Don’t let Gloucester tourism fall victim to coal seam gas

On World Tourism Day, Greens MP and Tourism spokesperson Jan Barham has called on the NSW Government to recognise the importance of tourism to communities such as Gloucester by reconsidering its approval of coal seam gas in the picturesque region.

“Visitors spend around $30 million annually in the Gloucester region, providing jobs for up to 240 people in the tourism sector and supporting many local businesses. Tourism is an increasingly important part of Gloucester’s economy and to jeopardise it through drilling for coal seam gas in the area is risky and short-sighted,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham noted that tourism operators are playing a significant role in the local protest against AGL’s plan to commence fracking four wells at their Waukivery pilot project site outside Gloucester. In a submission to the 2011 Parliamentary Inquiry into Coal Seam Gas, Tourism Advancing Gloucester’s (TAG) Thomas Davey wrote that:

‘TAG believes that CSG mining works hard against the scenic beauty of Gloucester, adding a slow uglification to a region long-recognised for its beauty; it destroys productive farming land; and it detracts from the tourism experiences of the town.’

“As the gateway to the World Heritage Listed Barrington Tops, the natural beauty of Gloucester is a key attractor for the region. The tourist operators of Gloucester see the impact this mining project will have on the landscape, along with the risks to air quality and water security, and the Government should act in the region’s long-term interests,” Ms Barham said.

“Although Minister Anthony Roberts’s announcement last Thursday that he was extending the Government’s coal seam gas moratorium is a welcome reprieve for some communities, it doesn’t apply to Gloucester.

“The community opposition to AGL’s coal seam gas project and the risk it poses to tourism mean that the Minister needs to take further action,” Ms Barham said.

“Communities in regional NSW work hard to establish local industries that complement the traditional agricultural basis for their survival.

“We should be supporting the long-term viability of rural communities through tourism instead of threatening their very existence by approving fracking despite the strong protests of the community, including businesses involved in tourism,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891