For Hume the Bell Tolls: Impacts of the Hume Coal project on Southern Highlands businesses

A new report by The Australia Institute provides in-depth analysis of the proposed Hume Coal project, finding that it could damage the economy of the Southern Highlands region in NSW.

The Southern Highlands economy is based on service industries with mining accounting for just 2 percent of employment in the region. Compared to NSW as a whole, the Southern Highland’s big industries include accommodation, food services, retail and agriculture, the industries that underpin the region’s food and agriculture-focused tourism sector.

The report conducted 14 interviews with local businesses and Wingecarribee Shire Council.

“It was particularly important to speak to local business owners because Hume Coal’s economists clearly never did,” Research Director for The Australia Institute, Rod Campbell said.

“Hume’s economic assessment by consultants BAEconomics bizarrely claims there are only four tourism establishments in Berrima and Moss Vale. A google search or a five minute walk in either town shows this is incorrect with at dozens of hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, etc.

“The Council and most interviewees oppose the project, although two were supportive. 11 interviewees raised concerns around impacts on water.

One business owner explained:

‘we are profitable because we have weddings and we have weddings because we have water.’

“The importance of groundwater to the Southern Highlands economy is only apparent when you go there and discuss it with local businesses. If the coal mine affects water supply, historic gardens, orchards and niche agricultural producers will be impacted, with immediate flow on effects for wedding venues, restaurants, accommodation and other services,” Campbell said.

“Six interviewees have put off investment in their businesses due to the potential coal mine. This shows that the project is already having a negative effect on investment and jobs in the Southern Highlands.

“None of this is considered in Hume’s economic assessment. NSW Planning needs to reject this project and crack down on dodgy economic assessment commissioned by project proponents.”

– Full report see PDF below – 

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