Southern Highlands Taxis support Battle for Berrima campaign

Taxis across the Southern Highlands are part of a new anti-coal mining advertising campaign.

Billboards which appear on Southern Highlands Taxis are aimed at highlighting the risks to the tourism industry if the Hume Coal Project is approved.

But Hume Coal spokesman Ben Fitzsimmons said claims the mine would have a negative impact on the tourism industry were unfounded and misleading.

Battle for Berrima Vice President Michael Verberkt argued project approval could seriously jeopardise an industry which was crucial to the shire’s economy.

“Our local tourism industry has been built up over many decades and provides thousands of local jobs and a contribution to the local economy that dwarfs the short time frame of job creation proposed by Hume Coal,” he said.

“Tourism is part of the Highlands DNA and underpins our existing sustainable economy. More critically independent polling by Galaxy Research found two thirds of Wingecarribee Shire residents (66 per cent) are worried about the impact of the mine on existing local industries including agriculture, equine, tourism and local food production.”

Southern Highlands Taxis CEO Laurie Stewart said his company was proud to assist Battle for Berrima in its efforts to stop the Hume Coal Project.

“We have a world class industry with 300 accommodation properties and a wide range of other tourism business which will be seriously affected should the area turn into a second Hunter Valley coal producing area,” he said.

However Mr Fitzsimmons said both the Hunter Valley and the Central West, both coal producing areas, had significant tourism industries and attracted millions of visitors each year.

“In the past 10 years, the Hunter Valley’s coal production has risen 27 per cent while, in the same period tourism has risen 43 per cent,” he said.

“Both tourism and mining are significant contributors to the economy of the Hunter, but interestingly have not only succeeded in ensuring coexistence, but have thrived through what is clearly a synergetic relationship between the two industries.

“The picture is the same for the Central West, which has seen a boom in its coal industry (increasing by 138 per cent) and the tourism growing 27 per cent in the decade from 2006.”

Mr Fitzsimmons said the company had designed a mine that would “co-exist and compliment” the region’s tourism industry.

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