Sydney, Nsw Australia (PressExposure) October 28, 2011 -- Two of the Hunter Valley's leading winemakers, Bruce Tyrrell and Brian McGuigan, have strongly refuted comments by the former NSW premier, Nick Greiner, that coal seam gas production and winemaking can operate side by side.
"The two industries cannot co-exist on current information," Mr Tyrrell said.
"One, we don't know the impact on the agricultural land and almost everything we have seen so far is not good; second, it's going to damage the tourism industry which is a lifeblood of wine growing areas worldwide; third, what do we do with the salt water?"
Mr McGuigan has written to a Senate committee stating that "coal seam methane gas fields and viticulture are NOT compatible land uses".
Their remarks are the latest development in the controversy in the Hunter Valley over whether coal seam gas activity should be allowed in vineyard areas.
Mr McGuigan's letter to the Standing Committee for Rural Affairs and Transport follows evidence given to its inquiry by Mike Moraza, a general manager with AGL Energy.
Mr Moraza had quoted Mr McGuigan as a reference point for there being no land use conflict. Mr McGuigan's company manages the Spring Mountain vineyard on behalf of AGL Energy.
Spring Mountain was purchased by AGL Energy from Mr Greiner when AGL found that no farmers in the Broke and Bulga areas of the Hunter Valley would grant them access to their respective properties.
ln Mr Moraza's evidence, he said, "To coin the words that Brian McGuigan used, the vineyard has never looked as good as it has under AGL's ownership."
In his letter, Mr McGuigan asserts that the current vineyard owned by AGL is not in an operating gas field, that the property merely has some exploration on it and that AGL is spending money on the vineyard to make sure it looks in excellent condition.
Spring Mountain's previous owner, Mr Greiner, has been quoted in the Australian Financial Review as saying "The evidence from my old vineyard suggests that wine and gas can co-exist."
Media contact: David Browne, Wilkinson Group - 02 8001 8827/0432 550 995