A group of eight local farming families and one corporate entity have bought back land owned by mining giant, Shenhua, for the past ten years, in a landmark victory for the Liverpool Plains community.
The 16,500 ha holding, spread across three aggregations, was purchased by local farming families for a total of $120 million, a 36% reduction of the cost of the land purchased by Shenhua, who bought a total of 40 sites between 2009 and 2010 for over $190 million.
The team at Pursehouse Rural are pleased to see the land bought back by local farming families who will maintain sustainable farming practices for future generations of landowners.
The demand for land was high as real estate group CBRE received 45 expressions of interest from local farming families and offers from five corporate entities for sections of the 16,500 ha holding, located on the Liverpool Plains near Gunnedah, and which is considered to be some of the most fertile farming soil in the country. The water table situated beneath the Liverpool Plains enriches the soil year-round, making it ideal for a whole host of farming ventures, from broadacre cropping to cattle or sheep production.
A Shenhua representative said, ‘given these properties will now be retained for farming instead of being used for a coal mine, we are delighted that CBRE has been able to work with local families to give them a real opportunity to purchase a significant portion of the land.’
A corporate entity, who is yet to be named pending Foreign Investment Review Board approval, is known quoted to be ‘a well-known institutional investor with an Australian management team focused on acquiring land that can be improved with highly sustainable farm development practices.’
Andrew Pursehouse, owner of Breeza Station NSW and Pursehouse Rural customer, was a prominent member of the community who campaigned against Shenhua’s interest in the area. He states that the buying back of the land is ‘a way of reclaiming some of the damage done to the community.’
Another neighbouring farmer and Pursehouse Rural Gunnedah customer, John Hamparsum, similarly campaigned against the mine alongside Andrew Pursehouse. He comments, ‘It’s sad that it’s taken 13 years fighting to get to this point. It is ludicrous to allow a coal mine to be built in one of the most fertile plains in Australia.’
The farming land on the Liverpool Plains, NSW, is known to be some of the most fertile black soil in the country and is considered to be the heart of the nation’s food bowl. An open cut mine in this locality would have an unknown impact on the water table which feeds these paddocks and the neighbouring farmlands. Its impact on the future of the land and the future of farming families was completely unknown, as Liverpool Plains farmers and president of the National Farmers Federation, Fiona Simpson sees a refreshing end to a decade of uncertainty.
“To have it back now in local hands, to have family farmers again owning that land in a sustainable way that we know is going to be able to ensure the future of future generations of farmers… that’s extremely satisfying,” she said.
David Goodfellow, Managing Director for Agribusiness at CBRE, noted that mum-and-dad buyers inspected properties with their adult children, highlighting an enthusiasm in future farmers looking to sustainably maintain the land on the Liverpool Plains.
As land is handed back to local families with knowledge of sustainable farming practices, it is certain those properties will be handed down through future generations of Liverpool Plains farmers. The team at Pursehouse Rural Gunnedah are here to support local farming families across the Gunnedah community and the Liverpool Plains.