29 October, 2016

Best way to improve air quality is to shut coal-fired power stations and stop approving coal mines

The Nature Conservation Council welcomes Environment Minister Mark Speakman’s call for public input into his new 10-year air-quality plan but questions the government’s commitment to acting on the people’s wishes. [1]

“Last year, Mark Speakman received several thousand submissions urging him to champion stricter pollution standards, but he pushed instead for less strict national standards than any of the options being proposed,” said NCC Campaigns Director Daisy Barham. [2]

“The NSW Government does not listen to people in the most polluted communities in NSW, such as people in the Hunter Valley where coal mines are regularly approved despite particle pollution levels regularly exceeding the national standards.

“The Baird government is not serious about controlling air pollution and has done little to tackle emissions from coal mines and power stations, the leading source of many pollutants.

“It enthusiastically approves new pollution sources, even in the most polluted parts of NSW, including the Hunter Valley.

“The minister is urging people to ‘have a say’ his track record suggests he has no interest in listening to the community on pollution control.

“Unless the government stops approving new coal mines, another plan is not going to address the urgent health needs of the community.”

The government’s own report acknowledges that there are:

  • 520 premature deaths and 6300 cumulative years of life lost in Sydney because of poor air quality
  • 1180 hospital admissions in Sydney, and
  • an estimated $6.4 billion (2015 AUD) in health costs in the NSW Greater Metropolitan Region (GMR). [3]

Emissions from the coal mining industry, Australia’s main source of particle pollution, have grown by almost 190% over the past decade.

References

[1] Mr Speakman’s media release attached.

[2] Hopes fade of tougher air pollution standards, SMH, December 2015.

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/hopes-fade-of-tougher-air-pollution-standards-at-meeting-of-environment-ministers-20151214-gln8i4.html

[3] Consultation Paper: Clean Air for NSW, http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/resources/air/clean-air-nsw-160415.pdf

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