An estimated 650 children on the Central Coast and at Lake Macquarie suffer asthma because of the pollution that comes from coal-fired power stations like Vales Point.
Research by Dr Ben Ewald, epidemiologist and lecturer at the School of Medicine and Public Health, Newcastle University, found nitrogen dioxide emissions from power stations contributed significantly to children suffering this preventable disease.
Vales Point coal-fired power station is not just filthy, it is the most urban power station in NSW, sitting right in the middle of Central Coast suburbs.
Yet billionaire owners Trevor St Baker and Brian Flannery have applied to renew a licence that allows the station to continue polluting at twice the NSW emission standards, 10 times the European limit and 23 times the Japanese limit.
The good news is that Vales Point’s special exemption expires in a few months.
For the first time, the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has committed to a community consultation process before it makes its decision on the Vales Point exemption application.
The Nature Conservation Council has been campaigning with the local community for the EPA to reject the application and require the company to install filters to cut its pollution and reduce the impact on local children.
Vales Point's application to renew its licence presents a rare opportunity for the EPA to force the owners to bring the facility's emissions into line with NSW standards.
If the EPA ignores this opportunity and renews Vales Point's exemption, it will lock in dangerous emissions for another five years, which will have dire consequences for children on Central Coast and at Lake Macquarie.
For the health of these children, we cannot afford to squander this opportunity to clear the air.