A community meeting in Singleton has adopted a series of demands seeking action from the NSW Government to address chronic air pollution in the Hunter Valley.
The meeting, held on Monday Nov 18, heard from local community representatives and Singleton GP Dr Bob Vickers about the deteriorating air quality in the region and its effect on the health of people living in communities nearest to open cut coal mines.
Dr Vickers presented information about the number of deaths caused by air pollution in Singleton and the parts of the region worst affected.
About 50 local people attended the meeting and voiced their anger and frustration that the NSW Government was taking no action to protect local people.
Dr Vickers said, “Air pollution is getting worse in Singleton and it is affecting people’s health. Close to 90% of our coarse particle pollution comes from open cut coal mines. We’re not going to improve this situation unless and until the state government makes the mines act.”
The meeting unanimously adopted a series of demands and resolved to send them to State Government representatives, including the EPA and the Minister for the Environment Matt Kean.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “The people of the Hunter Valley are being treated very shabbily by the Ministers and public agencies that manage the environmental and health impacts of the mining industry.
"The situation is intolerable and unacceptable.
“We’ll be working with doctors and members of the community to send these demands to the Government and we expect them to respond with swift action.”
Resolution adopted by the Singleton air pollution crisis meeting
That NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean and CEO of the NSW EPA Tracey Mackey establish and air pollution strategy for the Hunter region that:
1. ensures meaningful community involvement in its development and ongoing monitoring and review
2. requires polluters to implement controls that result in measurable improvement in air quality in Singleton and Muswellbrook Shires to well below the national standards
3. includes a load based licencing fee for the coarse and fine particle pollution emitted by coal mines (which are currently exempt)
4. employs a full-time “air control manager” with overarching powers to control blasts etc
5. incorporates Hunter New England local health district into the decision-making process so that local health impacts are assessed and alerts issued when there’s a deterioration in air quality