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Hunter holds its breath for action on air quality as another mine is approved

The Berejiklian Government must develop a plan to reduce dangerously high levels of pollution in the Hunter region following the approval of two open cut mines near Singleton in the last three months. 

The Rix’s Creek coal mine expansion was the latest to get the official go ahead over the weekend, following a distressing process during which its approval was erroneously announced early by the Independent Planning Commission just over a week ago. 

“Air quality monitors in the Hunter, particularly around Singleton where the Rix’s Creek expansion will occur, regularly record pollution levels well above national health standards,” said Lock the Gate NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods.

“We are calling on politicians to visit the Hunter and speak to locals about the impact pollution from coal mines is having.

“The air in Camberwell regularly exceeds national health standards for particulates, and this is happening more often at other Singleton monitoring stations, too.

“Allowing more land to be cut open and disturbed by mining will worsen air quality and this is happening because of decisions being made by the Department of Planning and the Planning Commission. 

“Thousands of people living in Singleton Shire are breathing damaging levels of particle pollution because of the scale of open cut coal mining that has been approved by Sydney-based decision makers in the last ten years. The health of people in the Hunter is not being treated seriously as a casualty of these decisions.”

Ms Woods also called on the NSW Government to appropriately fund the IPC so mistakes like the early approval for Rix’s Creek didn’t happen again, and to release details about a recently announced review of the independent authority.

“The Independent Planning Commission is under a huge amount of pressure and appears to us to have a workload that is far greater than its capacities,” she said.

"The Commission must navigate diabolical land use and social conflicts caused by irresponsible and narrow planning policies that are leaving the Hunter Valley with a legacy of pollution and division.

"We renew our call for the terms of reference of the recently announced IPC review to be released, and we are appealing to the Planning Minister to come to the Hunter region and meet local people to hear about the damage that is being done to our health, water resources and social fabric.”

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