The Hunter Valley’s already unacceptable air quality will reach disastrous levels should the new United Wambo coal mine be approved, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
Today (Thursday 7 February), the Independent Planning Commission will hold a public meeting concerning the mine proposal at Singleton.
The meeting comes as Office of Environment and Heritage data reveals last year was the worst year for air quality since monitoring in the Hunter Valley was established.
Lock the Gate spokesperson Georgina Woods said the air shed simply could not cope with any more open cut coal mines.
“This project illustrates why we need proper cumulative impact assessment in the consideration of coal mines. People in Singleton Shire last year suffered air quality below the national standard and this mine will only add to that health burden,” she said.
The public meeting replaces a previously scheduled meeting that was cancelled with just two hours notice late last year after two members of the IPC’s panel declared conflicts of interest in the project.
Ms Woods said the delay had allowed for air quality data from 2018 to be finalised and that five of the nine monitoring points near the new mine proposal were already breaching annual standards for particle pollution.
“United Wambo is also going to worsen the drawdown of two productive alluvial aquifers that other mines have already caused,” she said.
“In addition to that, it will clear 250 hectares of a nationally critically endangered ecological community that other mines have been given the go-ahead to clear.
“As far as cumulative impacts go, this one is the pit that breaks the back of Hunter Valley communities, water resources and biodiversity.
“The Independent Planning Commission needs to look at this proposal in the context of the environmental and social damage that is already being inflicted on the Hunter region, and refuse to approve it.”