The ‘Air Quality Statement’ issued overnight by NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman has been rejected as ‘spin’ by Environmental Justice Australia who are calling for national air pollution laws and oversight.
“The complacency and spin evident in this NSW Government statement are a stark reminder why we need to stop relying on the NSW Government to control air pollution and, instead, introduce a Commonwealth Air Pollution Control Act and a regulator to enforce it,” said EJA researcher Dr James Whelan.
“The statement’ reflects the NSW Government’s reluctance to act decisively to improve air quality,” said Dr Whelan. “This provides no hope for action by communities experiencing the state’s worst air quality in the Hunter Valley coalfields and in Sydney suburbs affected by motor vehicles.”
In December, NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman opposed the adoption of stricter standards that would have driven improvements in air quality, reducing health impacts by up to 65% and preventing up to 530 premature deaths annually.
The health cost of particle air pollution in the NSW Greater Metropolitan is estimated to be around $4.7 billion per year. More than 99% of this health cost accrues from premature deaths due to long term exposure to PM2.5. During 2015, annual average PM2.5 concentrations exceeded the new national standard in 8 locations: Liverpool, Chullora, Earlwood, Carrington. Stockton, Prospect, Muswellbrook and Campbelltown West.
In NSW, the largest source of PM10 and PM2.5 is coal mining. In metropolitan areas, wood heaters, diesel engines and industry are significant sources. In NSW, PM10 emissions are predicted to increase by 65% between 2011 and 2036.
For comment: Dr James Whelan 0431 150 928
NSW Air Quality Statement 2015: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/aqms/160036-nsw-air-quality-statement-2015.pdf
Health impacts reference: Draft Variation to the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Impact Statement, 2014, National Environment Protection Council: https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/dfe7ed5d-1eaf-4ff2-bfe7-dbb7ebaf21a9/files/aaq-nepm-draft-variation-impact-statement.pdf