The NSW Government has proposed a new draft plan which hopes to turn air pollution in the Hunter around for good.
The Draft Clean Air Strategy, released on Thursday, addresses a number of key areas in air quality policy, including cleaning up industry, making fuel and transport greener, and being better prepared for pollution events.
Environment Minister Matt Kean says last year’s bushfires highlighted the fact there was work to be done in the area.
“Our Draft Clean Air Strategy sets out five key action areas to mitigate community exposure to poor air quality, both during extreme events and on a day-to-day basis,” Mr Kean said.
“We’re asking everyone with an interest in air quality in NSW to help us shape the final Strategy by sharing your knowledge and providing your feedback.”
The draft plan draws on previous public consultation and a number of other Government policies.
But while Singleton GP Dr Robert Vickers says the Government’s new proposal is exciting, there were fatal flaws still not addressed by the current version of the plan.
“We know the problem with the load-based licensing scheme is that mines are exempt,” Dr Vickers said.
“The idea of load-based licensing is that your license fees, that you pay to the EPA, are dependent on how much total pollution you emit. When you’re responsible for 90% of the coarse pollution in your area, it’s a bit ineffective to be exempt from that scheme.”
Community groups are also calling for stricter regulations on local power stations to bring emissions in line with global standards.
Dr Vickers says he’s hoping the Government takes this community consultation on board.
“We’ve done the work for them,” Dr Vickers said. “It goes into the detail of what needs to be done, it’s evidence-based.”
“It’s great to see Minister Kean commit to releasing this plan, I have no doubt that he’s probably going to cop a lot of flak from it from some of the industry, and we fully support him implementing a plan, but we want to make sure that it’s evidence-based and it’s going to be effective.”
Members of the public can provide feedback on the plan at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/clean-air-strategy.