Environment groups are welcoming night time inspections of Upper Hunter coal mines, although they’re questioning the method behind the move.

Planning Department officers will conduct surprise inspections of mines following community complaints about an increase in dust at night.

However the department has taken the unusual step of warning the mine operators ahead of time.

Environmentalists say although it’s a bit strange, the move is welcome if it prompts coal companies to do the right thing.

Mining Activity Creates A Dust Haze Over The Upper Hunter. Picture