A full page advertisement will appear in today’s Newcastle Herald urging Newcastle residents to pledge their opposition to the proposed fourth coal terminal (T4). The online pledge sends letters of concern to the Premier, Member for Newcastle Tim Owen and NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard.
The advertisement depicts coal dust billowing from one of the existing coal terminals on Kooragang Island within 2km of residential areas. The lower half of the graphic depicts a 12-year-old local girl clutching her asthma puffer. The advertisement text states: “Premier O’Farrell and Tim Owen have a new filter for coal dust. You.” Almost 1,000 people have already taken the pledge.
“It’s important that the Premier and Mr Owen hear this message from the people of Newcastle before it’s too late,” said Coal Terminal Action Group spokesperson Ms Annika Dean.
“The NSW Government’s decision about T4 will determine the future of Newcastle,” said Ms Dean. “Do we want Newcastle to be known for our beautiful beaches, lively community and opportunities in education and the arts, or as the coal dust capital of Australia?”
Representatives of community groups throughout Newcastle and the Hunter Valley will meet on Monday to consider their next actions to prevent approval of the proposed coal terminal.
Proposals include leafleting the Environment Minister Robyn Parker’s Maitland electorate, billboards alongside major roads and a rally in Newcastle on Saturday March 16th. On just one day in December, members of community groups distributed leaflets to 15,000 households in the suburbs most affected by coal dust.
“Our survey of 500 households demonstrated that fewer than 10% of Newcastle residents want another coal terminal and three quarters of the population are concerned about its impacts, especially the health impacts of coal dust. As the NSW Government presses ahead with this unpopular proposal, opposition is growing, not diminishing,” said Ms Dean.
The groundswell of opposition to the coal terminal was given a boost in recent months by expressions of support from two of the state’s major unions – the Teachers Federation and Nurses and Midwives Association. These unions, and state and national environment groups have published articles about the community health and environmental impacts of T4.