Community takes to the streets of Newcastle to defend public health and environment

Later today, people from all walks of life will take to the streets in Newcastle to highlight community concerns about health and environmental impacts of the fourth coal terminal proposed by Port Waratah Coal Services.

“The overwhelming majority of people in Newcastle oppose the proposal to build a fourth coal terminal, due to legitimate concerns about impacts on public health and the environment,” said Kate Smolski, Campaigns Director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

Construction of the fourth coal terminal (T4) would double the volume of coal transported through Newcastle, with a corresponding increase in train movements and dust pollution.

“In the absence of binding limits on air pollution, the health of local communities is placed at risk by an a flawed and unaccountable decision making process,” said Ms Smolski.

“Until clear, science based air quality standards are adopted and applied, public health will continue to be threatened by dirty, destructive development like the fourth coal terminal.”

If built, the fourth coal terminal would facilitate a twofold increase in mining development in the Hunter Valley, including up to fifteen new open cut coal mines.

“Mining expansion on that scale will lead to the destruction of rivers and streams and wetlands, clearing of forests and woodlands, pollution of air and water, loss of rich farmland and destruction of ancient cultural heritage,” she said.

“For communities in the Hunter Valley, the proposed doubling of coal exports from Newcastle presents a clear and present danger to their health, livelihoods and way of life.”

It is expected that people from across Newcastle and the Hunter region will attend today’s rally, to send a powerful signal to the state government that they are prepared to take a stand to defend their health, environment and local communities.

“The Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, cannot abdicate responsibility for the impacts of coal development on public health and the environment,” she said. “The Planning Assessment Commission may make the decisions, but cabinet makes the rules.

“It is time for the Minister to take the lead on developing and applying binding pollution standards, to protect the health and well-being of communities affected by polluting coal development in the Hunter and beyond.”

“The NSW Government must rule out the development of the fourth coal terminal, and take real action to guarantee that every citizen of this state has a right to clean air, clean water and a healthy environment, wherever they live,” said Ms Smolski.

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