The Hunter Community Environment Centre is calling on the State Government to ensure that they use the opportunity of the Newcastle Port privatisation to lock in lease conditions that protect community health and the environment.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the State Government to make sure that the future Port operators are subject to basic conditions that protect community and environmental health, limit air pollution impacts and promote regional economic diversity,” said Hunter Community Environment Centre spokesperson John Mackenzie.
“Once the deal for the Newcastle Port is struck, the ability of the State Government to regulate its activities will be irreversibly diminished. It is critical that the performance obligations in the lease agreement set enforceable limits on environmental and health impacts.”
Newcastle residents are concerned that once the sale of the port goes ahead, the NSW government will implement a new State Environmental Planning Policy like the one for the Port of Botany which contains additional ‘development without consent’ clauses for port facilities, if the development has a capital investment value of more than $100 million.
“There is already a nationally significant air quality crisis in the Hunter. This stands to be compounded by a ‘carte-blanche’ agreement with the new port owners. The conditions of the lease must ensure that any future Port development comply with world’s best practice measures for minimising pollution. At the very least, the NSW government should make dust control measures, such as covering coal stockpiles and coal wagons, conditions of these 99 year lease agreements.”
“Newcastle is already the world’s largest coal port and unfettered expansion of the coal exporting facilities at the Port will have devastating impacts on community health and the environment,” said Hunter Community Environment Centre spokesperson Dr John Mackenzie.
“Newcastle residents are concerned that unregulated expansion of the Port coal export infrastruture will further pollute our air, devastate wetlands, wipe out Hunter Valley farmlands, contribute to climate change and lock us into the boom and bust economy of coal dependence.”