Friday, September 11, 2015


Guest Post from Wendy Wales outlining her presentation to the Planning Assessment Commission in Singleton earlier this week


Thank you for allowing me to speak on behalf of DAMS HEG.

Denman, Aberdeen Muswellbrook Scone Healthy Environment Group is a group that recognizes the connection between environmental and human health. We advocate for the conservation of remnant valley floor vegetation as a way of keeping the Hunter Valley habitable. We do not believe the Hunter Valley should be written off as a continuous sequence of coal mines.

We are opposed to this expansion both on environmental and health grounds.

On one occasion at Muswellbrook Hospital in the emergency ward with my students, we were told of the previous days cardio-pulmonary helicopter emergencies. The air quality that day was regarded as fair, good enough for most of us but, it seems likely a problem for the more vulnerable.

In the study Investigating the Health Impacts of Particulates associated with coal mining 2014 Dalton et al uses dose rates to provide understanding of the health impacts of dust., rather than incidence of particular diseases. 

For every 10μg/m3 increase in PM10 we can expect an increase of 0.6% deaths from any cause. 

In Muswellbrook postcode there was 29,000,000 kg of PM 10 from coal mining and 1,300,000kg from electricity generation 2013/2014. The mortality from lung cancer increased to 8% for a 10 μg/m3 PM2.5 increase. 

The National Pollutant Inventory reveals coal mining produces 700,000kg PM2.5 and power stations release 280,000kg.

The not-for-profit health professionals organization, Climate and Health Alliance in their study published this year, Coal and Health in the Hunter, Lessons from one valley for the world, summarise that “the impacts (of the rapid expansion of coal) on local communities in the Hunter Valley include exposure to harmful air, noise and water pollution, stress associated with social disruption, and a sense of abandonment as government’s prioritise the interests of the coal industry above that of the community.”

As the commissioners are aware Bulga Millbrodale Progress Assoc has been fighting the expansion ever since the company broke with its agreement to leave intact and not mine Sadle Ridge.

Their arguments were of social and biodiversity impacts and the Land and Environment Court ruled in their favour, as did the Supreme Court when the company appealed.

The cynical disregard of prior agreements by company not to advance toward Bulga should bring shame to its proponents.

The Warkworth Sands Woodland now critically endangered, will be out and out destroyed by this mine. The Federal EPBC has recently classified Central Hunter Woodland Eucalypts, found on the site, as critically endangered. This is another environmental bottom line being ignored by the proposal.

By removing social and environmental considerations from the approval process the corrupt minister Chris Hartcher was attempting to retreat to an era before 1987. In that year the UN Brudtland Report identified environment and society as needing to be part of a triple bottom line for sustainable development. That report was written, I repeat, in 1987 as a global response to climate change.

The world bank has warned that ‘we are on track for a 4°C warmer world (by the end of the century). This means “extreme heat waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity and life-threatening sea level rise”, “There is no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C warmer world is possible. “ Kevin Anderson of the Tyndale Centre for Climate Change Research says that 4°C warming is “incompatible with any reasonable characterization of an organized, equitable and civilized global community.”

We have wasted the time to easily and methodically move away from fossil fuels, climate change is now being felt. We need to stop pretending it isn’t happening and wake up to its mercilessness. We need to work together, retrain if necessary, reorganize and re-educate so that our lives will be enjoyable and meaningful and wonderful into the future, rather than desperate and impoverished.

I have been impressed at the various PACS at the civility and respect shown by everyone assembled. Imagine if we were putting this effort into work together for our children and the planet. It is so much easier not to wreck the Earth than it is to fix it.

We request the PAC reject the Warkworth Mount Thorley Continuation Project Expansion Application.

Thank you.

Wendy Wales
Denman, Aberdeen Muswellbrook Scone Healthy Environment Group

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