Doctors say the NSW government plans to turn its back on communities by ensuring mining projects are approved regardless of potential health impacts.
Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is alarmed by the NSW government’s plan to guarantee favourable treatment for mining proponents if the mineral resources are “significant”.
The draft amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007 (the Mining SEPP) would “prevent a consent authority from refusing consent” when the project is “significant to the State” and the project meets very basic standards.
“The Hunter Valley is already being heavily polluted from the under-regulated coal industry,” said DEA spokesperson Dr Ben Ewald.
“Just when we thought the bar couldn’t get any lower, the NSW government lowered it again.
“The proposed amendments would fail to ensure adequate protection of the health and well-being of NSW communities exposed to pollution from mining and they are not in keeping with best international standards.
“The weakening of the air quality standard would mean that any town near a mine could be subjected to air quality even worse than Camberwell, but still be within allowable limits.
“Camberwell in the Hunter Valley had 23 days in 2012 with air worse than the 24 hour standard of 50ug/m3, yet the annual average was 26.5 ug/m3, which would be viewed as acceptable under the proposed standards,” said Dr Ewald.
DEA is an organisation of medical doctors working to prevent and address the diseases caused by damage to our natural environment. Doctors are on the front line, seeing the impacts of pollution from fossil fuels on people’s health, well-being and livelihoods.
“The O’Farrell government is seeking short term economic benefits without accounting for the significant health and environmental costs that come from coal pollution,” Dr Ewald said.
DEA maintains that the true costs of mining developments need to be considered as well as benefits. There are significant risks to people’s health from poorly regulated developments – and these flow through to healthcare costs that we all pay.
DEA is a national, independent, self-funded, non-government, medical organisation
Sustainable agriculture and healthy ecosystems are just as important for our economy as mining and even more so for our health and well-being. There is no justification in giving these lower priority.
DEA spokesperson Dr Ben Ewald M: 0422 378 042
Plea from Doctors for the Environment Australia “We urge the NSW government not to legislate favouritism to the activities of the mining industry over the health, economic, social and environmental needs of the people of NSW. The government has a duty of care to make the health and wellbeing of its citizens the priority.“