Environmental lawyers have cautioned the NSW EPA that its decision to give Delta Electricity a free pass when it handed the company an exemption from legal air pollution limits in December last year, is unlawful.
Environmental Justice Australia lawyers, representing the Nature Conservation Council and Australian Conservation Foundation, notified the EPA on February 21 and sought a response from the EPA.
The EPA approved Delta’s application for a pollution exemption at its Lake Macquarie power station, Vales Point, on December 15 2021, allowing it to emit toxic nitrogen oxides at levels higher than otherwise permitted under NSW laws.
Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Jocelyn McGarity said: “The NSW EPA has a responsibility to safeguard the health of our communities and prevent toxic pollution from harming and killing people,”
“Delta failed to meet its deadline to submit the application for this exemption, which means the EPA should never have allowed it in the first place.
“Air pollution limits in NSW are designed to control how much toxic pollution companies can pump into the air we breathe, but the EPA has handed Delta Electricity a free pass.”
Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said: “As the peak conservation organisation in NSW, we have an obligation to ensure the state’s environmental laws are upheld in every instance,”
“It appears the state’s environmental watchdog has failed to uphold important laws in relation to the issuing of the Vales Point air pollution licence, which is why we are asking the EPA how it intends to remedy the situation.
“This is a very important principle that must be upheld, not just to protect the health of people on the Central Coast, but for all communities living in the shadow of highly polluting industrial facilities in NSW.
“We have always been prepared to work with the EPA to find practical solutions that uphold the law and defend the rights of people to breath clean air, and will continue to do so.”
Australian Conservation Foundation clean energy campaigner Suzanne Harter said: “This special pollution allowance for Delta Electricity’s dirty coal plant is not in the best interest of the local community or the natural environment,”
“Keeping health-impacting pollutants within legal limits is the EPA’s job. It has failed to do so and therefore, it should rectify the situation immediately.
Kincumber GP Dr Ian Charlton said: “Just as everyone has the right to clean water to drink and safe food to eat, ensuring everyone has clean air to breathe must be a priority,”
“Air pollution is strongly linked to exacerbations of chronic lung conditions and hospital admissions.
“We now understand air pollution causes lung disease including childhood asthma. On the Central Coast that translates to 600 more children with asthma each year.”
Media contact: Kathryn Lewis, [email protected]