Air pollution is a serious issue in NSW that causes hundreds of avoidable deaths and cases of childhood asthma every year.
Yet NSW air pollution regulations are weak compared to many other countries. power stations here are missing modern pollution controls, and communities are paying the price.
In June 2022, the Environment Protection Authority sought submissions from the public on the draft Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2022. The Clean Air Regulation sets the legal framework for managing air quality in NSW and controlling air pollution.
Our environmental lawyers are concerned the proposed changes will allow power station operators to keep pumping out far too much toxic pollution for far too long, and put our communities’ health at continual risk.
EJA made a submission calling for stronger air pollution laws for communities and recommended the following changes to the draft Clean Air Regulation:
- The emission concentration standards, or ‘exceedance limits’, should be reduced to protect community health and drive industry improvements.
- The emission concentration standards should include SO2, mercury and greenhouse gases.
- Coal fired power stations should phase to more stringent emission concentration standards more quickly to protect community health in the short to medium term.
- Operators of coal fired power stations should not be able to apply for exemptions to circumvent the intended phasing process and avoid having to reduce their pollution, as has occurred under the current Clean Air Regulation.
- Application and assessment processes relating to exemptions should be strengthened to reflect community expectations that risks to human health and the environment be adequately considered and to ensure the EPA has the information it needs at the outset to assess applications.