MR – Coal impact needs investigation

Newcastle Greens councillor Michael Osborne today lodged a notice of motion calling for a report from council officers on the likely impact of planned massive increases in coal transport through the city of Newcastle.

“Many people in the Newcastle community are only vaguely aware of just how huge the increase in coal exports planned by the state government and the coal industry actually are, and probably haven’t yet given much thought to their potential local impact.

“Current plans will increase Newcastle’s coal export capacity from its current level of around 80 million tonnes per year, to more than 300 million tonnes, nearly quadrupling the current capacity of world’s largest coal exporting port.

“Of course, this will massively increase the already major role that Newcastle plays in global climate change, but it will also have significant localised detrimental impacts on the city, as a result of associated increases in road and rail haulage through the city to the port,” Councillor Osborne said.

“More trucks on our roads and more coal trains through our city mean potential increases in traffic accidents, waiting times at railway gates, more air and noise pollution, more vibration impacts on buildings along transport corridors, and more damage and wear on expensive public infrastructure (especially roads).”

Councillor Osborne said that the council needed to understand the range and magnitude of these impacts, because a number of them would directly affect council responsibilities, such as asset maintenance, traffic management, and planning and development decisions, along with the increased flood risks and coastal management impacts associated with coal induced climate change.

He said he expected that local concerns associated with the impact of coal transport on the general community would have a much higher profile in the coming years, and that council had a responsibility to inform the community about elevated levels of coal dust and noise, and vibration.

“I know that people in my own area (Tighes Hill) have recently been expressing their concern about the impact of coal haulage operations associated with Port Waratah, and the local community group has now approached Port Waratah Coal Services about this.  As these kinds of local impacts become more and more evident, I expect the level of concern to increase accordingly,” he said.

“The current state government has shown that it is entirely in the pocket of the coal industry, and is prepared to ride roughshod over the concerns of local communities in these matters,” he said.

I’m calling on Newcastle council to show that it’s prepared to play a role on behalf of the community in this issue,” he said.

Contact:  Michael Osborne 0439 442984

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