New Hunter Environment Advisory Group unites to address regional challenges

The newly established Hunter Environment Advisory Group, comprising community, industry, and local government representatives, has held its first meeting to address the Hunter region's environmental challenges, focusing on issues like air quality and dust suppression in mining.

NSW EPA hunter group
Image: EPA

The newly formed Hunter Environment Advisory Group, which brings together representatives from the community, industry, and local councils to guide the EPA's regulatory focus and initiatives within the region, held its first meeting last week.

This group aims to tackle the unique environmental challenges and priorities of the Hunter region by replacing two former committees: the Upper Hunter Air Quality Advisory Committee (UHAQAC) and the Newcastle Community Consultative Committee for the Environment (NCCCE).

Comprising fourteen members, the group includes six community representatives, four from industry, three from local government, and one environmental representative. Jason Gordon, Executive Director of Operations at the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), chairs the group.

“The Hunter Environment Advisory Group is a great way for us to come together to listen to the major environmental concerns across the Hunter region, and share the ideas and actions being taken to mitigate these issues,” Mr. Gordon said.

During its inaugural session, the group addressed various critical topics, including air quality monitoring, water quality, and contaminated land remediation.

A significant highlight of the meeting was the discussion on the EPA's recent Operation 'Bust the Dust'. Conducted between August and December 2023, this initiative involved 78 observations of coal mines in the Hunter Valley using drones and unannounced site inspections to monitor dust emissions.

Results showed that local mines have enhanced their dust suppression measures.

“Fortunately, the results from this latest campaign show improved performance by local mines against previous years, including increased measures for dust suppression and several instances where operations were stood down in response to dust risks,” Mr. Gordon noted.

Understanding that dust from mining is a significant concern for the Hunter Valley community, Gordon assured that the EPA would continue its rigorous campaigns and routine inspections to ensure mines are adhering to air quality standards.

The Hunter Environment Advisory Group will meet every six months to continue addressing these issues.

Further details about the group’s priorities and membership can be accessed on the EPA website here.

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