Growing community concern about dust emissions from the Hunter’s coal trains needed to be urgently addressed, Federal Parliament heard yesterday.
Paterson MP Bob Baldwin spoke about his experience as a resident living near the region’s main coal line.
‘‘I live near the line from Maitland to Newcastle and one only needs to take a look at dust sitting on my roof or the roofs in the region to see this is a problem that needs to be addressed,’’ he said.
‘‘Whilst I don’t hold fears for the structural integrity of our family home, I do think about the potential health impacts.’’
The speech followed comments from Prime Minister Julia Gillard last week who said she appreciated community concerns about the impact of coal dust.
Mr Baldwin emphasised he was not interested in kicking the coal industry, however, he believed the issue of dust needed to be addressed.
‘‘The coal industry, other businesses and the Hunter residents need to be able to live in harmony for everyone’s benefit,’’ Mr Baldwin said.
‘‘The people who live alongside or work on the rail tracks carrying the coal have the right to enjoy an air quality that does not exceed nationally acceptable levels.’’
He urged the state government to work with industry to develop an innovative solution that was ‘‘effective, affordable and deliverable’’.
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He acknowledged the Newcastle Herald’s Great Cover Up campaign and associated online petition.
‘‘This is not just an issue engendered by local media,’’ he said.
‘‘Community grassroots organisations have also been active. There is an alliance of 14 Hunter community and environment groups who have taken it upon themselves to conduct an independent study into the impact of coal dust on the region’s air quality.’’
The NSW Environment Protection Authority is expected to release the results of trackside air quality monitoring at Mayfield and Metford at the end of the month.
Sign the Newcastle Herald’s Great Cover Up campaign petition to get the Hunter’s coal wagons covered at www.theherald.com.au <\b>