New air monitoring network for Newcastle

In response to community concern over the link between coal dust and health, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (the EPA) has established the Newcastle Local Air Quality Monitoring Network (Newcastle Network). The Newcastle Network was designed to monitor the impact of cumulative industrial activities in and around the Port of Newcastle, including emissions from commercial shipping and trains. In this article, Elizabeth McDonald, Principal of our property and planning team, considers the new air monitoring network and its impact on the Newcastle community.

How will the monitoring be done?

Three monitoring stations located at Stockton, Carrington and Mayfield West will continuously monitor sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter of less than 10mm and particulate matter of less than 2.5mm (Air Pollution). In addition, all environmental protection licence holders will be required to provide the EPA with information about emissions.

Will the information be publicly available?

Yes. The public will be able to access the monitoring data in real time and the EPA will be required to publicly report on the monitoring program.

How will it affect holders of environment protection licenses?

The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Newcastle Air Monitoring) Regulation 2015 (the Regulation) establishes a “polluter pays” model that will fund the construction and operation of the Newcastle Network. Current holders of environment protection licences that cause Air Pollution will be required to pay an annual levy proportionate to their contribution.

The levy payable by each licensee will be calculated as follows:

  • The EPA will estimate its total annual costs of monitoring Air Pollution and running the program.

The licensee will be required to pay that proportion of these costs that is equal to the proportion of the licensee’s contribution to the total Air Pollution emissions during that year. The EPA will use estimates provided by the licensee, in addition to other data, to calculate the licensee’s portion.

This article is not legal advice.  It is intended to provide commentary and general information only.  Access to this article does not entitle you to rely on it as legal advice.  You should obtain formal legal advice specific to your own situation.  Please contact us if you require advice on matters covered by this article.