UPPER Hunter residents affected by coal mine noise will bring the noise to Newcastle on Monday in a protest against new industrial noise guidelines in NSW.
There will be a “noisy protest” outside the NSW Environment Protection Authority office in Bull Street as NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton prepares to approve the new guidelines, which are expected to increase daytime noise limits.
The change is also expected to downgrade the status of regulations from firm policy to weaker guidelines for noise pollution from mines and other large industrial projects, Lock the Gate Hunter convenor Steve Philips said.
From noon on Monday residents of Wollar, Muswellbrook, Bulga and other areas affected by mines will attempt to be as loud as a coal mine by using noise-making devices and a mine noise recording.
Wollar resident and Hunter Communities Network convenor Bev Smiles said 90 per cent of Wollar residents had been forced to leave the area because of noise from nearby Wilpinjong mine.
“When people’s lives are being ruined, when they are forced to leave their homes just to get enough sleep, then it’s obvious the existing noise pollution rules aren’t good enough. People need stronger protections from noise pollution, not moves to weaken them,” Ms Smiles said.
Objectors criticised the government’s failure to commission research on industrial noise in rural NSW areas like the Hunter, and instead relied on overseas studies of industrial noise near rail lines and an airport.
While governments had spent many millions of dollars investigating the noise impacts of wind farms, little had been spent on the impacts of open cut coal mine noise in rural areas, despite evidence of the health impacts of industrial noise and years of complaints about noise from Hunter mines.
NSW Parliament was told proposed daytime noise changes were “below levels expected to lead to unacceptable impacts on the community”, and below World Health Organisation levels.