Time to take air quality seriously in mining approvals

We all make mistakes, mine are tenses and typos. So we don't like to be overly critical of the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) who readily admitted they had blundered on Friday afternoon releasing their determination of the Rix's Creek South Coal Project before they should have legally done so.

It caused a flurry of press releases from the usual outlets condemning the Commission and yes as an independent professional organisation these types of errors should not be made.

But the real issue for us in Singleton is we need a highly professional independent planning review panel that can assess these massive projects giving due and proper weight to competing interests.

Jobs, royalties and growing the economy are important but are they more important than our health and the environment.

For those on either side of this debate it is an easy answer. For example the NSW Minerals Council it's all about more and more mines. Well after all their aim is to lobby on behalf of the industry so one would not expect anything else from them.

However, if you are not a miner or mine owner or manager or contractor and you don't live in the Singleton Local Government Area your opinion should not and must not carry undue influence on political decision making and legislation.

The same could well be said of politicians who live in areas unaffected by mining telling us more mines is all good news.

We understand the importance of the jobs and the royalties and given the present state of our national economy we only remain out of recession due to mineral exports.

But our community is wearing an unfair burden to maintain this political love affair with coal.

Air quality is appalling, our roads are choked at peak times and we can't even get a decent rail service because coal trains take priority.

Its time to think about our health and our amenities. Therefore we call on the NSW Minister for Planning Rob Stokes in his review of the IPC to place a greater emphasis on air quality when they are determining mining applications.

Not once in any mine determination has air quality been the number one consideration in the IPC's final decision.

All we get is the usual approved with strict conditions none of which has led to better air quality.