This year is a better year for air pollution in the Upper Hunter. But and its a big but any amount of air pollution is not good for our health

Air quality remains a serious challenge

In comparison to last year's record number of air quality alerts for the Upper Hunter 2020 looks like being almost a good year.

But and its a big but any amount of air pollution is not good for our health.

Air pollution is involuntary, often invisible exposure and is causing rising morbidity and mortality especially for those of us living in the region.

It only takes a weather event like we had on Sunday with strong north westerly winds and bingo the air quality alerts start pinging.

Then the southerly buster arrives and monitors start pinging again as the PM10 levels rise to unsafe levels. We all know exposed earth whether in farming or mining situations will cause dust given the right weather conditions.

Farmers have been adopting conservation and regenerative farming practices for many years to prevent the loss of valuable top soil during such events.

But what can we do to prevent dust from mining sites which by their very nature require large areas of exposed earth to allow for mining to proceed.

The EPA say they request mining companies to cease operations on the worst days and increase watering of haul roads but what about the overburden and lands yet to be rehabilitated.

Controlling dust on open cut mine sites is no easy task we understand that. The question perhaps should be asked of the state government should we be approving more open cut mines or expanding existing mines given the fact our airshed is already overloaded.

Pollution from coal fired power stations is just as dangerous to our health and we have the technology to reduce PM2.5 pollution with filters. We appear to lack the willpower to have them installed.

In good news the passing of the Matt Kean's Electricity Infrastructure Investment Bill 2020 last week will see much more investment in renewable energy.

Energy production that will replace our ageing coal fired power stations including Liddell.

In other good news after a five year wait tenders have been called for the upgrade of the Belford to Golden Highway intersection with the New England Highway.

This upgrade cannot come too soon for regular highway users of this dangerous section of a national road.

Too many lives have been lost on that section of highway - we say let the work begin.