Under the new ‘Clean Air Agreement’ NSW has opted for air pollution standards below World Health Organisation guidelines.
State ministers were divided on appropriate levels of the dangerous PM10 particles. According to reports, the decision to allow a threshold over WHO recommendations was driven by NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman. Stricter standards have been self-imposed by Victoria and the ACT.
The decisions have implications for WestConnex and the levels of emissions released by traffic along its route.
Member for Newtown and Greens spokesperson for WestConnex Jenny Leong MP said: “We don’t have to look far to see why the NSW Government is so opposed to meeting the recommended levels for PM10 pollution given that the polluting WestConnex tollway, one of the state’s most significant infrastructure projects, won’t meet those standards.
“The WestConnex M4 East EIS clearly states that the predicted emissions of PM10 along the route will reach levels that exceed the WHO guidelines.
“NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman pushed hard for the least strict standards. The annual PM10 standard we’ve ended up with is less strict than any of the proposals in the Government’s own options paper.
“Around 80 per cent of fine particle emissions come from vehicles running on diesel and figures in the latest WestConnex New M5 EIS indicate unacceptable increases in truck movements for years during the construction of WestConnex. There will be over 1000 heavy truck movements per day - causing a massive increase in both dangerous particles PM 10 and PM 2.5.
“We need the strongest emissions regulations to protect communities living in areas all along the WestConnex route who will be subject to huge increases in truck and car movements and dangerous emissions also from unfiltered ventilation stacks.
“The high hazard zone for health is considered to be 150 metres either side of busy roads – particularly within 50 metres. It’s obvious why local communities are concerned.”