NSW Environment Protection Authority

The newly established Hunter Environment Advisory Group met for the first time last week, bringing together a group of representatives from community, industry and councils to discuss the Hunter’s unique environmental profile, challenges and priorities.

The new Advisory Group has evolved to combine and replace two former committees – the Upper Hunter Air Quality Advisory Committee (UHAQAC) and Newcastle Community Consultative Committee for the Environment (NCCCE) – providing a more unified approach to environmental issues across the region.

Fourteen members represent interests across the Hunter region, including six from the community, four from industry, three from local government, and one environmental representative.

NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Executive Director of Operations Jason Gordon, who chairs the group, said the new Advisory Group will inform the EPA’s regulatory priorities and work in the region.

“The Hunter Environment Advisory Group is a great way for us to come together to listen to the major environmental concerns across the Hunter region, and share the ideas and actions being taken to mitigate these issues,” Mr Gordon said.

“In our first meeting, we covered a range of topics including local air quality and monitoring networks and discussed water quality and the remediation of contaminated land.

“We committed to more transparency about how the EPA works with our licensees and protects the environment across a range of industries.

“The inaugural meeting was also a great opportunity to discuss the results of the EPA’s recent Operation ‘Bust the Dust’. Using drones and unannounced site inspections, EPA officers undertook 78 observations of coal mines in the Hunter Valley between August and December 2023 to monitor for dust emissions.

“Fortunately, the results from this latest campaign show improved performance by local mines against previous years, including increased measures for dust suppression and several instances where operations were stood down in response to dust risks.

“We understand that dust from mining activity in the Hunter Valley is a key concern for the community, and the EPA will continue its campaigns and routine inspections to ensure the mines are maintaining good air quality in the region.”

The Hunter Environment Advisory Group will meet every six months.

/Public Release.