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Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Air - NSW overview

Upper Hunter Air Particles Action Plan

Air quality in the Upper Hunter, with a particular focus on particle emissions from coal mining, is a priority for the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the local community. The EPA, in cooperation with other Government agencies is working with industry and the community to help reduce particle emissions in the Upper Hunter.

The Upper Hunter Air Particles Action Plan outlines a range of measures in place or being developed to improve air quality in the Upper Hunter and better inform the public. These include actions to engage communities, improve planning decisions, reduce particle emissions from coal mines and other sources and improve the evidence base for action through monitoring and research.

The EPA has established the high-level Interagency Taskforce on Air Quality in the Hunter to address community concerns about air quality in the region, provide information to local communities on air quality and reduce particulate matter emissions from coal mining.

Upper Hunter Air Quality Particle Model

The EPA commissioned development of the Upper Hunter Air Quality Particle Model in partnership with the Department of Planning and Environment and NSW Trade and Investment – Division of Resources and Energy.  

Download the study reports:

The principal objective of the study was to quantify the contribution of human-made particle emissions to annual average particle concentrations in Singleton and Muswellbrook.  The study also investigates emission projections and reductions to inform development of programs for reducing long-term average particle concentrations in Singleton and Muswellbrook.

The study includes modelling of primary particle emissions from all sectors included in the Air Emissions Inventory for the Greater Metropolitan Region in NSW, including: Industrial, commercial, domestic, biogenic and geogenic (natural), on-road mobile and off-road mobile. The study particularly focused on characterising the contribution from coal mining, non-road diesel, domestic wood heaters and electric power generation, as these sources collectively represent the majority of PM2.5 emission in the Upper Hunter region.

The study results for Muswellbrook show that wood heaters are the largest primary human-made contributor to annual average PM2.5 (17%) followed by coal mining (12%), non-road diesel (5%) and on-road mobile (2%).

The study results for Singleton show that coal mines are the largest primary human-made contributor to annual average PM2.5 (15%) followed by wood heaters (14%), non-road diesel (4%) and on-road mobile (2%).

To ensure study rigor, the model underwent independent international expert peer review. Additionally, the study compared base year results with existing monitoring data from the Government’s Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network to ensure results were within acceptable bounds.

The Government will use the information contained in the study to help inform future actions to reduce fine particle emissions in the Hunter Valley.  Actions currently under development include:

  • emission controls for diesel plant and equipment
  • wood smoke abatement programs
  • actions to reduce emissions from exposed surfaces
  • an Integrated Mining Policy.

Further information on initiatives, programs and policies for managing air quality can be found in the EPA publications:

The format and structure of this publication may have been adapted for web delivery.

Page last updated: 10 March 2016