Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Air - NSW overview

NSW EPA Air Quality initiatives

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has implemented a number of measures for managing air pollution. These measures range from improving the health of NSW residents by reducing particle pollution from wood heaters and coal mines, to minimising the incidence of photochemical smog by reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from service stations. The EPA has developed guidance for managing the amenity impacts associated with odour from EPA-licensed premises and air pollution problems faced by local council officers.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Newcastle Air Monitoring) Regulation 2015 and Newcastle Local Air Quality Monitoring Network

The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Newcastle Air Monitoring) Regulation 2015 (PDF 197KB) commenced on 6 February 2015.

Under the Newcastle Air Monitoring Regulation, the cost of establishing and operating the Newcastle Local Air Quality Monitoring Network (NLAQMN) will be paid by the holders of environment protection licences issued under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. The NLAQMN provides a strategic local area monitoring network to deliver ambient air quality information that is not available from current industry monitors. Air quality information from the NLAQMN is published on the Office of Environment and Heritage Newcastle Local Air Quality Monitoring Network website and will be available for use in future planning decisions and to inform policy development where appropriate.

Find out more about the NLAQMN at the Commencement of Newcastle Local Air Quality Network Regulation webpage.

Reducing emissions from coal trains

Emissions from coal trains are an increasing concern for local communities who live near the rail corridor. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is investigating the sources of emissions from coal trains and measures that can be feasibly and practically introduced to reduce emissions from the transportation of coal. This has included a compliance audit program of coal loading and unloading facilities, a comprehensive literature review on management practices to control coal dust emissions from coal trains and an emissions monitoring program with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

Further work is currently underway to characterise the composition and likely sources of dust in the lower Hunter region.

Lower Hunter air quality studies

The EPA is conducting a number of air quality studies in the Lower Hunter region – find out more about these studies.

As part of a dust deposition study in the Lower Hunter, the EPA is establishing a project reference group to ensure that the views of the community are fully considered. Nominations for membership have now closed and are being assessed. Find out more about the responsibilities of the group.

Reducing wood smoke emissions

Wood smoke is a major contributor to particle pollution during winter. Regulations are in place to ensure that new heaters are replaced with cleaner and more efficient models while public education programs are used to stress the importance of ensuring correct operation of wood heaters. The wood smoke program provides the community and local council staff with information, resources and policy options for managing emissions from wood heaters.

Reducing emissions from motor vehicles and non-road diesel sources

Motor vehicle and non-road diesel emissions, including those from plant and equipment, ports and locomotives, contribute significantly to impacts on urban and regional air quality. The EPA is reducing these emissions through the smoky vehicle program and development of a strategy for managing non-road diesel emissions. This strategy incorporates the cleaner non-road diesel plant and equipment program and studies to identify feasible, cost-effective options for reducing diesel emissions from ports and locomotives.

Reducing service station emissions

Service station emissions are a significant source of photochemical smog forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and air toxic compounds, such as benzene. VOCs contribute to regional levels of ground-level ozone and both localised and personal exposure to benzene. The EPA is reducing emissions through the service station vapour recovery program.

Upper Hunter Air Particles Action Plan

Air quality in the Upper Hunter, with a particular focus on particle pollution from coal mining, is a priority for the EPA and the local community. The Upper Hunter Air Particles Action Plan outlines a range of measures to improve air quality in the Upper Hunter.

Minimising particulate pollution from coal mines

With growing community concern about the impacts on health and amenity associated with particle pollution from coal mining in NSW, the EPA has undertaken a range of initiatives and actions in relation to the management of air pollution coal mines. The Dust Stop program aims to ensure that the most reasonable and feasible particle pollution control options are implemented by each coal mine.

Reducing cogeneration and tri-generation emissions

Although gas-fired cogeneration and tri-generation improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they can make a significant contribution to regional levels of ground-level ozone and localised exposure to nitrogen dioxide. The Interim NOX Policy for Cogeneration in Sydney and the Illawarra sets out a policy framework for dealing with cogeneration and tri-generation proposals.

Assessment and management of odour

Odours are a significant source of air pollution complaints to the EPA Environment Line. The Technical Framework - Assessment and Management of Odour from Stationary Sources in NSW provides a policy framework for assessing and managing activities that emit odour and offers guidance on dealing with odour issues to industry, consent authorities, planners, environmental regulators and odour specialists.

Local government air quality toolkit

Local council officers have responsibility for dealing with a broad spectrum of issues affecting their local communities, including an extensive range of environmental management issues. The Local Government Air Quality Toolkit provides local councils with information on the sources and impacts of air pollution, the regulatory framework for protecting air quality in NSW, and air quality management procedures and technologies.

Lake Macquarie–Wyong air quality monthly reports

In response to requests from the Lake Macquarie community, the EPA has published air quality monitoring monthly reports, commencing from September 2013, for the Lake Macquarie and Wyong local government areas.

Page last updated: 17 October 2016