FEARS the NSW Government is planning to weaken industrial noise controls and regulations, in particular those involving mining operations, is causing anger among local communities.
Hunter Communities Network is calling on the government to undertake independent research into the impacts of mine noise in rural areas before any new Industrial Noise Policy (INP) is adopted.
The group says the existing INP is too weak and favours miners over rural communities and their residents who have to endure night after night of disturbed sleep due to noise created by 24 hours/day seven/week mining operations.
“The current INP does little to protect families living in quiet rural areas from the health impacts and sleep disturbance caused by noise pollution from large coal mines,” Bulga resident Allan Leslie said.
“The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has recommended that the policy be weakened without conducting any research in rural NSW.
“All decisions on the new proposed policy have been based on studies done overseas.”
Hunter Communities Network is critical of the science used by the EPA in their review and development of the new INP which is currently under consideration of the government.
The group argues the review used overseas data that is totally unsuitable for Australia’s rural communities.
Rural areas have virtually no night time background noise whereas the overseas research used by the EPA is based on noise levels found in urban areas, Mr Leslie said.
“Plus the noise measurements are taken outside a house whereas they should be taken inside where the residents have to sleep and where the noise disturbance is at its worst.
“The arrival or expansion of an open cut mine on your doorstep has severe impacts on rural communities with residents suffering regular loss of sleep resulting in health and social impacts.”
Opponents of the new policy say the noise from mines can travel kilometres at night affecting many more people than regulatory authorities recognise.
They also want access to noise data produced by monitors, operated by the mining companies, but located within their communities sometimes even on their properties.
At present they are unable to access this vital data.