New mines should be banned in the Hunter and moves made to phase out the coal industry because of its damage to human health, which is costing the community more than $650million a year, a report prepared by health experts, academics and environmental scientists says.
The Climate and Health Alliance, which includes former Australians of the Year Professor Tim Flannery and Professor Fiona Stanley, will issue a letter to Premier Mike Baird on Monday calling on his government not to approve any new coal projects in the region.
The alliance’s report estimates the annual health costs from mining are $600million due to pollution from the Hunter’s power stations, $65.3million due to fine dust particle emissions from coal mines and power stations in the Upper Hunter and $13million from air pollution from coal in Newcastle.
The report argues that not enough is being done to protect residents from dust pollution which can cause serious respiratory problems and other illnesses. And though the industry is a big employer in the region, the letter cautions that the ‘‘social fabric’’ of the region and lives of residents had been disrupted by coal companies buying land for mining.