Consulting with local communities – a case study of the Hunter

At the EPA we are working closely with community, government, and industry in the Hunter region to guide and support more positive outcomes for the local environment.

Two long-running community committees that bring together stakeholders from the Hunter community met in August, and strong relationships are being built thanks to these shared conversations about the health of local communities and the environment.

The membership of the Newcastle Community Consultative Committee on the Environment and the Upper Hunter Air Quality Advisory Committee represents a broad range of views and makes space for open and honest dialogue between members of the local community, industries, local government, and relevant state government agencies.

Already this year, the nine-member Newcastle Community Consultative Committee on the Environment provided feedback to the EPA about air quality, coal dust management on Kooragang Island, and ammonium nitrate manufacture, storage, and transport in the Newcastle area.

The Upper Hunter Air Quality Advisory Committee recently discussed the Air Quality Monitoring Seasonal Newsletter for Autumn 2021.

It found most monitoring stations recorded their lowest rolling average PM10 and PM2.5 particle levels since the network began operation.

This was partly due to a much wetter and cooler season, especially compared with the previous year, which was impacted by drought and bushfires.

The Upper Hunter Committee also discussed the five-year review of the Monitoring Network, which will consider the program’s effectiveness and any recommendations for improvements. This is due to be completed by February 2022.

We strongly encourage the Hunter community to engage with representatives from these committees to build a stronger and healthier local environment.

We are always exploring more ways of working collaboratively with communities and local councils. This is underway through the new Local Government Advisory Group, quarterly meetings with regional waste coordinators, a state-wide Roadshow to councils and licensees, and by actively participating in local government conferences and events.

Our news update, EPA Connect, provides interesting information about the EPA, our work and latest initiatives. Anyone can subscribe to the newsletter online.

We remain keenly focused on developing stronger relationships through stronger partnerships and increased community involvement, engagement, and consultation.