PAC Review Supports Approval of T4 Coal Terminal at Newcastle

The Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) today supported the approval of the proposal to build a fourth coal terminal on Kooragang Island (T4 Project) near Newcastle despite health concerns by local residents.

16 December 2014

The Commission in its review report concluded that they “largely agree” with the Department of Planning and Environment’s Preliminary Assessment Report, which recommends the project be approved. 

The Commission’s support for the project by Port Waratah Coal Services is despite health concerns about coal dust, raised by medical experts and local residents at a PAC public hearing in Newcastle earlier this year.

Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle, Nick Higginbotham, told the hearing the transport and loading of an additional 70 million tonnes of coal annually will worsen air quality around Newcastle which already exceeds World Health Organisation and proposed national guidelines.

The Commission states in its review report that there is “considerable uncertainty about when or even whether the project will proceed.” It made recommendations that it considers should be adopted before allowing the project to proceed:

  • a five year instead of 10 year commencement period;
  • the Tomago offset for threatened species such as the Green and Golden Bell frog, need to function for a minimum of 3 years prior to construction;
  • the proponent, EPA and Hunter Development Corporation negotiate and agree on a comprehensive remediation strategy before a determination is made;
  • the proponent be required to allow space for shore power so vessels can avoid diesel engine emissions, if ship to shore power became a viable option;
  • coal should only be accepted at the site where the coal at the top of the wagon meets appropriate moisture content levels or has been treated with chemical veneer;
  • wagons leaving the site to be completely empty, with dump doors fully closed;
  • noise limits included for locations at Warabrook and Sandgate;
  • consider extra noise limits specific to the T4 Project;
  • proponent and the Department to consider latest coal pricing and demand forecasts in justifying the final capacity onsite development footprint, layout and staging plans, to ensure environmental impacts are minimised.

 It is expected that any approval of the T4 Project will be made by a differently constituted Planning Assessment Commission and a further public hearing may also be held.

CONTACT: JON WALTER 0404 647 842 jon.walter@edonsw.org.au