Cullen Bullen Mine Refused by PAC Due To Impacts Including Noise

New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission refuses Cullen Bullen mining application on grounds which include noise impacts.

Excerpts below are particularly interesting.

“For noise impacts, the project cannot meet the accepted NSW criteria at all residences. Acquisition is required for some residences and mitigation treatments for others. There are also a substantial number of residences close to the limit at which mitigation treatments for noise impacts would be required. The Proponent has modelled the noise impacts with all controls in place and operating effectively. There is no room for error in either the predictions or in operation of the controls. The potential consequences of failure to deliver predicted outcomes are that operating hours will remain restricted or a significant number of additional residences will need to be treated and/or acquired, causing further social disruption to the village and surrounding district.”

State has a duty of care to protect children from dust and noise impacts

“NSW Health has highlighted the State’s duty of care to occupants of mine‐owned residences when dust and noise impacts are significantly above the relevant air and noise criteria” …. “This issue has been canvassed recently in some detail by the Commission in its determination of the Ashton South East Open Cut Coal Project at Camberwell. The relevant section of that Report is included here for information:

‘This is a very difficult issue – particularly for children. The State accepts responsibility to control, or intervene in, the capacity of parents to expose children to risk in some aspects of life, but not in others (e.g. rigid requirements for child restraints in cars, but no protection from passive smoking). While it is true that a hierarchy of health risks for children would probably not have living in mine‐owned houses near the top of the risk profile; it is a modifiable risk and failure to address it can lead to increased overall health costs to the community. In this respect the Commission considers that the concerns of NSW Health are valid.”

Noise – section 5.2 p 42 

The issue of the suitability of the assumed 30 dBA background noise level was raised, because so many rural areas have much quieter real background noise limits, and clearly the numbers of noise complaints from those quiet rural areas have raised red flags with the PAC members about the suitability of that blanket noise limit being applied. The Commissioners stated (p 44):

“The level of mine related noise complaints from residents in rural areas where the background noise level is very low could suggest the current practice of setting the minimum background level at 30dBA is inequitable for this subset of the population in rural residential settings”

Download the NSW Planning Assessment Commission ruling  the decision →

A letter from the NSW Health Department to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (Mining & Industry Projects) states:

“there is increasing evidence internationally that environmental noise exposure may cause risk to public health, and is recognised by international bodies such as World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC). There is some suggestion of the long – term effects of environmental exposure to noise on annoyance, sleep disturbance, children’s performance at school, hypertension and ischemic heart disease”..

Download the NSW Health Department letter →

Download the EnHealth Report on Environmental Noise →