The Dialogue has analysed long-term data to determine how air quality in the Upper Hunter has changed and how it compares with other locations.
Following stakeholder feedback at our 2018 Forum event regarding concerns about worsening air quality impacts in the Upper Hunter, the Dialogue’s Joint Advisory Steering Committee endorsed a project to analyse publicly available air quality data from 2013 to 2019, gathered through the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network, to provide an assessment of long-term trends of air quality.
In consultation with the Joint Environment Working Group, the Dialogue prepared a scope for the project with the objective to answer following two questions:
- Has the air quality in the Upper Hunter Valley changed since monitoring began?; and
- Is the air quality changes in the Upper Hunter Valley measured at the monitoring stations different from air quality changes measured at other locations in NSW?
ERM Australia Pacific Pty Ltd (ERM) was engaged to deliver this project on the Dialogue’s behalf, with Damon Roddis providing a presentation on the initial findings of the analysis at the annual Forum.
Melita Keywood at the CSIRO has provided a peer review of the final draft, and additional analysis was undertaken by ERM in response to incorporate these comments and recommendations into the findings by way of a statistical analysis included in the report’s appendices.
The report found that air quality has changed in the Upper Hunter since the monitoring program began (i.e. concentrations have varied significantly over the period reviewed), but this change is in a manner that is generally consistent with monitoring data collected at DPIE stations across the remainder of NSW.
The report also found that the Upper Hunter air quality changes were broadly consistent with concentrations measured within the Lower Hunter and Central Coast and that the difference between the Upper Hunter and the remainder of NSW is small in scale relative to the variability in concentrations across NSW.
The final report is now available for stakeholders to review and can be accessed in the ‘Resources’ tab below.
The Dialogue has undertaken several supplementary updates by to the initial report to incorporate additional yearly data.
As the initial report included data up to the end of 2019 (notably an anomalous year with significant drought and bushfire impacts), members of the Dialogue’s Joint Environment Working Group supported the Dialogue in undertaking additional analysis to determine how the results of 2020 (which featured a significantly higher than average rainfall) would impact on these findings.
A further update was completed in October 2023, incorporating 2021 and 2022 air quality data, with the Dialogue agreeing to continue undertaking regular updates on an annual basis moving forward. Damon Roddis of Zephy Environmental continues to lead this project analysis.
These updates continue to reinforce the initial report’s findings and both are linked below under ‘Resources’.