Greens say industry air check not good enough

THE Greens have attacked plans for a new industry-funded air quality monitoring system for the Upper Hunter, saying it was "like getting Coke to fund research into children's health".

The Government announced this week it had struck a deal with coal and power industries to establish a regionally co-ordinated air quality monitoring network, which would be managed by Macquarie Street.

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said it wasn't good enough and the Government should instead reopen the Environment Protection Authority office at Muswellbrook.

"It isn't enough to just monitor; they need to investigate and prosecute offences," Ms Rhiannon said.

Minister for Energy John Robertson defended the new arrangement, saying the Department of Environment and Climate Change was "more than capable" of prosecuting offences under the current arrangements.

Mr Robertson said the mines went through rigorous assessments and one of their responsibilities already was to monitor dust pollution.

The Minister said the network gave residents what they had asked for by including monitors in towns [not just mine sites] so they would know what they were breathing in.

Mr Rhiannon said the Government needed to also fund research into the health impact of coalmining.