Non-stop coal deliveries fuel anger

Since 1982, coal-truck deliveries in Wollongong were restricted to between 7am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday. But now the NSW planning department has lifted this curfew.

Coal trucks will be thundering through the streets of Wollongong 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Residents are outraged at the lack of consultation. The ending of the curfew will worsen road safety, raise noise levels during the night and expand coal production when we should be phasing it out to avert climate change.

The NSW government's changes will help drive a huge increase in coal mining in the region.

The Port Kembla Coal Terminal will now be able to get 7.5 million tonnes of coal trucked in each year. The government has indicated this may rise even more to about 10 million tonnes.

Today the terminal accepts 5.2 million tonnes, itself an increase on a 2 million tonne limit implemented in 1979.

Community pressure forced the 2 million tonne limit 30 years ago after a young family of five were killed by a coal truck.

On June 26, the NSW government announced a $50 million expansion of Helensburgh mine — Australia's oldest operating coal mine.

The mine's lease was due to expire in 2011. The government's approval adds a further 20 years to the life of the mine.

The expansion of underground longwall mining will endanger catchment areas that supply drinking water to the Illawarra region and Sydney. Local animal species will also be threatened.

Stefan Skibicki, environment spokesperson for Socialist Alliance in Wollongong, condemned the decision. "The state government is ignoring climate emergency", he told Green Left Weekly. "Instead, it's in bed with the coal industry. We need to fight tooth and nail to not only reverse these decisions but to throw out this coal-obsessed government."