Submissions are open into the Victorian Government’s Clean Air for All Victorians – working towards a Victorian Air Quality Strategy.
This is a chance to have a say into how Victoria’s air quality can be improved over the coming decades. The government will consider the feedback provided in the submissions and use it to inform a forthcoming summit and a more detailed air quality strategy in 2019.
We encourage you you read the Air Quality Statement here and lodge a submission by 30th June 2018.
The submission doesn’t have to be long and detailed. Use the online form provided or email through your own document. To help you we’ve put together a list of actions we believe the Victorian government should take to help protect communities like ours in the City of Maribyrnong.
Take steps to phase out diesel vehicles – one of the key air pollution challenges facing Victoria is dealing with rising levels of diesel emissions. The use of diesel as a fuel as categorically been proven to be an environmental and public health disaster. It’s a well established cause of lung cancer and is linked to a whole raft of other acute and chronic health effects. Victoria must follow the lead of other cities around the world, such as London, Hamburg, Rome, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City, and start taking measures to stem the rising numbers of diesel vehicles on our roads.
- Phase out old trucks – Australia has the oldest trucks in the western world, with an average age of 13.92 years. In other countries such as the US, steps were taken long ago to phase out these older more polluting trucks. With Australia’s largest container port, Victoria must catch up to the rest of the developed world in phasing out older highly polluting trucks and replacing them with post-2007 trucks with modern strict emissions standards.
- Fund innovation in alternative fuels for trucks – There has already been a huge shift towards sustainable and cleaner trucks around the world, particularly for short haul trips. These include electric trucks, hydrogen trucks and gas powered trucks. As the world moves away from fossil fuels it is essential that these low emission technologies are encouraged in Victoria.
- Put more freight on rail – Victoria must commit to an ambitious target to get freight onto rail. This includes fast tracking the Port Rail Shuttle, ensuring that the intermodal hubs can be accessed from a freeway without trucks needing to travel through residential areas
- Implement more truck bans and curfews – Implement truck bans and curfews to stop non-local trucks rat running down residential streets, especially where there are schools, kindergartens and child care centres
- Address land use issues that result in shipping containers being transported through residential areas – Move container yards to areas that won’t require containers being transported through residential areas. This could mean moving them to industrial areas better serviced by rail and freeways. Container yards must also be moved to the old Footscray Market site, significantly reducing the distance the containers need to travel.
- Implement air pollution protection measures at impacted schools -Thousands of children are heavily impacted by air pollution in the City of Maribyrnong while at school, kinder or child care. The US EPA provides strategies for school communities to reduce traffic-related pollution exposure at schools along corridors with significant amounts of truck traffic. The Victorian Government needs to fund schools on heavy trucking routes to implement similar mitigation measures to reduce the children’s exposure. Impacted schools, kindergartens and child care centres need urgent measures implemented immediately. These could include installing air filtration systems, roadside barriers including vegetative barriers, establishing anti idling policies and disallowing non-Euro 5 trucks nearby.
- Introduce air pollution buffer zones into the Victorian Planning Scheme – The Victorian Government should introduce controls into the Victorian planning scheme that can deal with point-source air pollution such as vehicle emissions. This could include buffer zones that can be applied to transport corridors where air quality standards do not meet agreed standards. At the very least, these buffers should restrict the development of new “sensitive uses” such as schools and child care centres within the buffer to minimise our most sensitive community members’ exposure to vehicle pollution.
- Provide a way for the community to report smoky trucks – There is currently no official way for the community to report a smoky truck. The EPA used to offer this service, but now only caters to trucks less than 4.5 tonnes. In Melbourne’s inner west, with 22,000 trucks a day, many of which are old and unroadworthy, this is a concern. MTAG has had to fill the gap, providing an online form which sends the information onto VicRoads. This should not be up to an unfunded volunteer community group.
- Encourage and help fund and facilitate clean air initiatives at the Port of Melbourne – In 2017 the ports of Long Beach and LA announced their new Clean Air Action Plan, which builds on the huge amount of work they have done since 2006 to slash pollution emanating from the ports. The new plan identifies strategies to reduce pollution from every source, including ships, trucks, trains, cargo-handling equipment, and harbour craft. Under the plan, most of the trucks servicing the port will be near-zero emissions by 2024 and zero-emissions by 2036. The Victorian Government must encourage and help fund and facilitate similar clean air initiatives at the Port of Melbourne.
- Address air quality mitigation measures associated with the West Gate Tunnel Project (WGTP) – including: tunnel filtration; pollution barriers; buffers to sensitive land use; monitoring near the tunnel portals; and clarity around ongoing monitoring
- Strengthen Victoria’s air pollution laws – The best way to protect our health is to significantly strengthen Victoria’s air pollution laws. Without the necessary legal framework to protect us it’s difficult for the community to have faith that the measures required to protect our health will actually be implemented. While it is commendable that Victoria is leading the way on the new standards, the process must be expediated to ensure that the community is protected sooner.
- Adopt an air pollution exposure reduction framework with specific reduction targets – Australia’s air pollution standards do not protect human health and for many pollutants such as diesel exhaust health impacts occur at very low levels. Significant health benefits would occur if air pollution is improved over time below the NEPM standards, not kept at the standards. The only way to protect human health in susceptible communities and air pollution hot spots is to adopt an air pollution exposure reduction framework with specific reduction targets.
- Take ultrafine particles into account when measuring air pollution – There is enough current scientific evidence to demonstrate that ultrafine particles negatively impact health. As the world becomes more aware of the dangers of air pollution, Victoria must take a precautionary approach to future-proofing communities from exposure to ultrafine particles.
- Improve the location of air monitors – Current monitoring under the Air NEPM is designed to measure the average air pollution that a community is exposed to. This does not show the true levels of air pollution where people are most heavily exposed, where pollution hot spots are or where vulnerable people work and live. The EPA needs to expand the state’s permanent air pollution monitoring network, adding locations that are identified by community groups and other stakeholders as pollution hotspots.
- Improve access to air monitoring data – The public needs improved access to EPA air monitoring data. Access to air pollution information in Victoria is grossly inadequate. Having access to live data only does not give a community any meaningful information. The public must be able to easily access and download historical data to properly assess the readings in their area and identify any trends and changes over time.