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Byron Shire
May 18, 2022

Bioenergy precaution

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The notion of ‘Green Energy’ has recently excited business investors and no doubt the public. We need positive solutions to pollution / pollutants as we face the sixth extinction. Air pollution has, for many years, been labelled the highest cause of death in humans. Australian politicians ignore the hazards of air pollution, clinging to political power aided by business concessions from, and to, the fossil fuel merchants. 

Client Earth Lawyers in the United Kingdom raised the issue of air pollution, caused by vehicles in urban areas, many years ago. They took their case to the international legal arena and won. Instant changes were implemented addressing air pollution in the United Kingdom, which continue to this day with the closing of many burning stacks that produce methane emissions.

The proposed Byron Bay Bioenergy Installation may prove to be a worthy production but if we address the latest research on air pollution as the major killer of sentient species we must be earnest in our duty of care. Health experts have linked a demise in cognitive function to air pollution. It is also linked to an extra 5.5 million premature deaths globally in 2015. It has well established links with heart attacks, strokes and asthma and is a carcinogen known to cause lung cancer. Air pollution is associated with other health impacts too, eg kidney disease, psychiatric illness and Alzheimer’s disease. It is caused by anything that combusts fuels; eg vehicle exhausts, power plants, incinerators.

‘The implications for public health, societal and economic costs of air pollution are immense,’ write multi-disciplinary scientists from Monash University, Victoria (www.echo.net.au/the-staggering-impact-of-air-pollution).

The recent What is Bioenegy video released by Byron Council is not satisfactory. A child narrates, as a truck is driven into a large shed and empties rubbish! No narrative follows addressing the most concerning issue; Where do the emissions go? What evidence addressing emissions exists in Council that satisfies public interest and health imperatives? Does evidence exist that has been analysed by independent scientists?

The Sunrise community have been active in addressing concerns to noise pollution, and excellent research has been offered by Mr Dixon addressing economic issues and noise pollution. 

Now that the great dangers of air pollution are proven by health scientists and medical practitioners it is essential that the community call for greater input, research, and transparency when addressing the installation of the proposed bioenergy plant. 

The new Byron Council would be very wise to demand that the precautionary principle be legally implemented until such time as all contradictions are independently addressed and satisfactorily assessed.   

Developers cannot use fearmongering on this issue, eg going to the Land and Environment Court, should community hinderance arise. Dismissal of community concerns is deserving of legal class action. Air pollution kills and sentient beings must exercise the custody of their own minds on this danger. 

Jo Faith, Newtown 

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