The NSW Air Quality Monitoring Plan

We have recently updated the NSW Air Quality Monitoring Plan and performed periodic reviews of our industry-funded networks.

Today, New South Wales operates Australia's most comprehensive and substantially expanded air quality monitoring network, comprising a variety of networks and over 80 monitoring sites including:

  • Multiple new stations, including at Macquarie Park, Parramatta North, Wyong, Armidale, and Orange.
  • 3 industry-funded networks, one each in the regions of Upper Hunter (12 stations), Port of Newcastle (3 stations), and Namoi (2 stations).
  • The Rural Air Quality Monitoring Network, operating 36 dust monitors in central and west NSW, north west Victoria and east South Australia.
  • A roadside monitoring station in Sydney.
  • Air pollution incident monitoring capability.

The NSW Air Quality Monitoring Plan was first established in 2001, and not reviewed since. Responding to the national review and guided by recommendations 1 and 2, we intend to update the NSW Air Quality Monitoring Plan annually, and thoroughly review the Plan every 5 years. To this end New South Wales has:

  1. For the first time during 2017-18, comprehensively reviewed and updated the 2001 NSW Air Quality Monitoring Plan.
  2. Reviewed their industry-funded monitoring networks in the Hunter region.
  3. Performed a best practice review on the design of background air quality monitoring stations.

The updated NSW Air Quality Monitoring Plan

The updated NSW Air Quality Monitoring Plan will be published during 2019.

In reviewing the 2001 Plan, the EWG Project 2 recommendations 3 and 4 were followed, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) measure of population 'Significant Urban Area' (or SUA) was used as the basis for monitoring network assessment.

Below are the key review outcomes that inform the updated Plan.

  • The updated Plan includes all types of monitoring networks in New South Wales, including NEPM and non-NEPM (including industry-funded) networks.
  • The updated Plan identifies all significant urban areas (SUAs) in New South Wales with populations over 25,000, the pollutant monitoring currently being conducted in each, and trends in specific pollutant levels.
  • Review of the 2001 Plan found that all SUAs in New South Wales with populations above 25,000 comply with the minimum number of monitoring stations required. In fact, for some the number of stations far exceed the requirement. In Sydney, for example, 8 monitoring stations were mandated to be required based on the population in 2016 numbering 4.5 million people. However, we operate 16 stations in the Sydney basin due to its unique meteorology and topography. We also operate more than the minimum required number of monitoring stations in Newcastle and the Illawarra.
  • The updated Plan also identifies gaps in the network such as growing population centres in regional NSW and the NSW North Coast. Gaps in the Sydney network were also identified. Methods to fill the gaps are proposed, which may include low-cost sensors for ozone and particle monitoring.

The updated Plan is based on population size rather than population risk, as a national framework for risk-based assessment is yet to be finalised.