THE state government has again resisted calls for a study into the effects of diesel emissions on health.

Pointing to last week’s blockade protest that shut down Shepherd Bridge in Footscray during morning peak hour, Greens MP Colleen Hartland told Parliament the government had ignored the health and noise issues posed by 21,000 trucks travelling through the inner west daily.

“The government is not concerned about the health of residents in the inner west,” she said.

“We are not talking about trucks that deliver to supermarkets, stores or your home; we are talking about trucks coming to and from the port through residential streets.”

Ms Hartland said a World Health Organisation diesel pollution report linking diesel with cancer showed the need for a health impact assessment. But eight months after the report’s release Health Minister David Davis continues to rebuff the call.

“I have not made any decision at this point to take the action that she [Ms Hartland] indicates in terms of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, but I did see the report and will respond in due course,” Mr Davis said.

Western Region Health Centre CEO Lyn Morgain said environmental issues and awareness had an important impact on people’s health.

“WRHC thinks that it is incumbent upon the government to ensure that residents have access to the necessary expert advice regarding the risks associated with any air-quality issues or industrial impacts, not least because the consequence of fear and anxiety alone can be very real.”

The Maribyrnong Truck Action Group labelled last Tuesday’s blockade of Shepherd Bridge a great success, with about 200 residents calling on the government to revive the shelved Truck Action Plan.

The group has sought a meeting with new Premier Dennis Napthine and vowed further action will follow until a solution is found.

—Benjamin Millar

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