News | 25th May, 2011

Stricter rules for wind turbines than for coal plants

Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Adam Morton, The Age

Which would you rather have built near your home: a wind turbine or a coal power plant?

Under Baillieu government policy, it appears you have some say about the former, but not the latter.

The Coalition last year said that if elected it would return fairness to a lopsided planning system by not approving a wind turbine within two kilometres of a home without a signed contract with the resident. That policy is yet to be fleshed out.

By contrast, the Environment Protection Authority last week applied state law to grant Melbourne company HRL approval to build a 300 megawatt coal-fuelled plant at Morwell. It would be built within two kilometres of about 250 houses.

Lobby group Environment Victoria said the Coalition was making it easier for new electricity generation to come from coal than wind, at odds with national and state climate goals.

''It obviously sends the wrong signal when we are trying to clean up the energy supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,'' campaigns director Mark Wakeham said.

There was a mixed response yesterday from those living within two kilometres of the proposed plant site. Catherine, who did not want to give her surname, was unhappy about it.

''It seems to me that the coal plants they are building are coming closer and closer to the township of Morwell, and that will mean that residents will have to move further out from the town to get away from them.'' She said her asthma had worsened since she moved to the Latrobe Valley, and blamed air pollution from the stacks visible from her backyard. ''If we get a choice of a wind turbine going in instead of another coal plant, that would certainly be the way to go.''

Another resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said people in the valley were used to living near coal-fired power stations and did not object to a new one.

Doubt remains whether the plant will be built after the EPA approved a plant only half the size of what the company wanted, and The Saturday Age revealed that Australia's four big banks had refused finance. Federal government documents suggest the plant, trialling new coal gasification technology, needs to be at least 400 megawatts to be viable.

About 300 people rallied at State Parliament yesterday to protest against the plant's approval, calling on the federal and state governments to withdraw financial backing.

A state government spokeswoman said details of a wind-turbine buffer policy were still being developed, but it would be specific to wind farms, not to coal or gas plants.


Link to original article

Get more info on the NO NEW COAL – NO HRL DUAL GAS campaign here