News | 26th Aug, 2011

Gas firm ordered to justify secrecy

Friday, 26 August 2011
Melissa Jenkins, 9 News

A company that wants to build a brown coal- and gas-fired power station in Victoria has been ordered to explain why information about the project should remain secret.

HRL was granted approval by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) earlier this year to build a 300 megawatt demonstration plant in the Latrobe Valley.

The company had applied to build a 600 megawatt plant.

Environment groups trying to stop construction of the plant have taken the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Read more about our campaign here

HRL subsidiary Dual Gas is also challenging the EPA's decision, arguing it should be permitted to build the larger plant and restrictions regarding noise pollution and sulphur dioxide are too tough.

Stuart Morris, QC, for Dual Gas, said sensitive technical information about the plant should be kept confidential.

He said the technology involved had a high intellectual property value.

"My client sees the major return of the proposal (as) being able to sell technology throughout the world that will make a major contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases," he told the hearing in Melbourne on Friday.

"We should do all we can to ensure that intellectual property is not impaired by this process."

EPA lawyer Simon Molesworth, QC, said it would be impossible for the authority to prepare its case without being able to provide expert witnesses with uncensored technical information about the plant.

Adrian Finanzio for Environment Victoria said the onus was on Dual Gas to provide information to the tribunal and then make an application explaining why parts of it should remain secret.

VCAT deputy president Mark Dwyer ordered Dual Gas to provide an affidavit by Thursday next week explaining why some information should be kept confidential.

He reserved his decision on that aspect of the case until Thursday.

The main hearing concerning the plant will begin on October 24.

More on our campaign against new coal power for Victoria