A landmark legal challenge by environmental groups against a proposed new coal-fired power station for Victoria will begin in VCAT this morning.
At 10am, leading environment group Environment Victoria, joined by local community climate action group Local’s Into Victoria’s Environment (LIVE) will begin their legal challenge to the EPA’s approval of the power station.
Doctor’s for the Environment Australia (DEA) and a Moreland based individual, Mr. Martin Shield, will also challenge the EPA’s decision.
HRL, the company behind the power station, is also challenging the EPA decision to approve a 300MW power station rather than the 600MW they applied for. HRL is also challenging a number of environmental requirements placed on the power station by the EPA and arguing that the environment groups and Mr Shield do not have the right to appeal the EPA’s decision at VCAT.
A key argument for the environment groups is that the proposed power station does not meet best practice standards for electricity generation.
Environment Victoria Safe Climate Campaigner Victoria McKenzie-McHarg said today:
“This is a landmark legal challenge from the environmental community, and has enormous implications for the future of new coal-fired power stations in this state and nation wide.
“It’s very difficult to see how a new coal-fired power station can possibly be seen as ‘best-practice’ electricity generation in this day and age, when genuinely clean energy alternatives like wind and solar are on the table and ready to go.”
The legal challenge has been prepared by solicitors from the Environment Defenders Office with expert environmental law barristers Adrian Finanzio, Rupert Watters and Emma Peppler.
Felicity Millner, Principal Solicitor at the Environment Defenders Office said:
“This case is an important test case: it will determine how developments that will cause significant greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to climate change are assessed by the EPA.”
The first days of the hearing will focus on the issue of standing, following a challenge by HRL that Environment Victoria and other community groups don’t have the legal standing to bring the case.
“It’s disappointing that HRL is trying to gag Environment Victoria and others by challenging whether we can participate at VCAT. This could seriously threaten the ability of environment groups to stand up for our environment through the courts.” said Ms. McKenzie-McHarg.
The action by environmentalists is already having an impact, with construction work on the power station not allowed to commence while the project is subject to a legal challenge.
The hearing will begin on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 10am, and be heard at VCAT, 55 King St Melbourne.
A rally in support of the legal challenge by environmental groups will be held at VCAT at 12.45pm that day.
For further comments, please contact:
Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, Safe Climate Campaigner at Environment Victoria: 0428 480 409
Felicity Millner, Principal Solicitor, EDO: 0427 766 855