Environment Victoria is calling on the Baillieu Government to cancel a $50 million grant to the proposed HRL brown coal power station, revealing today that HRL has breached their State funding agreement.
A copy of HRL’s Victorian funding deed, released to Greens MLC Greg Barber through Freedom of Information and published today, shows that the $50 million in State funding is conditional on a $100 million Commonwealth grant to the project being in place.
The Commonwealth grant was cancelled three months ago by Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson. HRL received the State and Federal grants in 2006 and 2007 to build a new 600 Megawatt brown coal power station. A sustained community campaign and project delays led to HRL missing key milestones to the grants.
When the Commonwealth grant was cancelled the Baillieu Government said it would seek legal advice on withdrawing their $50 million grant, but has since been silent on the issue.
Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said today:
“Decisions don’t come much easier than this. HRL’s power station proposal is dirty, expensive and unpopular. The fact that HRL has now breached its State funding agreement provides the Baillieu Government with all it needs to withdraw the grant.”
HRL’s financial statements show that the company began to “draw down” the Victorian grant in late 2010. It has been estimated that up to $20 million has already been accessed by the company, even though the project lacks finance and has now almost certainly collapsed.
“This is a company whose business model rests largely on taxpayer-funded handouts. So until we get a clear announcement from the Baillieu Government that this grant has been cancelled, the safest assumption is that HRL are still accessing money from a grant which is not only ill-spent, but also technically invalid.
“Its time for the Baillieu Government to protect taxpayer’s money and withdraw the $50 million grant” Mr Wakeham concluded.
For comment: Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria Campaigns Director, 0439 700 501