In case you haven't heard yet, we thought you would appreciate learning about VCAT's HRL decision asap.
As we aim to unite community voices as quickly and effectively as we can, we encourage you to post your thoughts on Environment Victoria's HRL decision response page http://www.facebook.com/environmentvictoria
In terms of where to now, all objectors are considering their options and we will keep you posted.
With thanks for your support,
Deborah, on behalf of the LIVE committee
29 March 2012
This is just one battle in our fight against coal
LIVE is deeply disappointed with VCAT’s ruling in favour of HRL’s proposed new 600MW coal fired electricity generator in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley.
“As every legitimate science agency in the world is calling for drastic cuts to greenhouse gas pollution, we are devastated that a project that would add hundreds of millions of tonnes of global warming gases to our atmosphere over decades to come could win legal support in a so called advanced state like Victoria” said Deborah Hart, Founder and Safe Climate campaigner for LIVE*.
During the VCAT hearing evidence was presented to demonstrate that HRL’s plant would not be ‘best practice’ electricity generation and that a myriad of safer, cleaner energy solutions are available and affordable.
“By every measure, whether it be human health, a safe environment or new, sustainable jobs, HRL’s project will fail Victorians.”
In making its decision VCAT overturned the Environment Protection Authority’s approval of a permit for only half of the plant’s capacity (300MW), along with what meagre environment restrictions had been applied to the project.
Big questions remain around the social and economic viability of HRL’s unpopular project, and who will ultimately bear the costs of the new coal plant.
“Having sat through 22 hearing days and read the transcripts, we can tell you that there was evidence presented that HRL’s project is not economically feasible, even with the $150 million of taxpayers money promised by the state and federal governments. Yet, as we all know, according to mainstream science, the real damage from this plant will be borne by the community now and in the future as we experience further extreme weather events.”
“If this project goes ahead, the community’s interests will be sacrificed in favour of a corporation seeking to profit from a project that will have enormous short and long term impacts on all of us.”
LIVE acknowledges Environment Victoria and our highly dedicated legal team for their extraordinary support throughout this long and complicated legal challenge.
CONTACT: Deborah Hart, Founder, LIVE, www.live.org.au
0458 44 77 02 or firstname.lastname@example.org
After 22 hearing days, the community’s legal challenge to HRL’s proposed new brown coal plant concluded this week. This case was particularly important for being the first time that Victoria’s environmental laws (not just stated principles and broken election promises!) were applied to a major proposal that will emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases, in the context of climate change.It goes without saying that running a case against a government agency and a well-resourced company is a significant challenge. We submitted that Dual Gas did not provide enough information to show that their project was economically viable or that it would displace dirtier brown coal fire power stations. And, having watched the hearing and read the transcripts, we can tell you that there was evidence presented that the Dual Gas plant would not be economically feasible.
Doctors for the Environment argued a strong case centered on the air pollutants that HRL’s plant would generate. The Doctors presented evidence showing that cumulative emissions from coal power stations can have serious health impacts on members of the community.
In order to demonstrate the social and economic impacts that the HRL plant would have on all Victorians, Martin Shield (an individual objector) sought to demonstrate the many ways in which climate change impacts from the plant would affect him personally. Shield earned the respect of all parties for the intelligent, measured way in which he represented his case.
With Environment Victoria leading the case, and on behalf of LIVE, the Environment Defenders Office, along with a committed team of pro bono barristers, ran what I believe was the best case that could have been brought at this time.
Our case relied on evidence that the Environment Protection Authority has approved a permit for a project (300Mw) that is inconsistent with:
We are not likely to hear the Tribunal’s final decision before the end of March at the earliest. In the meantime, the Federal government has extended HRL’s period to meet the conditions of its $100 million grant (to complement its $50 million from the State government) until 30 June 2012. You may have heard that, on the eve of the hearing’s conclusion, Michael Danby MP, the local member for Melbourne Ports where LIVE is based, addressed Parliament to defend the government’s decision to give HRL more time. (see our press release here).
Indeed it’s been an eye-opening, time warping adventure. On behalf of LIVE, an enormous thanks goes to our tireless friends at Environment Victoria, our wonderful legal team, the great Doctors for the Environment, and the amazing Martin Shield. Credit must also go to the three Tribunal members who patiently presided over this long and complicated case. Finally, we’ve also very much appreciated the encouraging well wishes from so many of you, stay tuned!
Fingers crossed everybody!
PS: For those of you who live in the City of Port Phillip, and particularly those who live in ELWOOD, and were affected by the floods a year ago, LIVE will be hosting an ELWOOD FLOODS FORUM on Monday 26 March. Preliminary details are here. . . http://www.live.org.au/elwood.