Planning Favours Coal over Wind

I was doing a bit of digging around after my post titled “Renewable Energy Regression” to find out if there were any double standards around planning regulations for coal power stations vs wind farms.

Well is just so happens there is a very big double standard.  You may remember that I reported that;

“the Baillieu Government announced their new wind policy – banning new wind farms in whole regions of the state, and allowing any resident across Victoria to put a stop to a wind farm within 2km of their home.”

So we know that any person can veto a wind farm within 2km of their home, but can they do the same with a coal power plant?  Well it appears that they cannot.  It appears that they have no voice at all when it comes to the brown coal fired power stations in Victoria.  Last year, before approval by the EPA, 4,000 people objected to the EPA regarding the HRL proposal – the most objections that the EPA has ever received on any issue.  The HRL proposed “Dual Gas Power Station” which has now been EPA approval and is backed financiall by the Federal and State Governments will be an;

“integrated drying gasification combined cycle (IDGCC) which can reduce emissions of CO2 from brown coal-fired power generation by 30 per cent and reduce water consumption by 50 per cent, compared to current best practice for brown coal power generation in the Latrobe Valley.”- Peter Batchelor, 2008. 

Now the power station, the company claimed back in 2009, “will generate up to 550 megawatts of power using syngas (synthetic gas from the drying and gasification of brown coal) and natural gas (as a start up and supplementary fuel).”  It has since been downgraded to a 300 megawatt plant using the same technology.

However this still makes the HRL power station as dirty as a black coal fired power station.  Hardly clean energy in my books.

Anyway, back to planning.  So we have acertained that local citizens can veto a wind farm, and cannot veto a coal plant, even when the EPA asked for submissions in August 2010 and received many thousands of objections.  So how close is this proposed power station to homes?  Lets take a look at an aerial map (click to enlarge).

As you probably expected by now, there are about 250 homes within 2 km of the proposed site for the HRL power station in Morwell, Victoria. I bet most didn’t even know it was going to be built there. Talk about dual standard for energy planning. Me thinks that Big Coal may be in bed with a certain government, then again, that is not news at all. We all knew that.

If you want the good oil (pardon the pun) about the history of the HRL proposal, you could do no better than visiting

Moving towards a cleaner energy future? Pigs arse we are!


  1. says

    We are having a similar problem in the Hunter Valley where gas companies can come into farmland and test for gas or put in pipelines.( check out the Lock the gate alliance)
    You should be able to say no to these people but instead, decent people are being taken to court to gain access to beautiful farm land.
    “A man’s home is his castle ….unless a coal mine or a gas company comes along “-the saying just doesnt have the same ring to it with that last phrase tacked on it.

  2. says

    Interesting stuff.

    Over here in NZ, they’re finally cracking down on home coal burners in areas with low air quality.

    That’s terrific news, especially considering people will be given significant financial incentives to move to cleaner heating options that meet new, tighter guidelines.


    The irony is that one of the main areas they’ll be looking at, and tightening controls on personal coal burners is just down the road from a newly approved coal mine.

    Like – duh! I’d have thought the solution was to STOP DIGGING THE STUFF OUT OF THE GROUND FIRST!!!


    Sometimes we humans can be incredibly dumb.

  3. says

    Gavin, your research is illuminating. I’m a capitalist, and for using any local energy source above import, particularly OPEC. But, how foolishly we choose at times. And how often industry dollars have paid for legislation that causes us to foul our land. Land is not such an easily renewable resource – it can heal, but often very slowly, with some of it and it’s species never fully recovering.

    I’ve always been thrifty, so energy conservation falls right in, but these days want to improve more. For very long have felt the need to steward what is in my keeping, but need to work beyond that. Keep on with your work.

    brenda from arkansas

  4. says

    I spent a good part of my childhood in a coal-mining community. In fact, my grandfather worked in the coal mines before I was born, and I have an uncle who lost a leg in a coal mining accident.

    My experience is that – even before it’s burned to make electricity – coal destroys the environment, it destroys communities, it destroys lives. In southeastern Kentucky (USA) whole mountains have been removed to get to the stuff, the rivers and streams of pure, pristine mountain water are now toxic, and too many people live in squalor and half-hunger, dependent on our government to provide them food and income, because they can’t farm their land, which has been polluted by the mining industry.

    I am no friend of coal. I’ve seen too much of what it does to communities, to landscapes and to individuals.

Comments build lively communities. Let me know your thoughts, but keep it clean and green! Spam is removed instantly.