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Not a carport: ACF says Miles should call in Palmer's coal project

Business

The State Government has the power to call in and use its own approval process for Clive Palmer’s planned coal fired power station, according to legal advice given to the Australian Conservation Foundation.

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The proposal is going through the approval process at Barcaldine Council and would use coal from Palmer’s stalled coal project in the Galilee Basin.

But earlier this week, InQueensland revealed the State Government believed that any new coal fired power station would mean the closure of an existing one because of market dynamics which make the projects uneconomic when renewables are working at capacity.

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni recently told Estimates hearings that: “you cannot open a new coal-fired power station without determining which other one to close. It is a fact of the market.”

The Government also has a policy of reaching 50 per cent renewable energy generation by 2030 and a major power station would make that more difficult.

And now the Government is equating the plan to Palmer’s previous plans to build a Titanic replica.

A Government spokesman said today that Clive Palmer and his companies were required to follow the same approval processes as any other business.

 “There is no need for another coal fired power station in Queensland,” the spokesman said.

 “We already have the youngest fleet of government owned coal-fired generators supported by $9.9 billion of new investment in renewable generation. 

 “The Queensland Government has consistently committed to keeping our generators in public hands.   

Mr Palmer has been talking about a coal power station since 2009. He’s been talking about building a new titanic since 2012. And we all know what happened to the dinosaur park.

 “The first priority for Mr Palmer should be to deliver on his promise to reopen the Nickel refinery in Townsville, or at least compensate the workers who lost their jobs.

 The Grattan Institute’s Tony Wood said claims of lower prices, more reliable electricity and low emissions were “more than questionable”.

“It’s hard to see how governments or serious financiers could touch it,” he said.

According to ABC reports, the station would be a 1400 Mw high-efficiency, low emissions plant built on a cattle property located 30 kilometres north-west of the town of Alpha.

The station would use 4 million tonnes of coal each year, which would come from another Waratah Coal proposal – the Galilee Coal Project – which is adjacent to the site.

Shine Energy has a proposal for a 1000 Mw coal fired plant at Collinsville which has received similar scepticism.

ACF said Palmer was attempting to avoid state scrutiny by having the power station proposal assessed under local government laws, but advice from Saul Holt QC stated the Planning Minister had the power to call in a project where it may affect Queensland’s economic or environmental interests. 

“Clive Palmer’s attempt to use local government planning laws – laws designed for the approval of carports – for a new coal-fired power station is a big test of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to climate action,” said ACF campaigner Jason Lyddieth.

“If the Queensland government is serious about its emissions reduction and renewable energy targets, then it must reject this project.

“This legal advice confirms Planning Minister and Deputy Premier Steven Miles has the power to call it in. We urge him to do so.

“The Queensland government should be setting our state’s climate and energy policy, not Clive Palmer.

“A power plant as big as Stanwell is clearly a project that affects Queensland’s economy and environment.

“This plan flies in the face of efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change, to save the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree and the Wet Tropics.”

“New fossil fuel projects are a direct threat to future generations.

“The Palaszczuk government has won three elections promising climate action, yet we have seen little progress towards the inadequate emission reduction target of a 30% cut by 2030.

“We urge Minister Miles to call in this project plan, assess it and reject it.”

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