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Government fails to rule out burning native forest for electricity

The Nature Conservation Council is deeply disappointed that the NSW Government hasn't done more to plug loopholes and shut down attempts to marketise our native forests in its response to the Sustainability of energy supply and resources in NSW inquiry.  

Jacqui Mumford, Deputy Chief Executive of NCC: “The NSW Government has missed an opportunity to provide additional protections to our increasingly vulnerable native forests, and the wildlife they support.  

“Burning trees for electricity is backwards; it destroys habitat for NSW’s iconic species and is dirty, costly and unnecessary. 

“When the government says that only native forest residues are allowed to be woodchipped and burnt to generate electricity, they don't say that this can include entire trees.i 

“Proposed projects such as the Verdant Biomass Power Station in Singleton, if approved, will create a market for bulldozing smaller and wonky trees that should be left standing in the forest to provide critical habitat to koalas and other species.” 

The Verdant Biomass Power Station in Singleton could burn 850,000 tonnes of biomass per year, sourced within 300km of the Singleton. It could see a massive increase in native forest logging on the north coast of NSW, if the Perrottet government neglects to amend the definition of wood residues. 

“This report comes only a week after the koala was uplisted to endangered, and was a real opportunity to take a step in the right direction. 

“This Inquiry made it clear that the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 must be amended to close loopholes that allow native forests to be woodchipped and burnt for electricity. The Government has ignored the advice of experts.” 

Coal communities urgently want governments to step up and support clean energy transition and coal clean-up: poll

As Australia’s ageing fleet of coal-burning power stations move closer to closure, an overwhelming majority of people polled in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria and Hunter region of NSW agree that state and federal governments need to urgently step up to support both coal communities and industries to transition to clean energy.

The new polling comes as Australia's top polluter AGL prepares to deliver its 'market update' tomorrow, expected to include new climate targets and an earlier closure date for Loy Yang power station in the Latrobe Valley.

The YouGov poll, conducted for Environment Victoria and Nature Conservation Council of NSW, surveyed 600 people across the Latrobe Valley in Victoria and Hunter Valley in New South Wales.

It found a strong appetite for governments to take a more active role in supporting both communities and industry to transition to renewable energy, including ensuring that companies take responsibility for the toxic legacy of their coal power stations and mines.

The poll found that, across Hunter and Latrobe Valley:

  • More than three quarters (76%) agreed that governments should do more to transition from burning coal to renewable sources of power to meet our future energy needs.

In Victoria’s Latrobe Valley:

  • Nine out ten (90%) respondents agreed that as Victoria’s coal burning power stations and coal mines are closed down, the state government should ensure power station owners are responsible for the complete clean-up of sites so that they are safe and can be used for other purposes.
  • Eight out of ten (80%) respondents agreed that governments should support heavy industry to switch to affordable, renewable energy to support local manufacturing sectors.
  • Seven out of ten (70%) agreed that the state government should plan to retire old coal burning power stations over the next decade - with support for workers to retrain to be part of a solid economic future for the Latrobe Valley.
  • A clear majority (57%) of respondents supported an early closure of Loy Yang if there is a solid plan to look after workers.

In NSW’s Hunter Valley:

  • Eight out of ten of respondents (80%) agreed that the state government needs a plan to retire coal burning power stations in NSW over the next decade with support for workers to retrain to ensure a solid economic future for the local region.
  • Just over three quarters (77%) of respondents agree that the NSW government should do more to transition from coal to renewables
  • 68% of respondents agreed that so long as there is a plan to look after power station workers and the community, switching to renewable power over the next decade is the best option for NSW.
  • Over nine in ten (91%) of respondents agreed that retired coal power stations need to be rehabilitated.
  • 84% of respondents agree that the NSW government should support heavy industry to switch to renewable energy.
  • A strong majority (68%) believe that when coal power stations are retired, renewables and batteries should replace them.

Jono La Nauze, Environment Victoria CEO, said:

“This polling shows the Latrobe Valley community is urgently calling for a plan that will enable Victoria to move towards renewable energy while supporting the workers and communities that have powered the state for decades.”

“It's time for our governments to step up and show they are serious about developing the new industries and technologies that will create new jobs in these communities and enable all Victorians to reap the benefits of a transition to clean, renewable energy.”

“With the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) forecasting that all Victorian coal power stations could close by 2032, the need for a community-led transition plan is more urgent than ever.”

“Currently the Latrobe Valley Authority is only funded until mid 2022. We’re calling on the Victorian government to extend this funding until the last power station closes, and to work with locals to build a community-led transition plan for the region.”

“These results also make it glaringly clear that communities living close to coal mines want the state government to ensure that the private companies clean up their giant holes in the landscape and make them safe for future use.”

Jacqui Mumford, Nature Conservation Council acting Chief Executive, said:

“These results reveal many residents in the Hunter are looking toward a future beyond coal and waiting for politicians to support that change.”

 “Pretending this energy transition isn’t happening helps no one. We need power station owners to come clean with realistic closure dates by 2030, so the community can plan ahead. We need all governments to take a much more active role in planning a transition for workers and the community”

“These results show that Hunter Valley locals want a clear plan to support our industries to make the switch to clean energy. It’s time for politicians to catch up with the community.”

Local community leaders in the Latrobe Valley region also welcomed the findings.

Tony Wolfe, senior operator at Loy Yang Power Station and Latrobe Valley community advocate, said:

“The owners of these sites have irreversibly changed the landscape while collecting massive financial rewards. The Latrobe Valley community  deserves to have our land returned in pristine condition, and the State government needs to ensure sufficient training and support for displaced workers so they can convert to the new clean energy industries.”

“This presents a perfect opportunity to engage our local indigenous communities to guide us on the future stewardship of this land,” he said.

The Yougov phone poll was conducted on a representative sample of more than 600 Australian voters aged 18+ in the Latrobe Valley and Hunter regions.

Legislating emissions targets would be a step forward for NSW

The Nature Conservation Council urges the NSW Government to support the ALP’s proposal make emissions targets legally binding by enshrining them in law. [1] 

The NSW Government has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and halve them by 2030. 

 “We have applauded the NSW Government for setting ambitious emissions reduction targets but have always been concerned that they are purely aspirational and not legally binding,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 

“There is currently nothing to prevent a new government or a new leader scrapping or reducing these targets at the stroke of a pen. 

“Enshrining them in legislation makes it much harder for a future government to crab-walk away from these commitments to the people of NSW. 

“Legislating these targets would also provide greater certainty for clean-energy investors and for the general public. 

“I would urge the NSW Government to either support Labor’s bill when it comes before the house or put up their own, along the lines of Victoria’s 2017 Climate Change Act.” 


[1] NSW Labor to propose new legislation to protect net zero emissions target, SMH, 6-11-21. NSW Labor wants emissions reduction targets enshrined in law, AUS, 6-11-21 

Rylstone should have been spared the trauma of the NSW Government’s coal obsession

Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive, Chris Gambian said: 

“It is great news that the threat of coal mining, which has hung for almost a year over the heads of the Rylstone community, has now been lifted.   

“They should never have been subjected to the emotional trauma of resisting this outrageous proposal in the first place.  

“Now these good people can get on with their lives.  

 “The NSW Government should never again approve a coal or gas project in NSW.  

“We simply can’t afford it, for the climate, for nature and for our kids.” 

MEDIA CONTACT: James Tremain | 0419 272 254  

Vales Point Submission Guide

Download this submission guide as a PDF.

Tell the EPA: No more exemptions for Delta’s polluting Vales Point power station

Why make a submission?

  • For the last decade, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has granted an exemption to emissions standards to Delta Electricity’s Vales Point coal fired power station. These standards, set under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010 are the rules that determine how much pollution power stations and other polluting facilities can emit. The exemption granted to Vales Point power station mean it pollutes more nitrogen oxides (NOx) than it would otherwise be allowed to under NSW law.  
  • On 23 December 2020, Vales Point applied for another 5-year exemption. If granted, the power station will be able to keep emitting higher levels of NOx.
  • The exemption application means that Vales Point seeks to be allowed to emit up approximately double the limit set out in the Clean Air Regulation for power stations of this age.
  • NOx pollution contributes to numerous health problems, with particularly severe impacts on the respiratory system. Health impacts of NOx pollution particularly affect children, the elderly and people with chronic disease.
  • Right now, the public has an opportunity a window of time in which to convince the EPA to reject the exemption application and require Vales Point to install NOx pollution controls to reduce the power station's impact on public health.
  • Vales Point could install low NOx burners that would halve the amount of NOx it emits. This technology is already in use at the nearby Eraring coal power station.
  • Due to public concern about this pollution exemption, the EPA has taken the unusual step of doing community consultation before deciding about Vales Point’s pollution limits.
  • The consultation is open now and will close at 5pm on Wednesday the 10th November. They are accepting submissions via email or an online survey. 

How to make a submission 

To make your voice heard, you can email a submission to the EPA or complete their online survey. Consultation closes at 5pm on Wednesday the 10th November. 

Via email 

Write your submission 

  • Include the following in your written submission: 
    • introduce that you are writing about Delta Electricity’s NOx pollution exemption application for Vales Point power station. 
    • urge the EPA to:
      • reject Delta Electricity’s pollution exemption application
      • require Delta Electricity to install best practice pollution control technology.
    • explain how Delta Electricity's application is inadequate (see points attached). 
    • explain that you expect the EPA to uphold its responsibility to protect public health (see points attached).  
    • explain why reducing air pollution from Vales Point power station matters to you/your organisation.
    • finish your letter with your full name, address and organisation (if applicable).

Send your submission 

  • Send your submission letter in an email or as an attachment.  
  • In the subject line or email body include that you are writing with a submission. about Delta Electricity’s NOx pollution exemption application.
  • Send to: [email protected]

Take the survey 

1) Access the survey here:

2) In your responses: 

  • Indicate you ‘strongly oppose’ Delta Electricity’s pollution exemption application. 
  • When asked for specific comments about Delta Electricity’s application, state that it is inadequate (see points attached). 
  • When asked what your expectations are regarding air quality controls, explain:
  • that you expect the EPA to require Delta Electricity to install best practice pollution control technology
  • that you expect the EPA to uphold its responsibility to protect public health (see points attached)
  • why reducing air pollution from Vales Point power station matters to you/your organisation. 

Key points to cover in your submission 

Nitrogen Oxide pollution causes significant harm to human health

  • NOx pollution contributes to numerous health problems, with particularly severe impacts on the respiratory system.[i] 
  • It is well established that NOx pollution, even in very low concentrations, causes asthma. [ii] Growing evidence also suggests that exposure to NOx pollution can contribute to heart disease and premature mortality. [iii]
  • Health impacts of NOx pollution particularly affect children, the elderly and people with chronic disease.[iv] 
  • Health experts recommend strict standards on NOx emissions to protect the health of communities.[v]
  • NOx pollution also forms secondary fine particulates, which cause heart attacks, strokes and premature death.
  • Since the last exemption assessment in 2015 the US EPA has upgraded their assessment that chronic exposure to NOx causes respiratory disease.[iii]
  • Since the last exemption assessment in 2015, the World Health Organisation drastically reduced its guidelines for NOx and fine particle pollution. The WHO annual guideline for NOx of 10 ug/m3 (4.87 ppb) is regularly breached at monitoring sites close to the Vales Point power station. The WHO annual guideline for PM2.5 of 5 ug/m3 is breached across the Sydney Greater Metropolitan Area, and coal power station NOx is a significant contributor to this pollution.

Vales Point Power Station is one of the state’s biggest polluters and its emissions cause significant harm to human health 

  • Vales Point contributes to the overall health burden from coal fired power stations in NSW. Research has shown that pollution from coal fired power stations leads to 477 deaths, 450 low-birthweight babies and 7,582 symptom days for children and young adults with asthma in NSW each year.[vi] This health cost to the NSW economy is estimated at over $1.4 billion each year.[vii]
  • The highest concentrations of NOx air pollution from coal-fired power stations is in the air where the power station is located. This means that communities near the power station are exposed to the highest concentrations of Vales Point NOx air pollution. Vales Point is located at Mannering Park on the Central Coast. The power station is one of the most urban power stations in Australia and is surrounded by the highly populated areas of Lake Macquarie, Gosford and Newcastle.
  • Research by Dr Ben Ewald, from the University of Newcastle, has found that 6% of asthmatic children in Lake Macquarie local government area (LGA) have asthma due to power station NOx pollution. In the Central Coast LGA, NOx pollution from power stations causes the disease in 5% of asthmatic children. This equates to 650 children with asthma in the local region who have asthma directly attributable to coal-fired power station NOx pollution.[viii] 
  • Eraring power station, located nearby, installed low NOx burners in 2012 and now emits NOx at approximately half the rate of Vales Point.

Air emissions standards for coal power stations in Australia are extremely lax compared to other countries 

Power stations in NSW are licenced to emit toxic air pollution at concentrations far greater than power stations in other jurisdictions. 

  • Vales Point is allowed to pollute up to 1500 mg/m3 NOx. In the EU, for example, the limit (annual average) for existing power stations is just 150 mg/m3.[ix] Vales Point complies with its licence, but the licence limits are decades out of date. 
  • To comply with tighter NOx emissions limits, coal-fired power station operators in Europe, the United States, and Asia have retrofitted pollution controls to reduce NOx emissions by up to 90%.[x] These measures are standard practice internationally.[xi]


Technologies to reduce NOx pollution are available, feasible and practical. 

  • There are two main technologies available to reduce NOx pollution, and Vales Point is fitted with neither: 
    • Low NOx burners (LNB): Retrofitting an existing plant with low NOx burners is the traditional starting point for NOx reduction and is usually the most cost effective, reducing NOx emissions by up to 50%.
    • Selective catalytic reduction (SRC): More expensive and effective technology that reduces NOx emissions by up to 90%.
  • The Vales Point Pollution Reduction Program Study found that installation of low NOx burners and/or SRC at Vales Point is technically feasible and could bring Vales Point NOx emissions below well below 500 mg/m3.[xii]
  • Nearby Eraring power station, which has already installed low NOx burners, demonstrates that NOx emissions can be significantly and feasibly reduced, leaving no reason to extend the exemption for Vales Point.


Rejecting the exemption application would have significant health benefits

  • Scientists from NSW health estimate that removing coal power station NOx emissions would result in 38,000 additional life-years for the people of Sydney.[xiii] 
  • Additionally, Newcastle epidemiologist Dr Ben Ewald estimates that 650 cases of childhood asthma are caused by coal power station NOx pollution in the Lake Macquarie and Central Coast region.
  • While the power station only occasionally breaches the 800 mg/m3 NOx limit in the clean air regulation, moving to full compliance would require the power station to reduce its average emissions and health burden significantly.
  • Engineering consultants commissioned by Delta Electricity identified a range of pollution control technologies that are technically feasible and would enable Delta to comply with the NOx limits in the Clean Air Regulation.[xiv]
  • Low NOx burners would halve NOx emissions, and are the cheapest technology that would guarantee compliance with the Clean Air Regulation.


Delta Electricity’s application is inadequate as it fails to quantify health impacts

  • Delta Electricity ignored a requirement from the EPA to assess the power station’s contribution to secondary particle pollution and ozone on the basis that the power station “does not have a discernible impact” on secondary PM2.5 and ozone.[xv] This is directly contradicted by all available independent research, including studies by NSW Health [xvi], International experts [xvii], and NSW Government scientists[xviii] which find that the five coal power stations in NSW are among the biggest contributors to PM2.5 pollution and that reducing NOx and SO2 emissions at power stations would cause significant improvement in the health of the people of the Sydney region.
  • Delta Electricity also ignored a requirement from the EPA to assess the direct health benefits of technically feasible NOx pollution controls, such as low NOx burners and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR). If it had completed this assessment it would have found significant benefits.
  • Rather than assessing the benefits of installing technically feasible NOx pollution controls, Delta manipulated historical emissions data by selectively removing exceedances, and assessed the benefits of the manipulated emissions data. This assessment does not reflect any real-world engineering scenario, is misleading and false and should be rejected by the EPA. 


Fitting air pollution controls would financially feasible, and a small, reasonable cost in the scheme electricity generation. 

  • Delta Electricity’s own assessment by Jacobs shows that NOx emissions could be halved by installing low-NOx burners for a total cost of approximately $88m including capital and operating costs.[xix]
  • Best-available technologies such as Selective Catalytic Reduction are also technically feasible, resulting in a total NOx emission reduction of over 90%.
  • For the year ending 30 June 2020, Vales Point power station turned a pre-tax profit of over $141 million.[xx]
  • Delta Electricity could halve NOx emissions from Vales Point for a cost that is a fraction of its annual profit.
  • Since the current owners of Vales Point purchased the power station for $1m, it has enjoyed seven years of exemptions to the NSW Clean Air Regulation. In that time the owners have extracted dividends into the hundreds of millions and increased the book value of the power station by hundreds of millions.

Granting a further 5 year exemption would breach the EPA’s a responsibility to protect public health 

  • The EPA must consider the impact that approving the application will have on local and regional air quality and amenity, including the principles of ecologically sustainable development. In particular, the objectives of the EPA set out in the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 include [xxi]:
    • protect, restore and enhance the quality of the environment in NSW; and
    • to reduce the risks to human health and prevent the degradation of the environment.
  • To achieve the above objectives, the EPA is empowered by the same Act to:
    • promote pollution prevention;
    • set mandatory targets for environmental improvement; and
    • promote community involvement in decisions about environmental matters.
  • Should the EPA grant the application, it will have failed to fulfil its statutory objectives.
  • Part 5 of the Clean Air Regulation (the relevant part of the Clean Air Regulation for Delta’s application) sets out a “ratchet mechanism” which provides for the phasing out of ageing activities or technologies to drive environmental improvements in industry.
  • If Delta Electricity is given a third consecutive exemption, it cannot be said that the EPA is adequately using existing mechanisms to result in environmental improvements and pollution reduction. 



i U.S. EPA. (2016), Basic Information About NO2. Available at: 

ii Knibbs, Cortés de Waterman, Toelle, Guo, Denison, Jalaludin, Williams (2018), The Australian Child Health and Air Pollution Study (ACHAPS): A national population based cross-sectional study of long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution, asthma, and lung function. Environment International, 120, 394-403. Available at: 

iii U.S. EPA. (2016), Integrated Science Assessment (ISA) for Oxides of Nitrogen – Health Criteria. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. Available at: 

iv U.S. EPA. (2016), Basic Information About NO2. Available at: 

v Clare Walter, Maxwell Smith et al. (2019), Health-based standards for Australian regulated thresholds of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone: Expert Position Statement 2019. Available at: 

vi Dr. Aidan Farrow, Andreas Anhäuser and Lauri Myllyvirta (2020), Lethal Power: How Burning Coal is Killing People In Australia. Available at: 

vii Johnson, Chris et al. (2020), Costs of Negative Health Outcomes Arising from Air Pollution from Coal-fired Power stations, Actuaries Institute of Australia Annual Hackathon. Available at: 

viii Ewald, B, (January 2021), Power station NO2 emissions and paediatric asthma in Central Coast, Hunter Valley and Sydney Local Government Areas 

ix Note this is the annual average limit. Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2017/1442 of 31 July 2017 establishing best available techniques (BAT) conclusions, under Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, for large combustion plants, table 3, page L 212/30. Available at: 

x Jacobs Group (Australia) Pty Limited (2017), Vales Point Power Station Delta Electricity NOX Pollution Reduction Study (PRS), pp.43-44. Available at: 

xi Jacobs Group (Australia) Pty Limited (2017), Vales Point Power Station Delta Electricity NOX Pollution Reduction Study (PRS), pp.43-44. Available at: 

xii Jacobs Group (Australia) Pty Limited (2017), Vales Point Power Station Delta Electricity NOX Pollution Reduction Study (PRS), pp.9. Available at: 

xiii Richard A.Broome, Jennifer Powell, Martin E.Cope, and Geoffrey G. Morgan, The mortality effect of PM2.5 sources in the Greater Metropolitan Region of Sydney, Australia, Environment International, Volume 137, April 2020, 105429. Available at: 

xiv Jacobs, Vales Point - Evaluation of Potential NOx Emission Controls, 2021. Available at: 

xv Katestone, Vales Point Power Station Air Quality Assessment for Group 5 Exemption Extension, October 2021, Available at: 

xvi Richard A.Broome, Jennifer Powell, Martin E.Cope, and Geoffrey G. Morgan, The mortality effect of PM2.5 sources in the Greater Metropolitan Region of Sydney, Australia, Environment International, 8 Volume 137, April 2020, 105429. Available at: 

xvii Aidan Farrow, Andreas Anhäuser and Lauri Myllyvirta, Lethal Power: How Burning Coal is Killing People in Australia (Report, August 2020). Available at: 

xviii Lisa Chang et. al., Major Source Contributions to Ambient PM2.5 and Exposures within the New South Wales Greater Metropolitan Region, Atmosphere 2019, 10, 138, available at: 

xix Jacobs Group (Australia) Pty Limited (2017), Vales Point Power Station Delta Electricity NOX Pollution Reduction Study (PRS), pp.10. Available at: 

xx Sunset Power International Pty Ltd, Financial statements, 2019. See: 

xxi Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991, s 6. Available at:  


Priorities for nature and climate in the 2021 local government elections  

Download PDF

Sign up to campaign in your local area!


Set ambitious targets for bushland and urban tree canopy cover

  • Set targets for urban trees and urban tree canopy cover. If a target already exists, review it.[1] Develop a plan to achieve the target.
  • Set a target for bushland cover. If a target already exists, review it. Develop a plan to achieve the target. Protect and restore remnant bushland, revegetate, protect significant trees
  • Enhance protections for remnant bushland and trees through Local Environment Plans and

Development Control Plans.

  • Invest more in bushland restoration through the control of weeds and feral animals.
  • Oppose removal of bushland and significant trees to enable development.[2]
  • When planning and executing bushfire hazard reduction measures, use the latest scientific advice to minimise environmental impacts.

Ensure a koala-friendly council

  • Pass the Nature Conservation Council’s Koala Friendly Council motion (available at

Create wildlife corridors

  • Identify potential wildlife corridors to link significant wildlife habitat remnants.
  • Invest in tree planting, revegetation and ongoing maintenance for these corridors.

Encourage use of native plants

  • Use more native plants in council parks and gardens.
  • Provide free native plants to home gardeners.



Clean up council operations

Set a target of net-zero emissions for all council operations by 2025 by:

  • Using 100% clean electricity for all council operations.
  • Making all council vehicles, including garbage trucks, electric.

Clean up local transport

  • Accelerate the installation of rapid charge electric vehicle stations by working with the local community, businesses and state governments.
  • Enhance active transport infrastructure by building and maintaining more and higher quality bike paths and footpaths.

Help locals, businesses and organisations slash their emissions

  • Create and implement a local-emissions reductions plans with clear targets.
  • Set ambitious energy performance standards for all new developments.

Support national and international movements to reduce emissions

  • Adopt the Climate Emergency Declaration, which is already supported by more than 2000 councils across 34 countries.[3]
  • Sign up to the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership, Australia’s largest local government climate network, made up of over 145 councils from across the country, representing over half of the Australian population.[4]



Ensure a diverse and drought-resilient water system

  • Oppose the construction of new dams or other rainfall dependent water sources.
  • Invest in system-wide water efficiency.
  • Investigate stormwater harvesting and recycling.
  • Investigate the use of purified recycled water.

Reduce water waste

  • Encourage water saving in households with education and water saving devices.
  • Investigate current water wastage across the LGA and implement ways to reduce waste.
  • Subsidise rainwater tanks for residential use across the LGA.

Restore our rivers and waterways

  • Restore natural wetlands for benefits including stormwater management.
  • Set ambitious targets to improve the health of all rivers within the LGA.
  • Invest in the active restoration of riparian zone vegetation.


Sign up to campaign in your local area!



[1] The NSW Government has pledged to plant 1 million trees in Greater Sydney by 2022 and 5 million by 2030. It also wants to increase tree canopy cover in Greater Sydney from 16% to 40% by 2030. See Total Environment Centre and NSW Government.

[2] If a project is considered critical infrastructure, apply best-practice approaches to offsetting. First, try to avoid impacts entirely. Second, if impacts are unavoidable, minimise them by modifying the proposal. Third, as a last resort, offset the impacts by restoring and permanently protecting similar habitat nearby.



Mt Piper to close five years sooner than announced last month?

The Nature Conservation Council urges state and federal government to fast-track transition planning for Lithgow after one the nation’s leading energy experts warned coal-fired power generation could end in Australia by 2035 or sooner. 

The Australian Financial review reported today: 

Energy Security Board chairman Kerry Schott has predicted coal-fired power will disappear from the National Electricity Market by the mid-2030s if not earlier – cutting short the rated life of some generators by more than a decade.  

“This forecast has serious implications for Lithgow and makes the need for detailed, comprehensive transition planning more urgent than ever,” Nature Conservation Council Campaigns Director Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 

“Last month Energy Australia announced it would close its Mt Piper Power station in 2040, two years earlier than originally planned.  

“Now it seems that revised deadline is already out of date. 

“The people of Lithgow need the state and federal governments to support the development of industries that leverage Lithgow’s natural advantages — its skilled workforce and stunning natural assets, like the Gardens of Stone. 

“That means developing a detailed, comprehensive transition plan that includes strategies to develop the city’s eco-tourism and manufacturing potential. 

“Lithgow has tremendous opportunities, but it needs government support to realise them. 

“The 2035 timeline is still five years slower than climate science demands, so it's likely to be revised forward again. 

“Retirement of coal power stations by 2030 is crucial if we are to pass on a safe climate to our children.” 

MEDIA CONTACT: James Tremain | 0419 272 254  



Coal power likely gone by 2035: Schott 
Angela Macdonald-Smith and Mark Ludlow 
Oct 11, 2021 – 4.46pm 

Energy Security Board chairman Kerry Schott has predicted coal-fired power will disappear from the National Electricity Market by the mid-2030s if not earlier – cutting short the rated life of some generators by more than a decade. 

“Coal is inexorably leaving the system and I personally think it’s going to leave much faster than people initially thought. It really is struggling to make money,” Dr Schott told The Australian Financial Review Energy and Climate Summit amid intense debate about the future of coal in the push to net zero emissions. 

“It’s what coaches were to motor cars really, it’s no more viable. 

Some of Australia’s coal power generators are due to run until the late 2040s but they are being undercut by cheap renewables, which are also forcing them to run more flexibly. 

Coal power stations are also suffering more outages as they get older and less reliable, said Australian Energy Market Operator CEO Daniel Westerman, describing the economic conditions for their owners as “quite hard”. 

EnergyAustralia and Origin Energy have already brought forward closure dates for coal stations, while AGL Energy is also working towards an earlier exit than the 2048 date of its newest plant. 

AGL CEO Graeme Hunt signalled earlier closure dates were highly likely but emphasised that several “pre-conditions” had to be met to prevent a “crash landing” on the glide path of decarbonisation that could see the lights go out. 

Mr Hunt said there was still a need to keep power supply reliable and affordable at the same time as cutting emissions. 

He compared the effort around planning for coal plant closures as trying to land “on a runway that is moving towards us all the time” and warned that the energy price crisis playing out in Europe could start to be felt here if the transition is not managed well. 

“If we get the glide path wrong we could end up in the same place,” he said. 

AGL is due to release new climate commitments for its to-be-demerged businesses, Accel Energy and AGL Australia, in the documentation for the restructuring. 

Mr Hunt also effectively ruled out AGL resuming plans to build a gas-fired generator near Newcastle as part of its plans to replace the Liddell coal power plant, which is due to close in 2022-23. 

He said the federal government’s decision to get Snowy Hydro to build a gas power generator at Kurri Kurri made that now “far more unlikely” as the gap in the market had been filled by other investments. 

Out of coal by 2040 

EnergyAustralia chief executive Mark Collette – who runs another one of Australia’s largest carbon emitters – said the company would be out of coal by 2040.  

The supplier recently announced it would bring forward the closure of its Mt Piper coal-fired power station from 2042. 

“We see the clean energy transformation, and a commitment to net zero is all about reducing emissions while keeping reliability up. So that’s the game plan,” he told the Summit. 

“We have committed to be out of coal by 2040 because, in our judgment, coal will not be required in our energy system.” 

But Dr Schott predicted coal-fired power could be gone from the National Electricity Market by the mid-2030s.  

She said coal would still be exported to other countries whose energy systems were not as advanced as Australia, but it would not be needed for power generation here. 

The exit of coal-fired power is still set to cause issues for system stability for when the sun was not shining and the wind was not blowing. Renewables can already at times make up about 70 per cent of power generation, and are expected to reach 100 per cent by 2025. 

“This is terrific news for emissions reduction, but it means we do need to make changes to the system,” Dr Schott said.  

“It’s not an easy transition. 



EnergyAustralia to close NSW coal power early 

Angela Macdonald-Smith 
Senior resources writer 
Sep 23, 2021 – 2.24pm 

EnergyAustralia will bring forward the closure of its Mt Piper coal power plant in NSW as part of new commitments on emissions reduction including a 60 per cent cut by 2028-29. 

The electricity and gas supplier, which earlier this year brought forward the closure date for its Yallourn brown coal-fired generator in Victoria to 2028, committed to exit from coal power generation by 2040 and set a target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

The target to exit coal brings forward the closure date for Mt Piper from the currently scheduled 2043 by at least three years, but EnergyAustralia did not give a specific date. 

EnergyAustralia’s Mt Piper coal power plant near Lithgow in NSW will now close by 2040.  

“While Mt Piper’s ultimate retirement date will be determined by several factors, we are committed to long-term planning and supporting the transition for our workers and our local communities,” EnergyAustralia chief executive Mark Collette said. 

The decision comes as rival AGL Energy faces escalating pressure over its coal power generation, with news on Wednesday of legal action mounted by Environment Victoria against it and other brown coal power generators in the state, adding to pressure already coming from shareholders and investors. 

Baseload coal power plants, which still supply almost 70 per cent of electricity demand in the National Electricity Market, are struggling with the collapse in wholesale power prices earlier this year and with the need to operate more flexibly given the influx of wind and solar power onto the grid. 

“The clean energy transformation is accelerating, with more renewable, storage and flexible energy technology available at lower costs than ever before,” Mr Collette said. 


Vales Point coal pollution video

Bylong Valley spared from coal mining again

Bylong Valley has again been spared destruction by coal mining. The valley’s salvation this time was delivered by the NSW Court of Appeal, which this morning rejected KEPCO’s appeal against an earlier refusal. [1] 

The Korean mining giant had bought prime farmland in Bylong Valley near Mudgee in the state’s Central West and planned to construct a 6.5 million-tonnes-a-year coal mine. 

When the Independent Planning Commission rejected the plan in 2019, citing climate impacts among the grounds for its refusal, the company appealed to the Land and Environment. 

That court upheld the IPC decision but KEPCO appealed again [2], this time the Court of Appeal, which handed down its decision this morning.  

“Congratulations to Bylong Valley Protection Alliance, who have fought doggedly for years to save their beautiful region, and to the Environmental Defenders Office for so ably representing their client,” Nature Conservation Council Chris Gambian said.  

“Today’s decision should be the end of years of uncertainty for local landholders and communities who have fought a David-and-Goliath struggle to save their way of life and their beautiful valley.  

“It is a great victory for the people and comes off the back of the Southern Highlands community defeating the Hume coal project just a few weeks ago. 

“It is baffling that government resources are still being wasted on assessment of fossil fuel projects like these when the best scientific advice clearly against it.   

“We cannot afford to let the fossil fuel industry open any new mines or gas fields if we are to have a hope of keeping global temperatures within safe levels.” 


[1] Bylong Community Wins Again as Coal Mine Appeal is Dismissed, EDO, 14-9-21 

[2] Huge legal win sees greenfield Bylong Coal Project refusal upheld, EDO, 18-12-2020  

Submission to the Preliminary Regional Issues Assessment – Hawkins and Rumker potential release areas

Submission to the Preliminary Regional Issues Assessment – Hawkins and Rumker potential release areas

The Nature Conservation Council opposes the issuing of any new coal exploration licence.

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