Pages tagged "Climate"
The Nature Conservation Council calls for a legislated ban on mining in all drinking water catchments in NSW following the Independent Planning Commission’s decision to reject the Dendrobium coal mine expansion today.
“The Dendrobium decision is a victory for commonsense and for the many people who have campaigned for years to protect our water supplies,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“It should signal the beginning of the end of coal mining in Sydney’s precious drinking water catchment but the threat remains.
“That’s why the NSW Government should legislate a ban on mining in all drinking water catchments in NSW to ensure coal mines can never again threaten the security of our drinking water supplies.
“Coal mining drains billions of litres of water out of the metropolitan catchment every year, enough to supply thousands of homes in Sydney and the Illawarra.
“Such waste is inexcusable at a time when coal mining is also worsening heatwaves and bushfires though climate change. To have approved this mine expansion would have been a grave mistake.
“Unfortunately, this is not the only threat from coal mining to important water resources and habitat, including the Angus Place expansion near Lithgow and plans to tunnel uner Woronora Reservoir.”
Mr Gambian said the decision reflected poorly on the NSW Planning Department, which had recommended the expansion be approved despite serious risks to water, rare swamplands and Aboriginal heritage.
“The Planning Department has time and again put the interests of coal companies ahead of local communities and the environment,” he said.
“There should be a review of the department’s processes to determine how it could have so enthusiastically endorsed this proposal, which was clearly not in the public interest.”
Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said: “We welcome the appointment of Chris Bowen to lead federal Labor’s climate and energy portfolio.
“Mr Bowen’s formidable intellect and political skills make him well suited for one of the most challenging policy areas in modern Australian politics.
“Mr Bowen’s deep understanding of the economic consequences of a failure to act on climate change, as well as his deep care for communities and the environment, will help him drive the climate debate and offer up meaningful alternatives to the Morrison government’s hopeless program.
“We also acknowledge and thank Mark Butler for his hard work in the portfolio over many years.
“We look forward to working with Mr Bowen and continuing our strong relationship with Terri Butler in the environment and water portfolios.”
Media contact: James Tremain | 0419 272 254
The Nature Conservation Council has asked the Environment Protection Authority to consult the public and health professionals before deciding whether to grant Vales Point power station a further five-year exemption from nitrogen oxide pollution limits in the NSW Clean Air Regulation.
“We have written to the EPA recommending that it reject the application and to let health professionals and the people who live in the shadow of the Vales Point smoke stacks to be heard,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“The extremely high level of nitrogen dioxide pollution coming out of Vales Point power station is a serious public health issue.
“It is only right that the communities bearing the brunt of the health effects of this facility be given a chance to have a say about how it is regulated.
“NO2 pollution from coal power stations causes asthma in 650 children on the Central Coast. 
“These children would not have asthma if power stations in NSW, including Vales Point, met emissions standards that apply in other countries.
“Delta Electricity, which owns Vales Point, is massively profitable and could easily afford to install pollution controls that would significantly address the problem.
“Delta is a cabal of capitalists with one objective — to run their coal-fired power station with minimum pollution controls for as long as possible to maximise their profits, regardless of the human health and the environmental impacts.
“The EPA should be standing up for the people, not allowing big polluters harm the health of children on the Central Coast."
Delta Electricity applied for the exemption from NO2 emissions standards in December. The EPA has 60 days to make its decision (February 21), or 90 days if it gives the public and health professionals a say (March 23).
 Ewald, B, (January 2021), Power station NO2 emissions and paediatric asthma in Central Coast, Hunter Valley and Sydney Local Government Areas
MEDIA CONTACT: James Tremain | 0419 272 254
Vales Point power station, one of the state’s biggest polluters, must not be granted another five-year exemption from the Clean Air Regulation, according to the Nature Conservation Council.
“Vales Point is a massively polluting business that makes mega profits for its billionaire owner because the NSW Government and the EPA keeps letting it off the hook,” Nature Conservation Council Acting CEO Jacqui Mumford said.
“This power station is not only fueling climate change, it is harming the health of hundreds of kids on the Central Coast.
“Vales Point emits nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution at twice the rate of other coal power stations because it hasn’t invested in even the most basic equipment that can reduce this pollution.
“The free ride has to end.”
The owner of Vales Point, Delta Electricity, applied to the EPA for another five year exemption from the state’s clean air laws on December 23. The EPA is now considering the application.
Vales Point’s current Environmental Protection Licence allows up to 1500 milligrams of nitrogen dioxide to be emitted per cubic metre of exhaust, while under the NSW Clean Air Regulation, polluting facilities of the same age must emit around half as much pollution, at 800 milligrams per cubic metre. 
Nitrogen dioxide from coal power stations causes respiratory diseases and is responsible for hundreds of kids in the local area developing asthma.
“Coal power stations should not be above the law when it comes to polluting our air,” Ms Mumford said.
“It’s time Vales and all power stations in NSW stopped poisoning the air we breathe and protected the health of people who live around Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast.
“For 10 years, the Vales Point coal power station has been exempted from the Clean Air Regulation. Enough is enough. We call on the EPA to reject this latest application.
“Installing low-NOx burners would halve the nitrogen dioxide pollution that the plant releases into the community, at a cost which is just a fraction of its annual profit.
“The EPA has not yet committed to holding public consultations on this application, so if locals want to see cleaner air in their community, we encourage them to get in touch with the EPA to ask them to reject this application.”
- The Federal Government has earmarked a $8.7 million subsidy for repairs to Vales Point power station, which is owned by coal baron Trevor St Baker.
- The power station is expected to close by 2029, but its owner has stated that it would run the plant as long as possible. ASIC filings show that last year the power station made a before tax profit of $141 million. 
- An engineering report commissioned by the power station found that fitting low-NOx burners to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions would cost about $33 million. 
- Mr St Baker has a record of gaining from government decisions. He bought Vales Point power station from the NSW Government for $1 million in 2015 and made $113 million in profit on the deal in 2017-18. 
- Mr St Baker is a regular political donor, and former National Party candidate.
 Schedule 3, p83, Protection of the Environment (Clean Air) Regulation 2002
 Vales Point power station’s billionaire beggars receive $62 million dividend, 1-12-20, NCC Media release
 The man who bought Vales Point power station from the NSW Government for a song has new plans for the site, 23-1-19, Newcastle Herald
The Federal Government must withdraw its $8.7 million grant to Vales Point power station after revelations that owners Trevor St Baker and Brian Flannery took $62 million in dividends in FY2019-20.
Details of the superprofit are contained in Financial Statements and Reports posted with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission for Delta Electricity and subsidiary Sunset Power International.
"Other coal power station owners have refurbished their turbines with their own money — only Trevor St Baker's company is seeking government handouts to refurbish its coal-fired power station,” Nature Conservation Council Campaigns Director Brad Smith said.
"Voters must be wondering why Angus Taylor is providing taxpayer handouts to wealthy coal barons like these.
"It's outrageous that Sunset Power International made a $141 million profit while seeking a taxpayer handout of $8.7 million to maintain their aging power station.
“This deal is not only bad for taxpayers, it is bad for the climate.
“Every three months the turbine refurbishment adds to the life of the power station will cause one million additional tonnes of climate pollution.
"It's clear that this is a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money and Angus Taylor must not award this grant."
The financial statement reports the value of the Vales Point, which Mr St Baker bought from the NSW Government for a bargain $1 million, was written down by $113 million due to increased competition from solar and wind generation.
Mr St Baker last week reportedly threatened to sue the NSW Government for damages if it implemented its clean energy package.
The package aims to increase renewable generation in NSW by 12 GW by 2030..
"It's now clear that Trevor St Baker's attempt to scupper the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Investment Roadmap was based on self-interest and against the interests of NSW consumers,” Nature Conservation Council Campaigns Director Brad Smith said.
Mr St Baker has made $198,050 in political donations over the past three years.
AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW
Power barons pocket $62m, slash Vales Point value
Dec 1, 2020 – 12.01am
Power barons Trevor St Baker and Brian Flannery have slashed the value of the Vales Point power station by almost half despite posting a profit and pocketing a $62 million dividend from the NSW coal plant they bought for $1 million from the state government
Mr St Baker has also agreed to buy out Mr Flannery's 50 per cent share of the NSW coal power station near Lake Macquarie – which supplies about 4 per cent of power for the national grid.
The company – in which the duo are the only shareholders – slashed the value of the plant by 45 per cent to $221.7 million, down from $408.8 million last year, documents lodged by Sunset Power International with the corporate regulator showed.
The hefty write-down comes just five years after the duo paid the NSW government only $1 million for the facility on the state’s Central Coast in 2015.
The Sunset Power group blamed the pandemic-induced cut in demand for electricity and competition.
"Electricity prices and Vales Point production remained high in the first half of the financial year," Sunset Power said in its financial report.
"But reduced demand for electricity in the National Electricity Market as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with an increase in the supply of renewable electricity, has resulted in lower electricity prices and reduced production at Vales Point Power station.
"As a result of realised value during the financial year and the lower forward electricity market price curve for electricity, the fair value of Vales Point Power station has been lowered."
This comes as Mr St Baker criticised the landmark NSW renewable energy road map, which passed Parliament last Friday and aims to attract $32 billion of private investment in NSW infrastructure to build 12GW of renewable energy and 2GW of storage.
The road map – backed by the Australian Energy Market Operator – drew the ire of the federal government and industry but won cross-party support in Parliament despite 30 hours of obstructions by One Nation's Mark Latham, who referenced Mr St Baker's criticism that it would devalue coal-fired power plants.
The Vales Point power station near Lake Macquarie is a bit more than half the size of the Loy Yang A brown coal-fired plant, Australia's largest, in Victoria's La Trobe Valley and about the same as the Yallourn Power Station.
The 1320-megawatt plant – the backdrop for the film clip of the Midnight Oil hit US Forces – posted a 28 per cent net profit increase to $134.7 million from $535.1 million revenue. In the previous year it earned $96 million profit from $598.9 million revenue.
An annual dividend of $62 million was paid, compared with $30 million in the previous year.
Sunset Power’s balance sheet is carrying $331 million in net assets, including $55 million in cash.
The Vales Point coal-fired power generator is controversially earmarked for $8.7 million funding in the federal budget to upgrade the power station.
Nature Conservation Council Campaigns director Dr Brad Smith called for the federal government to abandon the grant, saying the company should not pocket taxpayer funds when it has posted a profit.
"It's outrageous that Delta electricity made a $141 million profit while seeking a handout from taxpayers of $8.7 million to maintain their ageing power station," Mr Smith said.
"Other coal power station owners have refurbished their turbines from their balance sheets. Only Trevor St Baker's company is seeking government handouts to refurbish its coal-fired power station.
"Every three months that the turbine refurbishment adds to the life of the power station will cause 1 million additional tonnes of climate pollution."
The Nature Conservation Council welcomes the passage of the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Bill through NSW Parliament this afternoon with cross-party support after a marathon 32-hour sitting of the upper house.
The bill will ensure about 60 wind and solar farms are built over the next 10 years, creating 9,000 jobs and stimulating $32 billion in private investment. These projects will prevent the emission of 90 million tonnes of climate pollution.
“The passage of this bill shows that all sides of politics agree we must get on with building the clean-energy future our state needs,” NCC Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“This law is proof that NSW can act on climate change at the same time as creating jobs and reducing power bills.”
The NSW Electricity Infrastructure Investment Bill will accelerate the construction of transmission lines to regional NSW and support the development of new solar, wind and pumped-hydro projects.
“Everyone in NSW has skin in this game,” Mr Gambian said. “Last bushfire season showed we are now on the front line of climate change impacts, and scientists have warned that if we don’t immediately cut climate pollution, fire seasons will get much worse.
“This law will see about 60 new solar and wind farms constructed across the state, more than quadrupling clean-energy generation.”
The Liberal Party, ALP, the Nationals, the Greens, Christian Democrats, Animal Justice Party and independent MPs supported the bill. Only Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party opposed.
“Global heating is a massive global crisis,” Mr Gambian said. “This plan demonstrates that we can find pathways through this crisis that help modernise and strengthen our economy.”
The Nature Conservation Council welcomes today’s NSW Government Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap as a crucial step towards making NSW a low-carbon economy.
“This plan is a step-change in ambition on clean energy,” said NCC Chief Executive Chris Gambian..
“It represents serious action on climate change in a way that will also create jobs and bring down power prices.
The NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap announced today will accelerate the construction of transmission lines to regional NSW and support the development of new solar, wind and pumped-hydro projects.
It will ensure about 60 wind and solar farms are built over the next 10 years, create 9,000 jobs, stimulatE $32 billion in private investment, and prevent the emission of 90 million tonnes.
“Everyone in NSW has skin in this game,” Mr Gambian said. “Last bushfire season proved yet again we are on the front line of climate change impacts and scientists have warned that if we don’t immediately cut climate pollution fire seasons will get much worse.
“The plan will see about 60 new solar and wind farms start generating across the state, more than quadrupling clean energy generation.
“Global heating is a massive global crisis. This plan demonstrates that we can find pathways through this crisis that help modernise and strengthen our economy.
“While the Morrison government is absent on climate action, thank goodness their Coalition colleagues in NSW are willing to step up to the challenge of cutting climate pollution while growing the economy.”
The International Energy Agency (IEA) overnight sounded the death knell for global coal demand and yet there is still no credible plan for diversifying regional economies of Lithgow and the Hunter. 
“The people of Lithgow and the Hunter region are being let down by political leaders who have failed to prepare for the inevitable changes facing their community,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“The International Energy Agency yesterday forecasted the steady decline in coal demand over the next 10 to 20 years.
“It has warned coal-fired power will decline to less than 20 per cent of the world's energy by 2040, virtually spelling the end of the coal era.”
IEA chief Faith Birol said: Solar PV is now consistently cheaper than new coal- or gas-fired power plants in most countries, and solar projects now offer some of the lowest cost electricity ever seen. 
“There are huge opportunities beyond coal for the Hunter and Lithgow regions, but they will require investment by the government and business.
“These regions can’t reach its post-coal potential alone - it needs substantial support from the state and federal governments. That support is conspicuously lacking.
“Change in our energy systems is gathering pace so coal communities need government help to get on board or they will be left behind.
“Germany has created a 40 billion euro fund to help its coal communities develop new economic opportunities.
“We need something similar to ensure our communities don’t suffer because of the rapid international shift away from coal.
“We call on the NSW government to set aside a substantial fund, with billions of dollars to ensure no worker is left high and dry and that coal mining regions will have sufficient resources to adapt economically.”
 International Energy Agency: coal has surrendered to solar, SMH, 14-10-20
 International Energy Agency Press Release, 13-10-20
Media contact: James Tremain | 0419 272 254
The Federal Government has included an undisclosed sum in the 2020-21 budget to help coal baron and Coalition donor Trevor St Baker maintain the Vales Point coal-fired power station. 
“Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s $213 billion dollar deficit this year pales in comparison to the climate debt he is leaving for future generations by backing coal and gas,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“The federal government has no business funding a privately-owned coal-fired power station.
“Bushfires and heatwaves are already becoming more deadly and subsidising an old coal-fired power station is just throwing fuel on the fire.”
Mr St Baker, the owner of Vales Point coal-fired power station on the Central Coast applied for taxpayer subsidies under the federal government’s Underwriting New Generation Investments Program.
“The government should have a plan for the orderly closure of coal-fired power stations and their replacement with clean energy,” Mr Gambian said.
“Subsidising coal power simply scares off investors in clean power sources like solar and wind backed-up with batteries.”
Mr St Baker has a record of gaining from government decisions. He bought Vales Point power station from the NSW Government for $1 million in 2015 and made $113 million in profit on the deal in 2017-18. 
Mr St Baker is a regular political donor and a former National Party electoral candidate.
 Budget Paper 2, page 117, 2020-21
 23-1-19, Newcastle Herald, The man who bought Vales Point power station from the NSW Government for a song has new plans for the site
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) says that the Independent Planning Commission’s (IPC) approval of Santos’ Narrabri gas project is a blow to nature in the state.
“Santos now has the green light to desecrate the Pilliga forest – turning it into an industrial gas field that will damage groundwater, carve up the forest and endanger koalas and other threatened species” said NCC Campaigns Director Dr Brad Smith.
“Never has a project in NSW seen such enormous public opposition at all levels – from the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians who fought to protect the enormous traditional significance of the Pilliga to the 404 people who appeared at a record 7 days of public hearings”
“The NSW Government has turned its back on traditional owners, farmers and local communities in North West NSW who are fighting to protect their water, land and livelihoods and stop this project wreaking havoc on our climate.”
“Government and planning authorities must stop supporting gas projects that release millions of tonnes of potent climate pollution.”
“Existing coal and gas fields will push the world past globally agreed temperature goals. There is no room, or need, for more.”
“If the government wants to do something about gas, it should focus on electrification of Australian businesses and households with heat pumps for hot water, reverse-cycle air conditioning for space heating and induction cooktops.”
“Our economy can’t use dirty fuels any longer. Jobs and industries are already built on clean energy technology and NSW is getting left behind.”
“We call on the government to commit to ensuring the IPC’s conditions aren’t swept under the rug, and Santos actually comes up with a salt management plan and a compliant groundwater model before construction commences.