About 200 people protested outside Victorian government offices on April 11 against a proposed new gas-fired power station in Victoria. Five protesters locked themselves to a stepladder inside the building.
The company HRL is planning to build its power station in Victoria, and the state and federal governments have committed $150 million towards it.
The rally came at the end of the National Grassroots Climate Summit in Melbourne. The protest called for funding to be put toward renewable energy instead.
According to the Stop HRL collective: "The proposed new 600MW HRL ‘Dual Gas’ power station is likely to receive works approval from the EPA sometime in the next few weeks. Despite relying on a mixture of synthetic gas (produced from coal) and natural gas, it nevertheless is still as dirty as a black coal-fired power station.
“Public money is being used to fund this project, with the primary financiers currently being the federal government ($100m) and the state government ($50m)," the website says.
In the next few weeks the Environment Protection Agency will rule on the project. A record 4000 plus people wrote to the EPA opposing the power station, but there is a strong chance it will be approved.
The 5 protesters inside the building eventually left in return for an offer to meet with the energy minister.
Protester Shaun Murray told the ABC on April 11: “He gave us absolutely no commitments and so this is the beginning of a campaign which we're going to win.”
The Stop HRL collective meets every Wednesday at Melbourne University and welcomes new members (Mary Cooke A room, level 2, Union House).
A statement on the group's website explains: “HRL Ltd is a private company that was formerly the research arm of the State Electricity Commission (SEC). It was privatised (along with everything else) in the Kennett era in the mid-90s. It has now submitted a ‘Works Approval’ application to the EPA for construction of the 600 megawatt “Dual Gas Demonstration Project” in Morwell.
“Using a high-tech process to dry and convert brown coal to gas — thereby creating ‘syngas’ — and combine this with natural gas, HRL’s power station would nevertheless have the equivalent emissions of a coal-fired power station using black coal.
“It would increase Victoria’s annual emissions by up to 4.2 million tonnes of CO2 (about 3%, or equivalent to an extra 1 million cars on the road).
“There has also been no Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this project, and there are serious air and noise pollution concerns for the local community. The plant would put more dangerous pollutants into the air — including particulates and other contaminants known to cause cancer and to affect the lung development of children.
“The major components for the plant would be built in China and shipped to Australia, providing relatively few construction jobs and only 40 permanent jobs for local workers — a fraction of the jobs created by an equivalent renewable energy project.
“The power station would also suck two gigalitres of water annually from the already stressed and deteriorating Latrobe River and Gippsland Lakes.”
[For more information visit http://www.stophrl.org/ .]