Friends of the Earth released the statement below on October 25.
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Today’s announcement that coalmining will be allowed to continue at Anglesea is possibly the worst in a long list of bad environmental decisions since the Baillieu government was elected, according to Friends of the Earth.
The government says that the supporting legislation, introduced to parliament today, will “modernise” its agreement with the Anglesea coalmine and power station and support regional jobs.
Friends of the Earth campaigns coordinator Cam Walker said: “What the government fails to mention is that the Pt Henry smelter is not dependent on receiving energy from Anglesea to be viable. Alcoa could buy renewable energy to meet its needs and keep Pt Henry going.”
Alcoa began operating the mine in 1961 and indicated in 2008 that it would exercise its right to extend its lease another 50 years. Any future mine expansion will now be limited to 3% of its total lease area, which is 7,145 hectares, and be subject to a new environmental process.
“While the government can say that Alcoa had the right to extend its agreement, the fact remains that the coal resource is the property of the state, not the corporation,” Walker said.
“The Energy and Resources Minister, Mr O’Brien, says that the revised agreement is a ‘win-win’ outcome. But who wins? Alcoa, who gets to continue to burn dirty, high sulphur coal.
“Who loses? The community of Anglesea, who will have to bear decades of public health impacts. The environment loses, as climate pollution will continue. The highly significant coastal heath lands will continue to be negatively impacted.
“The time for further investment in dirty coal is over. The Baillieu government has yet again missed a significant opportunity to begin the transition to sustainable energy.
“A giant corporation has won out against the long term interests of the local community. This is the same pattern we see at Bacchus Marsh and elsewhere, where landowners have no control over proposals for new coal and CSG operations.
“The government could have had the courage to oppose this extension.”