Qld could call in Palmer coal power plant – Katherine Times

Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles has the power to call in a controversial coal-fired power station proposed by Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal, according to conservationists.
Waratah, a subsidiary of Mr Palmer’s Mineralogy, has submitted a development application for a coal-fired power plant with Barcaldine Regional Council in central Queensland.
The Australian Conservation Foundation says the company took DA directly to the council to sidestep conventional approval processes for the $3.5 billion project.
The ACF says legal advice shows that the deputy premier has the power to call in the project to assess its impact on the state’s economic or environmental interests.
Saul Holt QC’s advice says that under state planning laws, Mr Miles has the power to intervene in the process.
“The minister has the power to call in the development application and to refuse it,” he wrote in the advice, seen by AAP.
“If called in and refused by the minister, there are limited avenues to challenge that decision.”
ACF spokesman Jason Liddith said it was wrong for a company to use local planning laws, designed for applications to build things like carports, for a coal-fired power plant.
He said if the Queensland government was serious about reducing emissions to fight climate change, it would call in Waratah’s development application.
“The Queensland government should be setting our state’s climate and energy policy – not Clive Palmer,” Mr Liddith told AAP.
“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.”
Barcaldine Mayor Sean Dillon told the ABC’s 7.30 program this week it was “virtually without precedent” for such a project to be left in the hands of a local council.
But he also denied the council was out of its depth, saying it had used contract town planners and had engaged with relevant state agencies.
Waratah Coal told AAP it had applied to the Barcaldine authorities for a “material change of use”.
“This is absolutely a normal process,” a spokesman said.
A Palaszczuk government spokesperson told AAP “there is no need for another coal fired power station in Queensland” as it already has a young fleet of coal-fired generators.
In a separate statement, the state development department said the council must wait for advice from the State Assessment and Referral Agency before making a decision on the plant.
The environment department is also assessing an application for environmental authority to build the plant, but any consultation relating to the social impact assessment will be a matter for the council.
The plant is proposed on a cattle station about 30km from the town of Alpha. It will be fed by four million tonnes of coal each year from another Waratah Coal proposal, the adjacent Galilee Coal Project.
The co-ordinator-general assessed the environmental impact statement for the mine and rail components of the Galilee Coal Project, and approved it in 2013.
But that assessment did not include a power station.
Documents obtained by 7.30 under right to information laws include a project overview written by Waratah Coal.
The overview said the plant would cost up to $3.5 billion, would produce electricity by 2024 at the earliest and will burn coal for 30 to 50 years, at a lower emissions intensity than Queensland’s existing coal stations.
Australian Associated Press
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