Palmer power station "may not be in the public interest”, says Environment Department

Clive Palmer’s controversial plan for a massive new coal-fired power station in central Queensland may face fresh challenges, with the state’s Department of Environment and Science concerned that the project approval "may not be in the public interest”.

The preliminary position, revealed in an unprecedented exposure of company documents relating to the proposed project, is the first time the Department of Environment has published such a statement regarding a coal project.

The Department’s finding in relation to the 1400 megawatt power station was disclosed in submissions from Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal to the State Assessment and Referral Agency.

The documents also disclose that the Department of Environment found the project may be "inconsistent with public commitments made by the Queensland Government.”

The Government will soon seek public submissions on the controversial project after it was called in by the Deputy Premier last November.

Queensland Conservation Council Director Dave Copeman said: 

"It is hard to see how the government can allow this project to go ahead when its own Department of Environment says it is against the public interest and is inconsistent with their public commitments.

"The Queensland Government has the opportunity to take the Department’s concerns seriously and should pull the plug on this damaging, wasteful project.

“Waratah Coal’s power station proposal does not stack up environmentally or economically and there has been no appetite for it from the grid or the community.

“At a time when Queensland is moving towards net zero emissions, Waratah is proposing a brand new project that would burn 4 million tonnes of coal a year for the next 30 - 50 years.  

“Queensland just can’t afford the cost of Waratah’s additional 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year to the state’s already huge emissions bill.

“Waratah’s emission reduction claims are illogical and rely on expensive and unproven carbon capture and storage, while its reliance on offset credits is hugely problematic and costly. 

“Economically, its business case is a dog’s breakfast which relies on non-existent or stalled mines as its primary customers.  

“Waratah’s price projections are also questionable, with its $90 - $110 per MwH figures dependent on selling it as a “carbon neutral” product in turn reliant on extensive offsets and unproven carbon capture and storage.

“In any case, renewable energy firmed by storage and transmission remains consistently cheaper at $50 - $70 per Mwh, and produces reliable zero emission electricity. Just weeks ago Barcaldine made steps toward becoming a renewable energy zone which would be undermined by a new coal power project. 

“Waratah has also failed to adequately plan for the water usage associated with this project, with a risk that it may need to draw from the Barcaldine water supply.

“The Department of Environment and Science is 100% correct to be concerned. This project is not in the public interest, it goes against public commitments made by the Palaszczuk Government, and the Deputy Premier should stop it progressing any further.”

Media contact: Dave Copeman 0408 841 595 [email protected] 

Image: Doongmabulla springs, Galilee Basin. Credit: Tom Jefferson