On the weekend, the National Party leader Peter Ryan reasserted the Napthine Government’s plan to allocate another 13 billion tonnes of brown coal in the Latrobe Valley. The areas include Maryvale to the west of Tyers, Yinnar, Traralgon Creek, Churchill, Flynn, Gormandale and Rosedale. It is easy to see that he does not live here. It may be timely to remind him of a few things we know about these operations.
- Open-cut mining leaves giant non-productive holes in the ground. The Morwell and Yallourn open cuts are totally devoid of wealth generation far into the future. Where maybe 40 rate-paying farms could be supporting Morwell businesses and providing employment, there is nothing. People cannot live there nor can tree plantations exist. If coal mining provided so many jobs, why has Morwell got one of the highest unemployment rates and the lowest house prices in Victoria. Proposing more of the problem to fix unemployment is non-sensical.
- 13 billion tonnes of coal when burnt will produce about 35 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas – not an insignificant amount when we really need to be lowering the CO2 content of the atmosphere.
- Exposing more coal areas to the atmosphere will magnify the danger of further catastrophic coal fires.
- The rest of the world is moving away from coal use and we could be left with ugly stranded assets further devaluing the landscape
- Because of automation and super-sized machinery, relatively few permanent jobs will be created.
- The destruction of fertile farm land will diminish the number of jobs available in agriculture and also in tourism.
- Already some people are leaving the Vallley because of the worry of the health effects from the coal mines and power station emissions. More mines will further erode health.
- The Latrobe River is already severely impacted from mines. The Gippsland Lakes, especially the Lake Wellington end cannot sustain much more environmental damage from sustained high water levels inflated with coal mine water and sediment.
- We do not need the coal for electricity. At the moment, we have an excess of generation capacity. The only use of this new coal will be for export – probably from Geelong. Is this why the Government won’t release their business model for the East West link? (Where are the Committee for Gippsland when you need them?)
- People will not accept operations such as these that devastate the area and are impossible to effectively rehabilitate.
But what is Labor’s position? Peter Batchelor was the Labor Governments Energy minister who devised the plan to advertise world wide for offers to develop this unallocated coal. Will they too fall into the lazy politics of the Napthine Government and see this area as only fit to dig up and ship out to China or will they stand with the Greens in protecting our valuable farmlands and citizens from last Century style destruction. The Greens have consistently said no to any new coal developments anywhere in Victoria. There are now much better ways to provide for our needs.
Dan Caffrey, Greens Candidate for Morwell.
For further information on the allocation of coal:
Other things Daniel has written about coal and the Latrobe Valley: