Department restructure: green light for dirty coal?

By Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth campaigns coordinator. 

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has today announced a major restructure of the public service, with major implications for environmental policy and which could give the green light to new coal projects.

Friends of the Earth fear that the newly formed Department of State Development, Business and Innovation (DSDBI), with its dedicated division focused on “facilitating significant projects which require a whole-of-government approach” is a veiled way of fast-tracking environmentally damaging developments.

Many Victorians were deeply disappointed by the anti-environmental direction taken by the government under the leadership of Ted Baillieu. Victorians care about their environment and don’t want environmental protection to fall victim to development.

In his media release announcing the restructure, the Premier said that bringing the Energy and Resources portfolio into DSDBI will enable a “sharper focus on major development opportunities such as Victoria’s coal resources”.

Any attempt to open up new coal resources will be deeply unpopular and be met with sustained opposition.

Expanding the coal industry made sense in the 1940s and 50s. With everything we know about climate change and the opportunities presented by renewable energy, it is madness to suggest any further development of coal in the 21st century.

Rather than concentrate on polluting coal and coal seam gas projects, the government could use the new development unit to expedite projects that harness renewable energy resources.

Wind energy has benefited Dr Napthine more than any other politician in the state.  Two-thirds of the state’s wind turbines are located in his electorate. Sadly he has refused to re-write the rules, while attempting to position himself as being pro renewables. As any politician knows, sitting on a fence rapidly becomes electorally uncomfortable.

There’s still time for Dr Napthine, who represents South Western Victoria, to take a different path. Friends of the Earth hopes he will commit to re-writing Victoria’s regressive wind planning policy (VC82).


Friends of the Earth petition gathers momentum!  

More than 1300 Victorians have signed a Friends of the Earth petition calling on Premier Napthine to re-write the government’s anti-wind farm laws and return balance to the planning system for renewable energy. You can sign our petition here and join them.

9 thoughts on “Department restructure: green light for dirty coal?

  1. This is in two parts. Why do FOE refuse to poll residents within 2kms of a proposed wind farm development? Answer because they know that the results will be the opposite to their 80per cent support that is shown in the wider community polls. Who are the true NIMBYs those that want turbines as long as it is not nearn them. Of course we need reliable electricity unless we use gas or nuclear we need to use coal.

  2. Peter, where do you get the claim that we ‘refuse to poll people within 2k’? We have never said such a thing.

    The old ‘NIMBY argument’ you use (put them in Melbourne) is old and tired, please get over it, you know that wind needs to be in places where the resource is suitable. I would (and have) happily lived near turbines and would love to have them within sight of my home, but we both know that thats not going to happen because the existing laws inherently push wind farms away from cities and towns…

    1. And rightly so as the only time you see opposition to wind farms is when they are sited too near someone’s home!

    1. Are you going to poll residents within 2km of a proposed turbine? After all these are the people directly affected. I will be interested to hear and see the results. I know that a resident survey in Pipers Creek that were within 2kms the result was 100 per cent opposition

      1. so, i’ll take that as another non-answer, shall I? Fairly true to form: make an unsubstantiated statement about us, yet refuse to actually respond when challenged…

  3. Cam by not doing a survey of those most impacted by the siting of wind farms you ensure that you get the answer you desire that the majority of people support wind energy. It is the same with the questions you ask. For example do you think we should replace dirty coal produced electricity with renewables of course most people would say yes.

  4. Late last year Origin cancelled their plans for a wind farm at Lexton.
    Had it gone ahead. I would have been within 1.5km of a turbine.
    I am on record on this site as being comfortable with that because I know there are no health issues associated with turbines.
    As a sample of only one, I don’t constitute a survey, so I feel disappointed that I don’t count statistically.
    I have a small turbine of my own but it is in the shed currently as it is too small to make a difference.
    I might put it back up anyway, just to make a political point!

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