Our Melbourne Environment team recently acted for the Environment Protection Authority Victoria in a high profile, complex and intensely contested climate change case in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
In May 2011, the EPA granted Dual Gas Pty Ltd a works approval for the construction of a 300MW demonstration power plant incorporating new coal gasification technology. Dual Gas appealed the EPA’s decision as it had originally sought approval for a 600MW plant. Three environment groups and one individual also appealed the decision, arguing that the works approval application should have been refused altogether, based on the plant’s estimated greenhouse gas emissions and other impacts.
The case ran at VCAT for 22 days between October 2011 and February 2012 and was ground breaking in a number of respects. It is the first case in which the Tribunal must apply Victoria’s Climate Change Act and will demonstrate how the Tribunal sees the principles of environment protection (including the precautionary principle) operating in a climate change context. It also sparked intense debate about the meaning of ‘best practice’ in an industry with a diverse resource base and whether it meant excluding any coal-based generation in favour of electricity generation from renewable energy sources. Another issue debated at length was whether a ‘greenhouse gas emissions intensity’ standard should be imposed on new electricity generation facilities and how such a standard should be measured.
A decision is expected in late March.
The EPA’s key arguments as contained in its closing submissions were reported in Carbon + Environment Daily, a leading environment and climate change news service.
Click 'Download' to read the full Carbon + Environment Daily article.
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