EBAC General Manager Remediation, Barry Dungey and Coal Energy Australia General Manager Projects, Roland Davies, have responded to the decision by the Heritage Council to heritage list the old Morwell Power Station and Briquette Factories.
Statement from EBAC
EBAC General Manager Remediation, Barry Dungey, said he was comfortable with the recommendation of the Heritage Council to heritage list the Morwell Power Station and Briquette Factories but disappointed it had not also provided a recommendation to allow the demolition of the power station as requested.
Mr Dungey said the decision had the potential to put significant investment in the future of the site in jeopardy.
“We have the owner of the site wanting to remediate the site and make it safe into the future,” he said. “We have a private company, Coal Energy Australia, wishing to purchase the site and make a substantial investment into the local region which will bring with it approx. 80 full time positions. This substantial investment will only go ahead if demolition of the power station building is allowed.
“The power station contains the vast majority of all the asbestos on site and will become a health risk if it is not maintained correctly. Additionally as the structures deteriorate with age the cost and risks associated with asbestos removal increases.”
Mr Dungey said he had worked closely with the local museums over the past two years, giving them access to all material they wanted from the site. A significant amount of photography has also taken place to capture the history including the compilation of a 3D film.
“The past owners of the site deliberately created a remediation fund for the site that can only be used for site remediation purposes, it is disappointing that this forward looking decision which was aimed at minimising risks after site closure is now being delayed by the heritage process.”
EBAC now intends to submit a demolition permit to Heritage Victoria seeking approval to demolish the power station to ensure the site remained safe and to enable the planned site sale to Coal Energy Australia to progress.
“As a Latrobe Valley resident, I am concerned that we do not want this site to end up like the old Lurgi Gas site that sat abandoned for over 15 years before sufficient government funding could be found to allow its demolition,” he added.
“We have demolition plans in place and we are ready to commence this work so we should be allowed to progress as quickly and efficiently as possible, while capturing heritage value via more modern means. “
Statement from Coal Energy Australia
Coal Energy Australia is disappointed with yesterday’s decision to heritage list the old Morwell Power Station.
CEA General Manager Projects, Roland Davies, said CEA had entered into a lease agreement with the liquidator, PPB Advisory, administrators for HRL Ltd, the former owners of the Morwell Power Station and Briquette Factory. This agreement is for CEA to develop innovative brown coal and renewable based projects at the Morwell Briquette and Power Site, subject to demolition of the old power station.
“This agreement hinges on the demolition of the power station over a two-year period,” Mr Davies said. “Yesterday’s decision puts this project in jeopardy. This project is an investment of $60 million in the Latrobe Valley and will create around 80 local jobs.”
Mr Davies said the old power station was in a dilapidated condition with serious safety issues.
“We have spent more than $1 million to get to this point in our negotiations with PPB Advisory to lease the briquette factory, using local employment,” Mr Davies said. “We’ve waited four months for a decision from the Heritage Council which has delayed progress of the project. We believe our proposal to refurbish and reinstate the briquette factory is an excellent way of preserving the heritage.
“We’re talking about a project for the Valley in new energy technology which will be sustainable, creating investment and jobs.
“If the power station is not demolished, it will be extremely difficult to undertake our project because of safety issues associated with the power station structure and in particular, the extensive presence of asbestos.”