Australian news, and some related international items

Mount Emerald Wind Farm reaches major construction milestone

The 800-tonne foundation which is buried to ground level provides an immovable anchor for each turbine and consists of a 50-tonne reinforced steel cage filled with around 350m3 tonnes of concrete, or up to 70 truckloads.

Ratch Australia Corporation Executive General Manager Business Development, Mr Anthony Yeates, said the first foundation was always a special milestone in wind farm construction. Continue reading

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

Adani fined $12,000 for Abbot Point coal terminal stormwater breach

 The Age, Jorge Branco , 11 Aug 17,  Indian mining giant Adani has been fined $12,000 for a stormwater breach at its Abbot Point coal terminal during Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

The Adani-owned Abbot Point Bulk Coal was granted a temporary licence to more than triple its “suspended solids” releases during the severe weather in March. But the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection claimed more than eight times that amount was released into the ocean near the north Queensland facility.

The fine did not relate to water released into the surrounding wetlands, which was still under investigation. Activists released striking photos of the difference in the wetlands before and after the cyclone, claiming coal had turned the area black, but Adani said it had complied with the conditions of its licence.

 The breach related to stormwater released on the other side of the facility, into the ocean.At the time, a company spokesman said no spill had made its way into the sea and the Queensland Resources Council said “water absorbs light so it is usually black in the images”.

According to the Environment Department, the Temporary Emissions Licence allowed Abbot Point Bulk Coal to release stormwater with a suspended solid limit of 100mg per litre during the high rainfall.

But on April 6, the company informed the department it had breached the conditions with the release of stormwater containing 806mg/L of suspended solids, the department said…….

Mackay Conservation Group co-ordinator Peter McCallum criticised the fine, saying it would encourage future harm rather than deter it.

“Adani is likely to make a business decision that it is cheaper to pollute the Caley Valley wetlands and the waters of the Great Barrier Reef than to put in place infrastructure that will ensure the sensitive environments at Abbot Point are never damaged again,” said the man, whose organisation released the before and after photos of the wetlands.

“Without sufficient penalties for breaching environmental conditions there’s little point in having them.”…….

The company has proposed a $3 billion expansion of the Abbot Point terminal to service its massive Carmichael mine plans in the Galilee Basin.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | environment, legal, Queensland | Leave a comment

Sunshine Coast church communities unite in concern about climate change

Why Sunshine Coast church groups fear climate change, Bill Hoffman | 8th Aug 2017 CONCERN for the welfare of future generations and protection of the environment were the principal concerns that drove more than 1000 people of faith on the Sunshine Coast to sign a petition calling on the Federal Government to do more to address the looming impact of climate change.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Wandoan solar farm – Australia’s largest, planned for the middle of Queensland’s gas country

Equis plans 1,000MW solar farm in heart of Queensland’s gas country, REneweconomy By Giles Parkinson on 7 August 2017 Singapore-based renewable energy developer Equis Energy has announced plans to build a 1,000MW solar farm – which would be Australia’s largest – in the heart of Queensland’s coal and gas region in the Surat Basin.

The Wandoan solar farm, to be built near the town of the same name, adds considerably to the huge pipeline of wind and solar projects in Queensland, which now stands at more than 4,000MW.

Wandoan won approval from the Western Downs Council late last week and will begin construction when the first of several negotiations on off-take agreements is complete.

The $1.5 billion project is expected to be built in stages, and Equis could go bigger – this plant is likely to cover 1,400 hectares but is has more than 5000 hectares available.

Equis is taking advantage of existing infrastructure, including new transmission assets, which has been built to support the gas industry. Demand for energy is highest in the region because of the gas export industry.

Equis is also planning to build the 127MW Tailem Bend solar project in South Australia, to be built near a 28M diesel plant owned by Snowy Hydro.

That solar farm will begin construction when negotiations for contracts are concluded, and Equis also has an interest in the 150MW Collinsville north solar farm, where PPAs are also under construction, and other projects in the pipeline in South Australia and NSW.

All project are considered to be “battery storage ready”…….

The Wandoan project will include 3 million solar PV panels and generate 1.8 million MWh of electricity a year, equivalent to the annual needs of around 255,000 homes.

August 7, 2017 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Did Queensland Resources Council urge Great Barrier Reef experts to ignore climate change?

Queensland Resources Council denies urging Great Barrier Reef experts to ignore climate change, ABC, By Louisa Rebgetz, 2 Aug 17, The mining industry’s lobby group urged key advisors on the Great Barrier Reef not to consider climate change in the Reef 2050 plan, according to documents.

However, the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) said its position on climate change had been misrepresented in the notes, taken at Reef Advisory Committee (RAC) meetings in May this year.

The RAC’s role is to advise marine park authorities on ways to address risks to the reef and to assist with policy development.

The ABC has obtained an earlier copy of two reports by the Reef 2050 Independent Expert Panel and the RAC from meetings to advise on responding to mass coral bleaching events on the reef.

Committee members expressed the view both the Australian and Queensland Government’s position on coal extraction was “not consistent with its position on protecting the Great Barrier Reef” and stated the Adani’s Carmichael coal mine “should not proceed”.

The documents contained notes detailing the QRC’s position and stated the QRC did not support the committee making statements regarding climate change.

According to the notes, the QRC argued there was no direct scientific link between coal mining and climate change.

“NOTE — Queensland Resources Council believes that the Reef 2050 Plan should continue to focus on actions to support coral resilience but should not deal with direct action to address climate change,”…….

August 7, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Great Barrier Reef’s great value as a coastal defence

As a coastal defence, the Great Barrier Reef’s value to communities goes way beyond tourism Gibbs
Director, Knowledge to Innovation; Chair, Green Cross Australia, Queensland University of TechnologyAugust 4, 2017 Rising sea levels are widely recognised as a threat to coastal communitiesworldwide. In Australia, the Climate Council estimates that at least A$226 billion of assets and infrastructure will be exposed to inundation if sea levels rise by 1.1 metres. Another report recommended that global mean sea level rise of up to 2.7 metres this century should be considered in planning processes.

The Queensland state government has commissioned the QCoast2100 program. This program aims to help with the development of coastal climate adaptation plans for Queensland communities exposed to sea-level rise.

Although the largest population centres in Queensland are in the state’s southeast, several of the most populous regional centres in Australia are located along the Great Barrier Reef coastline between Gladstone and Cape York. These include Townsville, Cairns, Gladstone, Mackay and Port Douglas.

A major task in developing coastal adaptation plans under the QCoast2100 program is to model inundation from a range of scenarios for sea-level rises and assess how assets will be inundated in the future. However, another threat is on the horizon.

How urban centres are protected

Urban centres along the reef’s coastline, which forms the majority of the Queensland coast, are protected from major ocean storms by natural deposits of coastal sediments. These include dunes and associated vegetation such as coastal forests, wetlands and mangrove systems.

These natural features continue to exist largely because the Great Barrier Reef’s outer reefs dampen incoming ocean waves. Although exposed to the occasional cyclone – which can lead to short-term erosion at specific locations – much of the coastal zone inside the reef is slowly growing out into the sea.

This increasing buffer zone can form a natural barrier to coastal recession.

recently released report estimated the total economic, social and icon asset value of the Great Barrier Reef at A$56 billion. By design, this report did not include many of the ecosystem services the reef provides. One of these is its role in reducing the energy of waves that impact the coastline behind the reef.

However, an earlier assessment of the total economic value of ecosystem services delivered by the reef estimated the present coastal protection benefit is worth at least A$10 billion.

Despite the inherent uncertainties in such assessments, it is clear the reef acts to reduce incoming wave energy and its impacts on cities and towns along much of the Queensland coastline. The total economic value of these benefits is in the billions of dollars.

What role is bleaching playing?

The Great Barrier Reef’s ability to keep protecting the Queensland shoreline, and communities living along it, depends upon the ability of individual reefs in the system to grow vertically to “keep up” with rising sea level.

The jury is still out on whether the outer reefs will be able to keep up with predicted rises. This is an active area of research.

However, it is clear reefs that are extensively affected by coral bleaching will struggle to maintain the essential processes required for productive reef-building. Many reefs are now experiencing net erosion.

Predictions of ocean warming suggest that bleaching events will become even more common in coming decades. Increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are also making the oceans more acidic, which makes it more difficult for organisms such as corals to maintain their skeletons, which are made of calcium carbonate. This mineral dissolves more rapidly with increasing acidification, reducing the reef’s capacity to recover from storm damage and coral bleaching.

Therefore, as bleaching events and acidification continue, the outer reefs that protect the Queensland coast from ocean waves will increasingly struggle to perform this function.

In turn, over time the Queensland coast will potentially suffer from more coastal erosion, which may increase the vulnerability of coastal infrastructure. This effect, combined with rising sea levels leading to more coastal inundation events, multiples the risks to coastal settlements and infrastructure.

August 5, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Labor state conference dumps Barron River branch anti-Adani motion at last minute

Chris Calcino, The Cairns PostJuly 29, 2017   AN anti-Adani motion from members of Labor’s Barron River branch has been scrapped before the party’s State Conference today.

Barron River was among three branches calling for Labor to pull support for the Carmichael coal mine whose motions were abandoned after a meeting of Labor’s agenda committee on Wednesday……

July 29, 2017 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Quietly, nuclear -powered USS Ronald Reagan to Brisabane to join massive Talisman military exercise

Nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan heads into Brisbane, Warwick Daily News Jodie Munro O’Brien, The Courier-Mail | 22nd Jul 2017 “….The USS Ronald Reagan, named after America’s 40th president, was commissioned in July 2003 and has been based in Yokosuka, Japan since late 2015.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Queensland, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Queensland Liberal National Party refuses to pull out of Paris Climate Accord

LNP members vote down call to pull out of Paris Climate Accord at Queensland convention, ABC News By Chris O’Brien, 16 July, Queensland Liberal National Party members have steered away from a potentially divisive move against Australia’s global climate position, while the party leader also vowed not to be distracted by federal squabbles in the lead up to the next election.

The party’s annual convention voted down a motion calling on the Commonwealth to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, after two former presidents warned against undermining the Prime Minister.

“This motion is really about just putting the knife into the Federal Government,” immediate past president Bruce McIver said.

“They’ve agreed on it on our behalf, and I think if we don’t believe we should vote this down today, we are doing them an injustice.”………

July 17, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, and the ACT defy Turnbull, will “go it alone” on Clean Energy Target

States harden threat to got it alone on clean energy target, THE AUSTRALIAN, 15 July 17  ROSIE LEWIS, Reporter, Canberra @rosieslewis and SID MAHER, NSW Editor, Sydney@sidmaher

Labor states have ramped up pressure on the Turnbull government to adopt a clean energy target but refused to lift bans on gas exploration, triggering warnings from industry leaders that time was running out for a national ­approach to lowering electricity costs and securing supply.

A crucial meeting of the ­nation’s state and federal energy ministers yesterday signed 49 of the 50 recommendations handed down by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, but Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT stuck to their threat to “go it alone” on a target and moved to “immediately develop and ­de­sign” options for implementing the mechanism………

The Australian Energy Council, representing major gas and electricity businesses, said brokering a national and bipartisan CET was fundamental to overcoming the energy crisis.

“Successful reform and lower energy bills will only come from bipartisan support and national implementation. Investment behind this reform will run for decades, so we need to find broad and enduring agreement to give it the confidence to proceed.’’

Key Finkel recommendations agreed to at the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council meeting in Brisbane include an obligation on intermittent sources of generation such as wind and solar to provide appropriate levels of backup power to guard against blackouts; a requirement for large generators to give at least three years’ notice before closing; and the establishment of an energy security board to scrutinise the National Electricity Market’s health, security and reliability.

The states also backed the federal government’s decision to abolish the Limited Merits Review — a tool the government says has been used by power companies to increase electricity ­prices — and accelerate the timetable for gas pipelines reform.

The price and availability of long-term electricity retail contracts will be published so big consumers can understand the market they are competing in.

Grattan Institute energy director Tony Wood said the only factors likely to drive any easing of prices were a decision by the Queensland government to order its generators to lower their ­returns, and the final commissioning of the Gladstone LNG export facilities, which could see more gas made available for domestic use and ease gas prices……

The Australian Pipelines and Gas Association was dismayed that energy ministers had brought forward reforms to pipeline operations by a month. Information disclosure and arbitration rules will now begin on August 1.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | ACT, energy, politics, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria | Leave a comment

Queensland Liberal National Party confirms its status as the Party For Fossil Fools

Queensland LNP pledges to promote coal and ‘resist environmental groups’
Proposals before LNP state convention include pulling out of Paris climate agreement and banning migrants from nations that recognise sharia,
Guardian, Joshua Robertson, 14 July 17, Queensland’s Liberal National Party has resolved to use its next stint in state government to push for the promotion of coal mining and “fully resist environmental groups” that stand in the way.

The pro-coal vow was one of the opening resolutions of an LNP state convention set to rule on up to 77 rank and file proposals for new policy, including calling on the federal government to echo Donald Trump’s US administration by pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.

mixed agenda from the three-day event also includes calls to ban immigration from nations that recognise sharia, privatise the ABC, and condemn public spending on “altering traffic lights for ideological purposes”.

One proposed resolution calls on the federal government to ensure Adani’s corporate structure makes its tax liability similar to Australian companies before it is given any loan through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

That proposal is from the LNP’s Moggill branch, in Brisbane’s leafy, well-heeled western suburbs.

 Moira Williams, from the activist group Stop Adani Brisbane, said this showed “that the grassroots of the LNP are concerned about Adani’s reliance on tax havens, and they know that lending $1 billion of taxpayers’ money to this company is a risk for the taxpayer”.

“That the Adani Group has a complex network of companies that extends to a global tax haven, the Cayman Islands, is no secret. It is no wonder that the LNP membership are concerned about the potential for Adani to receive significant public funds from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.”

The first vote of the convention on Friday backed a resolution from the rural Burnett branch to call for “Get Up and other blatantly political organisations” to register as third parties with electoral authorities to enable scrutiny of funding sources, advertising and political activities.

The convention, which sets official party policy for consideration but is not binding on the LNP parliamentary arm, is the last before a Queensland election due by May 2018.

A proposal from the Groom branch near Toowoomba called on the federal government to “pull out of the Paris Climate Accord as it weakens Australia’s sovereignty and economy without helping the environment in any measurable way”.

The Queensland environment minister, Steven Miles, said the fact the LNP was debating a withdrawal from the “historic Paris climate treaty … underlined the differences between Labor and the LNP on climate policy”.

“In the very same week as Queensland Labor announces we will decarbonise Queensland’s economy in line with the treaty, the LNP wants to pull out of it,” he told Guardian Australia.

“This explains [opposition leader] Tim Nicholls’ hysterical response to our policy. He’s hopelessly beholden to a backward looking party base. Increasingly the LNP is the party of fossil fuels, while Labor accepts the need to transition our economy and is taking steps to do so.”……

July 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Queensland government would welcome an Elon Musk renewable energy storage project

Queensland’s door would be open to Elon Musk: Trad, The Age, Felicity Caldwell, 13 July 17, Queensland’s door would be open to billionaire Elon Musk if he wanted to talk about a project in the Sunshine State, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said following a leaders’ roundtable featuring former US vice president and climate change activist Al Gore.

Last week, South Australia announced Mr Musk’s Tesla company as the principal builder of the world’s largest lithium ion battery to expand the state’s renewable energy supply.

Mr Musk has promised to have the SA system installed and operating within 100 days, otherwise it will be free.

Ms Trad said Queensland would say yes to Mr Musk if he wanted to turn his attention to the state once the South Australian battery was built. “The door would be absolutely open,” she said.

 Ms Trad said Queensland had already released an expression of interest process for a major solar battery manufacturing facility for Townsville…….

Would she hope Mr Musk might come knocking and set up a facility in Townsville?

“I think that would be incredibly exciting for Townsville and for Queensland as a whole,” she said.

On July 11, the Queensland government announced its plan for zero net emissions by 2050 and reducing emissions by 30 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.  Ms Trad spoke to Fairfax Media from Melbourne, where Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory have signed a “leadership declaration” at a roundtable attended by Mr Gore, who narrowly lost the 2000 US presidential election……

Australia’s states and ACT have agreed to work together to meet obligations under the Paris Agreement, a zero net carbon emissions by 2050 policy and to share information on their successes.

“We want to share innovation, understanding and learning in this space so that as a nation we can move towards what we committed to do and that is to do our bit, to reduce our emissions and keep global temperatures below an increase of 2 degrees,” Ms Trad said.

“We know that this [the Paris Agreement] is a big challenge, we know this is something that Australia signed up for.

“But what we also know is that the Turnbull government has failed to show the necessary leadership for us to move in that direction.”……

July 14, 2017 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

No plans for real development of Adani coal mine expansion. Adani family will benefit most, if it happens

Adani’s Carmichael coal mine has slow ‘official start’ planned, leaked document shows, ABC News,  by Stephen Long , 9 Jul 17 Flanked by Commonwealth and Queensland politicians, the giant Indian conglomerate Adani last month announced that its board had given final investment approval to its controversial mega-mine in North Queensland, and declared the “official start” of the Carmichael coal mining project.

But what does that mean in practice? For the moment, it seems, not much.

The ABC has obtained the plan of operations for the Carmichael coal mine project submitted to the Queensland Government last month.

It covers just six months and involves next to nothing: just re-establishing signage at the site, recommissioning an existing temporary camp and installing some additional demountable buildings.

“The plan of operations will be amended in due course to include all early works related to commencement of construction activities for the mine and related infrastructure works,” it says.

The lack of a substantive plan for development of the mine “is a huge embarrassment for the Adani cheer squad including the Prime Minister, the Premier of Queensland and [Minister for Resources and Northern Australia] Matt Canavan, who have bent over backwards to get this project over the line,” said Rick Humphries, co-ordinator of the mine rehabilitation campaign for the Lock the Gate Alliance — a group established by farmers to fight “inappropriate” coal and gas mining.

“It only really commits Adani to maintaining the existing temporary camp and looking after the signs and roads,” he said.

“It raises serious doubts about the project’s financial viability……..

Adani’s mine project, if it were to proceed to full scale, would be the largest-ever coal mining development in Australia and the biggest export coal project in the world, involving a series of open cut mines and underground pit with a capacity of 60 million tonnes a year.

Adani would also have to build an additional port at the Abbot Point Coal Terminal — which it owns — to accommodate output from the mine, though there has been speculation that Adani intends to scale down the mining venture to less than half the initial planned capacity.

Despite the question marks about Adani’s ability to finance the venture there are clear incentives for the Adani family to make the project happen.

An “overarching royalty deed” at the project will see $2 from each tonne of coal mined beyond the first 400,000 tonnes each year go a private company ultimately owned by an Adani family entity registered in the Cayman Islands.

This could potentially mean that hundreds of millions, or billions of dollars, from the venture could flow to the Adani family rather than to shareholders of the publicly-listed company that owns the Carmichael mine.

The ABC has also been told that the response of Adani’s billionaire chairman Gautam Adani to years of activism and opposition to the mine in Australia is a determination to see the project realised.

July 9, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

A farmer deplores the planned giveaway of precious water to Adani coal mine project

Adani Carmichael mine: Water is too important for farmers to risk wasting it on a mine, ABC News, 6 Jul 17  By Robert Quirk, I’m no activist. I’m a farmer, and as a farmer I’m against the Adani coal mine for one reason: water.

My sugar cane farm is on the flood plains of northern NSW. Many of my friends and colleagues are in the industry located all over Queensland.

All farmers, no matter what the crop, or livestock, rely on water. Sugar cane requires about 1300 millimetres of well-spread rain to grow a crop. You might manage, with good irrigation, on 600-700mm. Too much in the form of a flood and you might end up with a damaged crop.

In a good year, everything you need falls from the sky, at the right time, in the right amount. Of course, not every year is a good year. In fact, good years are rare and that’s why farmers manage risk with irrigation. You store the water for use later with dams and the like, you try to use it efficiently and sometimes you need to extract it from underground, or truck it in.

It’s all pretty basic stuff, so it’s truly bowled me over to learn the detail of the Adani mine in relation to water.

Two sets of rules

Many farmers in Queensland have licences to draw their water from the Great Artesian Basin. The same basin that the Carmichael mine, once in operation, also plans to draw massive amounts of water from.

How much you ask? Good question. As much as the owners please, because the Queensland Government has granted this company unlimited access to extract groundwater…….

Those in favour of the mine are right about one thing — it is a really good deal. It’s just not a good deal for the Australian people……

July 8, 2017 Posted by | environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

Farmers for Climate Action gathering huge support in their fight against Adani coal mine expansion

Farmers join fight against Adani coalmine over environmental concerns  More than 2,000 farmers and agriculture leaders express concern proposed Carmichael coalmine could affect groundwater, biodiversity and climate change, Guardian, Michael Slezak, 30 June 17, A group of Australian farmers have joined the large coalition of groups fighting against Adani’s giant Carmichael coalmine, after they became concerned about the affects the mine would have on groundwater, biodiversity, rural communities and climate change.

Farmers for Climate Action – a group of more than 2,000 farmers and agriculture leaders concerned about climate change – became the newest group to join the Stop Adani alliance last week, at the same time as one of its members attracted more than 30,000 signatures to a petition calling on the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, to rescind her commitment to give Adani unlimited free access to groundwater used by farmers in the region.

Longreach farmer Angus Emmott launched the petition last week; a few days later he had an accident on his farm and had to be airlifted to hospital. When he checked on the number of signatures on Wednesday, he was shocked to see there were nearly 30,000……

“It’s too big a danger for the future,” Emmott said. “We need clean water. We need good soil. We need food security. And we have the potential to be a leader in renewable energy in Queensland. We don’t need to be reviving an outdated technology.”

Excited by the number of signatures, Emmott decided to try to get a meeting with Palaszczuk and deliver the petition in person. “The doc says I should take it easy after my accident, but as soon as I get the all-clear to travel I’ll fly to Brisbane to deliver the petition in person. I might bring a few other farmers with me too,” he said in an update posted on the petition website.

Emmott said it appeared a lot of farmers have signed the petition, as well as people in cities who share his concerns. He said he hopes to reach 50,000 signatures before he delivers the petition to Palaszczuk.

The Farmers for Climate Action chief executive, Verity Morgan-Schmidt, said the group had decided to join the Stop Adani alliance mainly because of impacts the proposal would have on groundwater, but also because of concerns about biodiversity, rural communities and the climate. The decision brought the number of groups in the Stop Adani alliance to 13.

“No one can tell us, with any confidence, what impact this project could have on water supplies from underground aquifers because there is no independent or government oversight, or trigger levels that would halt mining,” Morgan-Schmidt said…….

June 30, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, Queensland | Leave a comment