Premier Palaszczuk has unveiled a new $62 billion 10 year energy plan, which will make Queensland home to the world’s biggest pumped hydro scheme and end the state’s reliance on coal-power.
Queensland’s eight coal-fired power stations are to be shut down and transformed into “clean energy hubs” by 2035 – a decade earlier than expected. New legislation is also to be enacted committing Queenslanders to an 80 percent renewable energy target by 2035.
What neither the Premier or any of her Ministers mentioned, however, is that the proposed area of the project will mean the loss of parts of the Mackay-Eungella Road and the town of Netherdale. In other words, an entire regional town comprising 121 people, including 35 families, will have to be submerged to make way for the project.
Aside from the devastating human impact this will cause, the project also risks causing irreversible and long-term ecological damage to the region’s ecosystem. In 2017, scientists at the University of Hong Kong and James Cook University published a study on the environment effects of hydro energy in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution.
The authors found hydropower the most environmentally damaging of all the renewable energies they looked at, causing harm to wildlife and habitats, especially fish. William Laurance of James Cook University commented that: “Hydro projects are such a disaster for tropical rainforests that I don’t consider them ‘green’ energy at all”.
The problem is hydro involves diverting rivers through a set of turbines before feeding it back downriver. This poses a grave risk of the dam producing toxic methyl-mercury across the water system. Hydro dams form head ponds and can flood the soil and form low-oxygen, toxic environments. When exposed to these blooms, humans and animals may develop serious health issues including liver damage, rashes and gastrointestinal illness.
The Eungella Honeyeater is just one of many species at risk. It is one of the last new species of birds discovered in Australia. The birds eat underwater insects that can accumulate methyl-mercury and then biomagnify it all the way up the food chain. In terms of the economy, the $62 billion project will sink Queensland even further into debt. The Government claims the “modelling” supports the extra debt but as usual failed to provide any details of that modelling or the data it was based on.
The project hasn’t even had any engineering or environmental work done yet. As industry experts have pointed out, the project will be technically difficult. And with no engineering assessment, the estimated cost is little more than guesswork. You only have to look at the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project to know where this game is headed!
To add to this, the recent who har in Parliament recently concerning the $20 million/Year for a Tribal voice in QLD, the Yuwi people of this area were not consulted about this project, so add another $20 million/Year to this joke. It didn’t take long to turn their backs on Traditional Owner Groups….. about 4 Weeks.