Thursday, 13 December 2012

Carnegie wins EPA green light
11 Dec 2012

Fremantle-based Carnegie Corporation Energy has won the race for Australia's first environmental approval of a wave energy project, but yesterday's green light from WA's watchdog has swung the spotlight on streamlined approvals for the renewable energy sector.

The Environmental Protection Authority announced that it had approved Carnegie Corporation's $31 million, 2 MW wave energy development for the Royal Australian Navy off Garden Island, without a full public review (PER). Carnegie Corporation is backed by prominent Perth investors, including John Poynton, Tim Roberts, Dale Alcock and Tim Holmes.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel told WestBusiness any perceptions that renewable energy projects were given favourable approval treatment was misplaced, and Carnegie Corporation's plan could be managed within existing maritime planning regulations. He also said the wave-power pioneer had done a mountain of work to reassure the EPA that there would be no damage to the environment.

"Each project is assessed on a case-by-case basis on their merits", he said. "Their environmental plan needed a bit of tweaking (such as how marine trenching might be rehabilitated),,, but they did a good job of front-end loading the process and addressing all of the issues".

However, Dr Vogel said the EPA was aware of growing angst in the community about wind farm developments, as in Victoria, and it would be issuing a bulletin next year to clarify its thinking on the issue. Dr Vogel said that while it had approved wind farms in the past without full PER's, as for other renewable energy projects, they still had to meet rigorous standards.*

Sustainable Energy Association adviser Ray Wills said renewable projects should have the same, not more, rigour applied to them as other projects and said industrial developments on the Kwinana strip were not assessed for low frequency sound impacts, as for wind proposals.

Carnegie Corporation chief executive Michael Ottaviano said the company's submerged power buoys had no visual impact, an environmental footprint no different to other buoys and its project had attracted marine life to the area. Its shares closed unchanged at $0.042

*In fact there is no "growing angst" regarding windfarm developments in Victoria, there is a small group of people attempting to portray that sentiment however and it is being exploited by the Victorian government.