Carr Unfazed by Predicted Charcoal Plant Backlash – ABC News

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ABC News 2 May 2002
Carr unfazed by predicted charcoal plant backlash
New South Wales Premier Bob Carr says he is not worried about a potential voter backlash over his Government’s approval of a controversial south coast charcoal plant.

Mr Carr was in Lithgow, west of Sydney, yesterday to announce approval for the development of the Mogo plant, to be located south of Batemans Bay, which was the last hurdle in plans for a $140 million silicon smelter at Lithgow.

The smelter and an $8 million quartz quarry at Cowra had already been granted approval.

The project is expected to create about 250 jobs during construction and 120 permanent positions.

Environmentalists had warned of pay-back at the ballot box if the Mogo plant was approved.

But Mr Carr says their concerns have been addressed in the approval conditions.

“The fact is the plant occupies a very small area, only occupying four hectares, that is the plant itself, it’s going to use waste timber and offcuts mainly from sustainable harvested forest and in the long-run from timber plantations,” he said.

Mr Carr says the Government is confident the approval could withstand any challenge in the Land and Environment Court.

Meanwhile, Cowra Council is worried the company behind the proposal, Australian Silicon, will not comply with approval conditions that it transport quartz by rail.

But the company’s chief executive, Peter Anderton, says the conditions allow the company to use road if rail is found to be uneconomic.

“We are committed as a company to use the most commercial outcome and the most commercial outcome at this time from Cowra appears to be road,” he said.

“The most commercial outcome from Lithgow to the coast for silicon metal appears to be rail.”

Australian Silicon hopes to start construction of the smelter, near the Wallerawang Power Station, north of Lithgow, by the end of the year.

Mr Anderton says the Mogo approval is an important step in allowing that to happen.

“It enables us now to go forward with the documentation for project finance and putting in project finance for the total integrated project.”

© 2002 ABC
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