GUNNEDAH Shire Council’s (GSC) successful motion to have Local Government NSW (LGNSW) lobby the state government to build a new coal power station has divided locals.
A Fairfax Media poll has shown that almost 58 per cent of 107 votes cast were against the notion of a new coal power station being built in NSW, while more than 35 per cent of voters were in favour of the idea.
The motion to build a new coal power station was put to council representatives from around NSW by GSC at the 2017 NSW Local Government Conference (LGC) earlier in December.
The motion passed at the conference by a margin of 197 to 126, and will now be brought to the state government by LGNSW for consideration.
Former New England Greens candidate and Quirindi farmer Peter Wills said building a new coal power station in NSW would be a “folly”.
“I think they (people wanting to build a coal power plant) are wasting their time and money, but good luck to them,” Mr Wills said.
Regional energy expert Adam Blakester said hearing about the motion was like “getting a phone call from 200 years from the past”.
“It’s (the motion) foolishness in the extreme,” Mr Blakester said.
Mr Blakester said some of his main reasons against the motion were the loss of agricultural land, climate change and economical impact.
"We have to double our food production to be able to feed everyone, and any loss of agricultural land won’t help that,” he said.
“Australia has got the largest rate of extinction in the world and a new power station won’t help that, so climate change is another reason it’s (the motion) foolish.
“In terms of making this a success I think they are putting their energy into a dead end.”
GSC councillor Murray O’Keefe put the motion forward at the conference, and said he did not find the poll results surprising.
“No I don’t find it surprising it all,” Cr O’Keefe told Fairfax.
“I think there is a very vocal minority who just don’t like to see another point of view.”
Cr O’Keefe said the motion was more about debate and integrating coal and renewable energy.
“People seem to be misguided that it’s one idea or the other,” he said.
“We are absolutely in favour of planning with renewable energy and we think this (the motion) is a good play to improve efficiency.”
GSC mayor Jamie Chaffey said council welcomed debate on the issue of renewable energy.
“We welcome debate on any topic as a healthy part of any democratic community,” Cr Chaffey said.