Press Release - November 8, 2022

Latrobe Valley, with massively polluted air from coal-burning power stations, ignored in government’s clean air plan

The Latrobe Valley, home to Victoria’s three massively polluting coal-burning power stations, has been completely shut out of the state government’s new plan to provide “clean air for all”. 

The Victorian government has just released its Air Quality Strategy which sets out a 7-year plan to support communities disproportionately impacted by air pollution.

But the Latrobe Valley community, which has powered Victoria for decades and experiences the severe health burden of toxic air pollution from power stations, gets just one mention in the 30-page document. 

The government nominated Melbourne’s inner and outer western suburbs as ‘air quality improvement precincts’ and said it will fund a program to improve air quality. Community members will have input to hold polluters accountable, this is a welcomed and important initiative for Melbourne’s west which has significant air pollution. 

However, shockingly this has not been extended to the highly polluted Latrobe Valley.

Key take aways from the strategy:  

  • Coal-burning power stations in the Latrobe Valley are one of the main sources of toxic pollution including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particle pollution in Victoria. 
  • Reducing air pollution from coal-burning power stations by 2030 in Victoria would save $2 billion in health costs.     
  • Melbourne’s inner and outer west will be targeted as “air quality improvement precincts” to reduce localised PM10 and PM2.5. 
  • There is no plan to make the Latrobe Valley an air quality improvement precinct to address the main source of air pollution: coal-burning power stations. 

“This is not a plan for all Victorians. Our community has powered Victoria for decades, and our community shoulders a huge health burden from breathing toxic air as a result, but we’ve been shut out of the government’s clean air plan,”Wendy Farmer from Voices of the Valley said.  

“Minister D’Ambrosio must include the Latrobe Valley as a critical region to address the toxic pollution we breathe in every day from coal-burning power stations.” 

“It’s time for our elected representatives to step up for the Latrobe Valley community and really provide clean air for all – because breathing is non-negotiable.”

Coal-burning power stations are one of the biggest causes of pollution in the state, causing serious health impacts on the community including causing asthma in children, low birth weight in newborns and heart and lung conditions.

Environmental Justice Australia Lawyer Chloe Badcock said: “The strategy – now three years overdue – makes important improvements, including greater information for communities affected by bushfires, vehicle and wood smoke pollution. However, there is no commitment to provide the same resources to the Latrobe Valley community, whose health is impacted by pollution pumped from coal-burning power stations.”

“This strategy acknowledges power stations are a key source of pollution, but provides no plan to improve community knowledge, require tighter pollution requirements for power station operators or involve the Latrobe Valley community in deciding which sources of pollution should be targeted to improve the health in their region. 

“There are several effective pollution reduction technologies used widely around the world, proven to reduce toxic pollution from coal burning power stations by up to 99 per cent.”  

Media contact: Kathryn Lewis, [email protected], (03) 8341 3110