Hazelwood heritage listing rejected

Heidi Kraak

Hazelwood Power Station will not be included on the Victorian Heritage Register, Planning Minister Richard Wynne told The Express on Wednesday.

Heritage Victoria executive director Steven Avery recommended the site not be included on the register in May, however, the Heritage Council made a recommendation earlier this month that it should be included.

The process was open for the public to make submissions although the decision was ultimately up to the Planning Minister, who said Hazelwood Power Station “does not warrant inclusion on the register”.

Mr Wynne said the power station was not associated with any key phases in the development of the Latrobe Valley, did not demonstrate or contain any new information or technologies or contain any unusual features.

Latrobe City Council had advocated for Hazelwood’s eight iconic chimneys to be retained, however, Mr Wynne said the stacks would not be included on the register.

“[Council’s view] doesn’t really address the view of the proponents,” Mr Wynne said.

“It would not satisfy the view of the applicant because they saw the power station in its entirety, not just the stack as being of heritage significance.”

Mr Wynne said site owner ENGIE was exploring ways to recognise the significance of the site but no requirement had been placed on it to do so.

“It’s up to the site owner. They’ve been quite open to recognising the significance of the site that does acknowledge its social and industrial history for over 50 years,” he said.

“I think we can get a really interesting interpretive centrepiece and that would be a great asset for the community.

“I think that the great people of the Latrobe Valley are very proud of their heritage.”

ENGIE welcomed the announcement the power station would not be included on the Victorian Heritage Register.

“We are committed to working with local history groups to ensure that any items and equipment of historical interest will be preserved for future generations,” Hazelwood rehabilitation project director Tony Innocenzi said.

“We are proud of Hazelwood’s long history in this community and want to ensure its social and industrial role is honoured.”

ENGIE said decommissioning of the power station was completed in May with the site now awaiting demolition which is expected to start in 2019.

Asbestos Council of Victoria/GARDS chief executive Vicki Hamilton welcomed the Planning Minister’s decision.

“I believe it is the right thing for the community,” she said.

“It keeps people safe. I don’t want to see it standing when it could be a possible danger for people into the future.

“You cannot decontaminate a power station.”

Ms Hamilton said she was “very relieved” the stacks would not be included on the register either.

“They are dangerous, they are just about ready to fall down on their own,” she said.

“Who was actually going to pay to keep all these stacks upright? It would be the taxpayer and that is not good enough.

“As far as I am concerned they are dangers, they need to come down and not be blight on our community any more.”