Hydrogen project response mostly positive

Latrobe City deputy mayor Dan Clancey said the coal to hydrogen pilot project would allow the region to build on its reputation as Victoria's "power house". photograph hayely mills

Latrobe City deputy mayor Dan Clancey said the coal to hydrogen pilot project would allow the region to build on its reputation as Victoria's "power house". photograph hayely mills

Latrobe City deputy mayor Dan Clancey was glowing in his praise of the coal to hydrogen project at Thursday's launch at Loy Yang A power station.

"Today marks one of the most significant milestones on this city's run towards the finish line of prosperity in Latrobe," Cr Clancey said.

"This will enable us to continue to build on our proud heritage and reputation we already have as Victoria's power house."

"Hydrogen brings new energy to communities to leverage our resource of brown coal that is a cultural and geographical heart of our Latrobe City area. We welcome this today."

Among the amassed guests in the room was Advance Morwell president John Guy, who said there was plenty of enthusiasm about the project among attendees.

On Friday, he announced his support for the project.

"It's going to take a lot to replace what we lost [in terms of jobs] at Hazelwood and what we lost through the downgrading of the electricity industry but provided we can continue to bring work into the area ... it'll be good for the area," Mr Guy said.

"I think we've got one of the greatest natural resources in the world in brown coal and we've just got to find other ways of using it that doesn't contribute to the carbon load or have an effect on the environment."

Community response to the project on The Express' social media sites has been largely positive, although some have raised concerns about whether the project will come to fruition following the abandonment of other coal-related initiatives in the past.

Among those with a sceptical approach to new projects is Gippsland Trades and Labour Council secretary Steve Dodd, but last week he described the project as a "step in the right direction".

"Hopefully it will work and it will be the making of a new brown coal industry," Mr Dodd said.

"There have been a lot of projects over the years in the Latrobe Valley that have not come to fruition. But it seems here the Japanese and Australian governments have put their money where their mouth is.

"We have the highest skilled workforce in all of Australia right here in the Latrobe Valley. The unions will be campaigning for local workers to fill these jobs."

Voices of the Valley president Wendy Famer said it was important to proceed with caution.

"There's been $1.3 billion invested already into carbon capture and storage and we have nothing to show for it, including jobs," Ms Farmer said.

She said it was important the health impacts of the project were assessed and raised concerns about the government giving public money to an overseas consortium.

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