Upgrade pre-empts severe season

With a severe fire season forecast, the state’s environment minister has visited Mount Tarrengower to check progress on the $1 million upgrade of the heritage-listed fire observation tower.
“We are coming into a significant high fire risk season,” Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said on Friday as she and Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards visited the tower – one 66 across the state.
“Our fire seasons are getting more intense and they’re getting longer,” the minister said.
Work to upgrade the fire spotter’s observation cabin on top of the tower began in June and is expected to be ready for use by local fire spotter of 22 years’ experience, Peter Skilbeck, by the middle of next month.
“The role people like Peter play is so crucial,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
The upgrade – which involves building an entirely new larger cabin and meeting current standards – comes as much of the nation braces for what’s forecast to be a particularly high-risk fire season.
This is amid intensifying calls for greater political action on climate change from groups like Castlemaine-based Central Vic Climate Action who are actively lobbying state and federal politicians to reject new coal projects.
While the state environment minister would not be directly drawn on the question of whether her party would commit to rejecting new coal projects, she strongly asserted Labor’s commitment to the clean renewables energy transition.
“Our commitment is absolutely clear. We have the most ambitious targets in terms of carbon emission reductions,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“We legislated two years ago for net zero emissions target by 2050 and we’re in the process of preparing our interim targets for the next two sets of five-year periods.
“We’ve got a very strong target for growing renewable energy in Victoria – again legislated – and we are the only state to legislate renewable energy targets, which will drive significant growth of new energy technologies, clean energy, affordable energy, as we transition to net zero emissions.
“Our commitment is to grow more new renewable energy, not to grow more new coal-fired generation.
“The fact is we need to transition away from carbon-intensive industries and our record is there for everyone to see. It’s real.
“This year we’ve got 700 megawatts of new energy generation, clean, 100 per cent emissions-free generation that’s now pumping clean energy into our system and we’ve got 1700 megawatts of new clean renewable energy that is now under construction.”
Ms D’Ambrosio said the government would soon be announcing the largest single auction for renewable energy for new-built generation in the country.

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