Hydro Tasmania rejects national campaign

27 November 2012

Hydro Tasmania has described a campaign attacking its role in the Malaysian state of Sarawak as being materially inaccurate and a significant misrepresentation of the facts.

CEO Roy Adair said the Save Sarawak Rivers tour organised by environmental groups such as the Huon Environment Centre was continuing to promote misleading information as part of a wider campaign against hydropower development in Sarawak, the Malaysian forest company Ta Ann and the Sarawak Government.

Mr Adair said he would have expected Greens Senators Christine Milne and Lee Rhiannon to have checked their facts before coming out publicly today in support of the campaign.

“Greens Senator Milne today recited a list of incorrect statements about Hydro Tasmania’s involvement in the Malaysian government’s SCORE renewable energy project. A simple examination of the facts reveals that Hydro Tasmania’s role in Sarawak is of a limited nature.

“Senator Milne referred to Hydro Tasmania’s involvement in development of the third of 12 dams proposed as part of the SCORE project, known as the Baram Dam. Hydro Tasmania is not providing any consultancy services for the development of this dam, which is the stated focus of the campaign launched today.

“Hydro Tasmania is not involved in flooding rivers and displacing indigenous people. We are not providing consultancy services on the Baram Dam project. A simple check of the facts with us would have established that.”

Mr Adair noted further that the Baram Dam is currently the subject of a detailed social and environmental impact analysis, which will take place over the next 18 months, and which will involve full consultation with anyone potentially impacted by the construction and operation of the dam. Questions about the dam and associated community consultation should be directed to Sarawak Energy Berhad, whose project this is.

“Attacking Hydro Tasmania is pointless and misguided when we are not involved with the project at the heart of this campaign.”

Mr Adair said Hydro Tasmania is a champion of sustainable development of hydropower development and operation. Hydro Tasmania is a member of the International Hydropower Association and undertook a lead role in the development of the IHA protocol on sustainable hydropower development.

Hydro Tasmania’s professional services business Entura has provided a limited range of services to the government-owned Sarawak Energy Berhad to enhance its capability to develop renewable energy projects sustainably. These services include safety advice, training, technical feasibility studies and technical due diligence.

“Entura is one of a number of international consultants working in Sarawak yet we are being targeted primarily because we are government-owned and seen as a soft target,” Mr Adair said.

“The campaign being run by environmental groups describes us as a major partner in the multi-billion dollar hydropower project in Sarawak, but nothing could be further from the truth. The major consultants on the project are from other countries. Even among Australian consultants, we are a small player.

“Much has been made of the reliance of Sarawak Energy Berhad on our people who are on secondment to that business. As of today we have just five of our people on secondment there and this will drop to four by the end of the year. The future of this multi-billion 20-year project will be dependent on the skills and actions of SEB’s employees and not those of a handful of secondees from Tasmania.”

Mr Adair said the business was disappointed that activists and opponents of Hydro Tasmania’s role in Sarawak have not discussed their concerns directly with the business or checked the accuracy of their claims before making inaccurate public statements.

“The activist campaign against our business is based on untruths and inaccuracies, and it is unfortunate that it will continue to spread these in a series of meetings around the country,” he said.

Mr Adair said he was looking forward to meeting with those involved in the campaign during the tour to ensure they are given the facts regarding Hydro Tasmania’s limited assistance of Sarawak Energy Berhad, and hopefully bring to an end this material and damaging misrepresentation of the situation.