The NSW government is being accused of “sitting on” reports about emissions from Liddell and Vales Point power stations, which were submitted to the state’s environmental watchdog more than six months ago.
Station operators handed over the reports, which deal with managing emissions of the pollutant nitrogen oxide, to the Environmental Protection Authority in July.
Read more:Liddell power station on borrowed time
But the reports have not yet been released, despite NSW environment minister Gabrielle Upton answering: “yes”, when asked during a Budget estimates session in September whether the reports would be made available.
Now the government and EPA say the reports are behind closed doors for “commercial in confidence” reasons.
NSW Greens environment spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi wrote to Ms Upton to ask about the reports in January, but on Monday Dr Faruqi received a letter from parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald that said the Greens would have to file a freedom of information application for the documents.
Read more:AGL remains committed to Liddell closure
Mr MacDonald wrote that the minister had asked him to respond and that there were “commercial in confidence” issues.
Dr Faruqi said she believed the reports had “the potential to reduce the huge air pollution and health impacts of burning coal on local communities”.
“It seems increasingly likely that the NSW government is sitting on [the reports] in order to benefit the owners of the power plants, so they can delay or even avoid installing pollution control equipment,” she said.
When asked this week why the reports had not been released, the minister’s office would not comment and referred Fairfax Media’s questions to the EPA.
The EPA offered a brief written response to questions about whether – and when – the documents would be publicly available: “The EPA is currently reviewing the reports. The reports may contain commercial in confidence information.”
Mr MacDonald said on Thursday that the EPA was still considering the reports.
“Some aspects go to the operators’ commercial functions,” he said.