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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says “the most exciting job creating-proposal in the Latrobe Valley for decades” has moved a step closer to reality with the release of Australian Paper’s feasibility study into an Energy from Waste plant at the Maryvale Mill.

Mr Chester spoke at today’s launch of the feasibility study which he says can help solve Melbourne’s waste disposal problems, while creating a long-term energy solution for the mill which currently employs more than 800 people.

“The three most important issues in the Latrobe Valley today are jobs, jobs, jobs,” Mr Chester told today’s launch in Melbourne.

“The Latrobe Valley has a rich and proud history of powering our state but we also have a great future.

“We need to build on our traditional strengths while also securing new job opportunities through innovation and investment in new technologies.

“The feasibility study released by Australian Paper is another step forward in the project that will take up to five years to bring to fruition, if it passes the necessary environmental approval processes.

“Energy from Waste is a proven technology around the world and I’m confident that we can develop the world’s best environmental practices to overcome any concerns and secure much needed employment in the Latrobe Valley.”

The feasibility study was a $7.5 million project jointly funded by the Federal Government, Victorian Government and Australian Paper to assess the potential for the Maryvale Mill to become a renewable energy plant. The plan takes into account both logistical efforts in terms of building and operating the plant and preliminary designs and cost estimates.

Mr Chester said he was keen to continue working across all levels of government to ensure Australian Paper and its joint partner Suez receives every opportunity to develop the project.

“It’s important to note this project relies on Melbourne’s ever-growing waste stream which currently goes into landfill and creates environmental issues in itself,” Mr Chester said.

“At the same time, if it’s developed, it will secure Australian Paper’s energy needs and allow for more gas to be released onto the domestic market.

“It is very much a win-win solution to significant problems and it will provide greater job security and sustainability to Australian Paper’s existing operations.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the study would allow the Federal and Victorian governments and Australian Paper to make a fully informed investment in the Latrobe Valley’s future.

“Projects such as this can be game changers for regions – Australian Paper has previously estimated that a plant would support up to 1,600 construction jobs and 40 direct ongoing roles – so we will be very interested to see positive benefits coming from any future plant,” Mr McCormack said.

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