May 12, 2015
When communities take up environmental health campaigns against big, multinational companies (and Governments who support them), the script is full of drama and it feels like David will never beat Goliath again. The Anglesea and Surf Coast communities had a huge win today. Alcoa announced the closure of it’s Anglesea Coal Fired Power Station and Coal Mine. They tried to sell it off … but no one wanted to buy it.
The Surf Coast Air Action (SCAA) group, together with it’s partners and supporters, waged a long campaign to disuade potential buyers. They made it clear that our community wanted the power station shut down. No one will ever know how much of a difference we made, but it matters little. The fact is, a well organised and coherent community campaign contributed to today’s announcement.
This story will resonate far and wide. It will motivate other communities to stand up for health and the environment. Government and industry will pay attention. It means that workers in the fossil fuel industry are going to continue to lose their jobs and they need to be supported to find work in emerging industries where their skills are valued. This outcome may also act as a precedent for other redundant, polluting facilities, such as Hazlewood in the Latrobe Valley, to close.
The Coal Mine and Power Station is now what they call a ‘Stranded Asset’. It’s worth nothing and will cost millions of dollars and a decade of work to clean up. We now have a tangible example of a stranded asset in our own backyard. It’s a compelling challenge and is full of opportunities. We can create a legacy out of this mess and leave behind something that is beautiful and thriving … something that is good for our health, our economy and the air we breathe.
Well done to everyone who has been involved in action and conversations over many years. Ever since the Anglesea NEIP project more than a decade ago, people have been dreaming and scheming to see this day arrive.