Approximately 300 climate activists have converged on Hazelwood Power Station in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria to demand its immediate shut down. The protest is one of the over 7000 thousand protests planned on the 10/10/10 to mark the annual 350.org protests. The protestors are planning to build a model of a solar power plant to symbolise how Hazelwood could be replaced to create a carbon neutral future.
For the latest photos see the Switch Off Hazelwood flickr Photostream | Takver's Replace Hazelwood Photostream | Climate Action Moreland | AYCC photostream | Youtube video: Shaun Murray on Replacing Hazelwood | Erecting the solar power tower | 'Switch off Hazelwood' Protest Rally - 10/10/10
To read updates from the day click here.
Hazelwood was the site of civil disobedience twelve months ago that resulted in twenty arrests. In response to this direct action the ALP increased penalties dramatically for protesting at power stations. In the lead up to the Victorian state election the Brumby Government has announced that it intends a partial shut down of Hazelwood, but this would depend on finding hundreds of millions of dollars of compensation for International Power, the private multi-national that owns Hazelwood. International Power has been making record profits from the plant and was recently bought by French Power company GDF Suez. The Switch Off Hazelwood organisers are calling for:
- The urgent decommissioning of Hazelwood Power Station.
- Replacing its capacity with renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
- A just transition for coal workers through the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency manufacturing facilities in the Latrobe Valley.
Full coverage of the day from the Indymedia Media Centre at the protest.
- Heavy security has greeted the beginning of the demonstration with a road block enforced a few kilometres from the `power station. Demonstrators are currently massing to rally to the main gates of Hazelwood. Police on boat, helicopter, motorbike and horse are all patrolling the site including members of the search and rescue division. Around 30 police are gathered at the main gate with many more visible scattered around the perimeter. Numerous Toyota vans with tinted windows are also present. A new 9 foot barb wire topped security fence has been erected restricting access to the car park and much of the area demonstrators accessed last year.
- Shaun Murray (Friends of the Earth) addressed the crowd before the march began, arguing convincingly why Hazelwood, Australia’s dirtiest coal power plant, should be shut down.
- Activists have marched to the gates of Hazelwood lined by a heavy police presence. Protesters chanted and carried banners denouncing the Gillard and Brumby government’s policies which continue to advocate coal as Australia’s primary power source.
- Melbourne singer/songwriter Penelope Swales took to the stage to entertain the crowd, who remain in high spirits.
- Preparations to create the human solar array have begun, a renewable juxtaposition to Hazelwood, the aging coal dinosaur.
- The tower of the human solar array has been erected to the applause of the activists. It is an impressive 10 metre high tower that is surrounded by almost 100 solar reflecting mirrors held by the protesters, who chant “Coal we don’t dig it, leave it in the ground it’s time to get with it!”
- Protesters have lined the security fence with banners espousing the positive economic benefits of renewable energy. One slogan reads “Renewable energy employs 2 million people worldwide.” Earlier Cam Walker, from Friends of the Earth, spoke of redirecting the compensation that International Power sought from the government for the closure of Hazelwood should be redirected to local economy of the La Trobe valley to allow it to restructure in a post-coal economy.
- Comedian Rob Quantock entertains Victoria’s latest renewable energy “employees” as the hold their solar panels. He makes comment about the “massive employment opportunities” that renewable energy presents.
- The Lurkers are about to take to the stage. The activist musicians have travelled down from NSW to regale us with their subversive bluegrass sound.
- Food supplied by Darebin Climate Action Now and Supreme Master are feeding the hungry crowd with their delicious vegetarian food.
- There is a festival atmosphere – some dance to The Lurkers’ infectious sounds whilst others soak up the welcome sunshine – much appreciated after last year’s rain!
- Oli MC just impressed the crowd with his rhythmic rhymes, telling us whilst what we do is the problem what we can do can be part of the solution.
- Erland Howard from Greenpeace informs the protestors about the role that banks play in the coal and power production industry, pointing to the Commonwealth Bank’s 9% stake in International Power, the company which operates Hazelwood.
- Cam Walker from Friends of the Earth talks of the positive impact of last year’s action in getting the phase out of Hazelwood back on the agenda. He looks to the future calling for the total closure of Hazelwood within the next term of state government and replacing Hazelwood with a mixture of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. In November a rally is planned to coincide with the state election and to warn the parties that they will be judged at the polls on their climate change policies.
- Alina Canavira Sullcani, the Bolivian representative to the 2010 Cancun Conference addressed the crowd noting that there is no power plant on the scale of Hazelwood in operation in Bolivia. She pointed to the global impact of climate change and gave messages of solidarity and well wishes to future demonstrations, believing that the movement will grow from the hundreds here today to millions in the years to come.
- The crowd and organisers thank all involved in the successful action as many start the long journey back from whence they came. The Lurkers retake the stage to finish off what has been a day of constructive and positive protest.