More than 150 angry Lara residents protested the proposed Prospect Hill waste-to-energy incinerator plan on September 16 with a march and speak-out.
Chants of “EPA, Do as you say ... protect Lara all the way!” and “When the air we breathe is under attack, Stand up, fight back!” rung out through the streets.
Many on their first demonstration shared concerns about poor air quality, environmental impacts and the devaluation of land on an open microphone.
Organiser Charles Street told the crowd that waste incineration is not appropriate for any residential and farming area. He said Dr Peter Tait and a team of 10 others had found there is insufficient evidence to conclude any incinerator is safe.
Local mum and organiser Mel Szocs said the community needed to keep up the fight. “I’m here doing this for my kids; for all our kids; for the elderly; for everyone in our community.” She urged everyone to get involved and write letters to the Environmental Protection Authority, planning minister Ingrid Stitt and other MPs.
Organiser Les Dew said people’s homes are only 350 meters away from the proposed incinerator site. They also said there are enormous safety concerns about situating a furnace 450 meters from the Viva gas storage facility and that Prospect Hill has not provided a business case for its incinerator plan.
Socialist Alliance Windemere Ward Councillor Sarah Hathway said council will write to the planning minister to outline the communities’ concerns. “We have an opportunity to protect Lara, Corio and the City of Greater Geelong and future generations.”
Hathway said other councillors are concerned about the environment and sustainability, and that now is a good time to “rule out incinerators anywhere in Geelong”.
Local man Yusi told the crowd that Lara and Corio were being targeted because they are not wealthy suburbs. The wealthy would not put up with breathing toxic, cancer-causing gases for two generations, he said.
Dr Sarah Mansfield, Greens Member of the Legislative Assembly and a GP, said she was concerned about the implications for public health from such incinerators. Mansfield will table a petition in parliament.
[You can sign the petition here. It closes on October 2.]