Zane Alcorn

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) organised a “save solar” rally in Newcastle on June 6. The rally was at the office of Liberal MLA Tim Owen and was the latest in a string of protests calling for planned retrospective cuts to NSW’s solar bonus scheme to be abandoned. The rally attracted about 250 people and included many solar industry workers. SEIA representative Chanti Richardson chaired the rally and introduced Solar Newcastle (SN) director Adam Dalby.
Members of climate action group NoPlanetB.org blocked the haulage of coal from Xstrata’s West Wallsend underground mine for several hours on May 30. A climber was suspended in a tunnel entrance on a haul road, used for transferring coal to the port of Newcastle. Others stood in front of trucks. The group sought to raise its concern about the demands from the coal industry, including Xstrata, that pollution from coalmines be exempt from the federal government’s proposed carbon tax.
A big ad campaign — “Australia says yes” — began this month to support the federal government’s proposed carbon tax. The campaign has been organised by a coalition of peak environment and social justice organisations including GetUp!, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. One of the people featured in the advertisements is actor Cate Blanchett. Her presence attracted the ire of conservative politicians and commentators as soon as the commercials aired.
Newcastle climate, forest and anti-war activist Pete Gray passed away on April 30 after a battle with cancer that lasted more than two years. Pete was a week and a half short of his 31st birthday. Pete was a founding and active member of the nationally and internationally renowned activist group Rising Tide Newcastle, whose bold direct-action approach to climate activism has earned the acclaim of many supporters.
A group of 30 people held up construction of a second loader arm at Newcastle's third coal loader site on Kooragang Island on May 10, stopping a crane crew for about 90 minutes. The protest coincided with what would have been Newcastle climate activist Pete Gray's 31st birthday. Gray sadly lost a two year long battle with cancer on April 30.
Seven climate activists who temporarily shut down coal loaders at Newcastle harbour in a September protest will wait another month to find out if they owe Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) $525,000 in “compensation”. The activists appeared in Newcastle Local Court for two days of hearings on January 31 and February 3. They were convicted of “remaining on enclosed lands”. Each was fined $300, plus $79 in court costs.
Greens MP David Shoebridge joined members of climate action group Rising Tide Newcastle at a press conference on January 28 to condemn Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) “victim’s compensation” claim of $525,0000 against seven protesters. PWCS is pursuing the claim in response to a peaceful protest organised in September 2010, which stopped coal loading in Newcastle port for almost 10 hours.
The third annual camp for climate action will happen in the Hunter Valley from December 1-5, between the Liddell and Bayswater power stations. The camp will bring will be an important forum for diverse groups to build stronger links with one another.
The NSW government has decided to cut the solar photovoltaic feed-in tariff from 60 cents per kilowatt hour (kW/h) to 20 cents per kW/h. The October 27 announcement came after the tariff received a strong uptake, particularly in Sydney’s western suburbs and rural NSW. The total capacity once remaining orders are connected will be around 193 megawatts (MW). The Greens and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) slammed the decision to axe the tariff.
Climate change is the biggest threat to our future, and coal is the biggest cause of climate change, yet right now there are plans for 12 new coal or gas-fired power stations around Australia. In this context, the Camp for Climate Action is taking place over December 1-5 at Liddell recreation area in the Hunter Valley, a little over an hour inland from Newcastle. The camp will take place near Liddell and Bayswater coal-fired power stations and in the sprawling moonscape of massive coalmines in the area.

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