Community calls for strategy and resources to manage transition from coal industries in Collie
Conservationists, workers and local leaders have agreed that planning must begin now to manage Collie’s transition from coal-based industries, calling on the State Government to provide funding and support to manage the transition.
At an Environment Matters forum, organised by CCWA and held at Trades Hall, environment, trade union, and Traditional Owner representatives discussed the need for an economic transition strategy to enable a managed transition away from coal as the primary source of employment and economic activity for the town.
CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said “Conservation groups have long been calling for a phase out of coal-based industries but those changes need to be planned carefully so that towns like Collie have a strong economic future in other industries.
“A Transition Strategy is required with financial assistance from the state Government. This would enable new sustainable industries to be developed and allow the community and local workforce to transition away from coal without major disruption.
Coal industries becoming unviable
“Plans for a new coal export industry have been shelved and the local market for coal is also becoming unviable with the uptake of renewable energy increasing, and the need to reduce pollution.
“Reducing Collie’s reliance on coal industries will result in better health and cleaner air, but there must be a strategy to manage the economic impacts and to diversify the town’s economy.
“Collie has a lot going for it, but these opportunities need to be developed and invested in through a planning process that engages the community in a genuine plan for the future.
Transition taskforce required
Deputy Mayor of the City of Bunbury Brendan Kelly said that a task force of local leaders and government was needed to plan the economic transition for Collie, away from coal.
"The end of the coal industry in Collie is occurring before us"
"We are probably 5 years behind where we ought to be, but that doesn't mean we cannot still get the job done" he said.
“The challenge for Collie is a challenge for WAs South West Interconnected System which provides electricity across the grid to most Western Australians.
"For the sake of energy policy in the south west of Western Australia the task force will need to approach its work with urgency.
Mine rehabilitation could provide transitional employment
Mr. Verstegen said that the CCWA had estimated the costs of environmental rehabilitation of the Collie coal mines at over $100 million.
“This rehabilitation effort could provide employment for a sizeable workforce as part of a transition from mining coal to other industries.
“Collie is at the centre of the State’s energy supply grid, so there are also opportunities for new renewable energy developments in Collie.
“We call on the state Government not to abandon these communities, but to instead invest in a just transition Strategy for Collie.
Piers Verstegen – 0411 557 892
Brendan Kelly – 0407 219 515