Gearing up to fight CCS

A MEETING at the Longford Hall about the CarbonNet project, partly organised by Friends of the Earth, has held up the Lock the Gate movement as an example of how to fight large projects.

CarbonNet is a state and federal investigation into carbon capture and storage in Bass Strait.

A seismic survey, mapping rock formations underwater, is currently underway.

Residents have been protesting the project, saying they were not consulted properly, and now say the seismic survey has disturbed their sleep and caused other woes for them and their families.

At the meeting, activist Ursula Alquier spoke about how she helped form an action group against coal seam gas exploration, and the power of a united community which led to a moratorium on onshore gas extraction.

A short film was also screened, detailing how the Seaspray community pulled together against CSG, and local Kerrin Schelfhout spoke about her experience fighting “horrifying” big businesses.

Friends of the Earth campaign manager and environmental scientist Cam Walker spoke about carbon capture and storage, noting it could be used for industrial purposes but not coal power generation, and there were still many unanswered questions involving piping and wells, which could affect the environment.

He was upfront and honest about his point of view as a member of a green group, and added he once thought carbon capture storage could be an answer to reducing emissions, but concluded the technology was always “over the rainbow” and far too expensive.

“Today is to test the waters for community opposition against the carbon capture and storage project at Golden Beach,” he said.

“What’s next is a planning meeting, to organise the strategy that’s likely to include a community survey, so door knocking, to establish the level of opposition — assuming that level of opposition is as high as you would expect from the showing today — that would show there is no social licence for this project to proceed at Golden Beach, then a political strategy.

“Carbon capture storage has gone absolutely nowhere.

“There’s a point where you have to draw a line in the sand and stop spending money on things that don’t work and start spending it on things that do work, like energy efficiency, like solar and commercial-scale wind — they’re job rich and bring benefits to regions.”

Some of the questions from the community involved compulsory acquisition of land for pipelines to be installed, and the effect of the seismic survey on wildlife.

Life guards are patrolling the beach to make sure people don’t go swimming when the boat is close to shore, though the beach is open on weekends, and there are marine mammal spotters watching for whales and dolphins.

Some people repeated their assertions that seismic testing had made them feel ill, one resident claiming the vibrations when the ship was close to shore were like the tyrannosaur from Jurassic Park.

There will be another meeting in the next few weeks to decide an action strategy. CarbonNet was contacted for comment.