LATROBE Valley and the wider Gippsland community can now have their say on the future of the Latrobe Valley’s coal mine sites.
The survey makes up part of a larger research project which is funded by AGL Loy Yang and led by Federation University environmental scientist, Dr Jess Reeves, through the university’s Future Regions Research Centre, which was launched this year to support regional communities in transition.
The project aims to investigate and evaluate the views and opinions of the local community on future land and water uses within the Latrobe Valley and surrounding region when considering the rehabilitation of these coal mine sites.
For each survey completed, $5 will be donated to either Headspace or Lifeline, up to a maximum of $2500.
The survey will run until August 31.
Dr Reeves is urging the community to complete the survey to ensure the best outcomes for current and future generations.
“We are not planning for what happens now, we are planning for what happens in decades’ time,” she said.
“The mine rehabilitation is going to take a long time to finally achieve, so it’s going to have an enormous impact on the community that is within the Latrobe Valley.
“These are the people who have supported the power industry for many generations but it’s going to be their future as well, so they need to have a say in their own landscape.”
Despite welcoming a variety of suggestions from the community, Dr Reeves said these suggestions should be feasible and stick to Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Authority’s mantra of ‘safe, stable and sustainable’ and consider environmental limitations and climate change.
“There’s limitations with what you can grow there. You can’t grow enormous trees on unstable slopes but you can certainly have grassed areas or pasture, walking tracks and things like that,” she said.
“It needs to be feasible and we need to make sure we are planning things for a change in climate.”
The survey follows the first phase of the larger research project which included a series of focus groups with Latrobe Valley stakeholders including local government, Indigenous community leaders, environmental, recreational and agricultural groups and a future focus group for secondary students.
“It was fantastic,” Dr Reeves said.
“(Participants had) really diverse views, some of them really want to have access to the site, some of them want to see the sites rehabilitated and reincorporated back into the natural landscape, all of them wanted to see a positive outcome for the Latrobe Valley.
“Many feel that not only has there been jobs and services provided by the generation of electricity, but there’s also been a health burden that’s been borne by the Latrobe Valley community in providing power for the rest of the state to flourish – so there’s quite a lot of people who feel they are owed a bit too and they want to see a really positive social and economic benefit come out of the rehabilitation for all of the community.”
Residents aged 15 and over can complete the survey via surveymonkey.com/r/SGL6V3W.