By Catherine Hearse
This Sunday’s declaration of a ‘Coal and Gas Free’ Mirboo North will be a testament to the strength of rural Victorian communities. It is the culmination of a great struggle between this small town, set in the idyllic Strzelecki Ranges, and the interests of big miners.
The celebration marks the completion of an extensive survey procedure which showed that 96.6% of the community is opposed to any coal or coal seam gas development in the area. It has been a long battle for an area blanketed with exploration licenses, spurred by local individuals, community groups and the council, with Quit Coal’s input and support. The town joins Poowong, Seaspray, Harmers Haven and Yarragon South, who all became Coal and Gas Free Communities in 2013. Mirboo North is the largest town in Victoria so far to undergo the survey and declaration process.
Sunday’s festivities are an inspiration to more than twenty Victorian communities currently undergoing this same hands-on democratic process that reclaims the power from government-backed fossil fuel developers and preserves an essential part of Victoria’s food bowl. Mirboo North is justly proud of its scenic surrounds, beautiful forests, lush pastures and productive farms.
The fertile agricultural land of Victoria, with thriving dairy, beef and vegetable industries, needs this type of community led protection from desecration by coal and unconventional gas. With the risk of gas leaks, fire danger, water contamination, air pollution and the huge contribution to carbon emissions, Mirboo North has a reason to be getting active. These communities are fighting for the protection of their health, their land, their water and the world’s climate, and Quit Coal is proud to assist them in this fight.
The community of Mirboo North has invited all to join their Declaration Day at Baromi Park, 12 noon, this Sunday the 9th of February. There will be great locally grown food, live music, an art, photo and poetry exhibition and the declaration of yet another Coal and Gas Free Community in Victoria! Come and show your support; Quit Coal and the residents of Mirboo North would love to see you there.