19 February 2020
At a time when extreme weather conditions – with extreme consequences from droughts to fires to floods – has shifted the focus of global debate to the consequences of climate change, so too have water and energy resources come under greater scrutiny.
We’re learning hard lessons that turning on the tap is far from a basic human right, and there’s more to the supply of energy than flicking a switch. What we’re learning is that we need to be conscious of the way we use water and energy not only for the future of the planet, but to ensure supplies to support our way of life now.
The provision of energy is a particularly poignant topic for our region, as the literal powerhouse for the State of NSW encompassing coal and power generation.
But the energy landscape as we know it in our own backyard is on the cusp of major change, not least with the planned closure of the Liddell power station and as a growing attraction for renewables, including plans for a 72-turbine wind farm straddling the Singleton, Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter local government areas.
Of course, there are a number of viewpoints and valid arguments for and against both prospects, and the reality is there will be impacts on our economy. But of most concern is the impact on people.
This week I’ve been in Victoria with my colleagues from the Liddell Closure Advisory Committee, meeting with community leaders in the Latrobe Valley about their experience of the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station in 2017.
There are good news stories to come out of Latrobe, but the people we spoke to were also very honest about the impacts of the loss of hundreds of jobs and the work needed to shift not only the economy, but the region’s sense of its own identity.
It’s a reflection that is also relevant for our community, particularly as we launch into the development of a new Community Strategic Plan and encourage people to envision what they want for the future of towns such as Branxton and Singleton, and the wider local government area.
Never before have the decisions we make in our own homes, and at the local government level, had such potential for global impact. And never before has an industry faced such a tidal wave of transformation and transition as the energy sector is confronting now.
Whatever one’s personal views on climate change, what is required is government action to support the communities that have supported the prosperity of millions of people for decades, as we face our own – and one of the world’s – greatest challenges.
Cr Sue Moore
Mayor of Singleton