Tomorrow, 100 people will set off on a 14-day, 325km walk from Port Augusta to Adelaide’s Parliament House — calling on the Government to build Australia’s first solar thermal plant.
The walk starts on Sunday 16th September with a rally Gladstone Square in central Port Augusta, where the Mayor will address a crowd of hundreds. It will end on 30th September with a rally of thousands at Adelaide’s Parliament House.
With the impending closure of the two coal power plants in Port Augusta, public pressure has continued to mount on the government to act on this issue. A public vote in Port Augusta in July showed 98% of voters chose solar thermal as their preferred option, over a gas plant and pipeline.
“Building solar thermal will keep jobs in the town and have health and climate benefits. The council, businesses and even the power company, Alinta, all want to see this built” said Ellen Sandell, National Director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. “The Port Augusta community has made their choice clear — now the government needs to make it happen.”
The Federal and State Governments have yet to commit to supporting solar thermal and have come under criticism for continuing to give handouts to Australia’s dirtiest power plants instead.
“The Federal Government is giving $4.5 billion to our dirtiest coal power stations for them to remain open – even if they only function for one day a year. They should be funding solutions, not pollution. They should re-direct this money to building a big solar plant in Port Augusta, which will keep jobs in the town”, said Daniel Spencer, spokesperson for the Repower Port Augusta Alliance.
An unusual Alliance including the Port Augusta council, unions, small business groups, think-tanks, health and environmental organisations have come together to support the Walk for Solar and the proposal to build solar thermal.
The Repower Port Augusta Alliance is an alliance of diverse organisations and groups including:
Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Beyond Zero Emissions, National Union of Workers, Australian Services Union, Business Port Augusta, 100% Renewables, Doctors for the Environment, Climate and Health Alliance, CLEAN SA, Conservation Council of South Australia, National Education Union, National Tertiary Education Union, and the Port Augusta Regional Council.