Blog | 23rd Oct, 2011

And we're off: Day 1 of EV vs EPA

It’s mid afternoon on the first day of our legal challenge against the EPAs approval of the HRL coal-fired power station.

I’m exhausted after the frenzy of the last few months of preparation, but I’m also relieved that we’ve finally got here.

I arrived this morning to a court room full of lawyers and barristers (I think there were 20 in total) and admin staff setting up bookcases in the room to handle all the documents.

At lunchtime, we emerged from the court room to a loud and enthusiastic rally out the front of VCAT supporting the action of environmentalists within – many thanks to any of you who made it along. Media interest has been running hot all day, with print, radio and television all getting in on the action. Even facebook and twitter have been excited about today’s activities. Check out the pics here

There is no doubt that this is a major case. It’s a huge undertaking for environment groups like Environment Victoria and our partner in the proceedings, Local’s Into Victoria’s Environment. But more importantly, the outcomes of this case will be of enormous significant for the future of coal-fired power stations in Victoria and potentially nation wide.

Right now, VCAT is hearing the arguments in relation to our legal standing in this case. HRL has challenged the legal standing of Environment Victoria, LIVE, Doctors for the Environment, and Mr. Martin Shield both of whom are also challenging the EPA approval of HRL.

We anticipate that these issues will be dealt with over the next few days, and then we’ll be able to move into the key issues of the case.

For the next four weeks we’ll be here at VCAT arguing that new coal-fired power stations can’t be seen as ‘best practice’ in this day and age, when genuinely clean energy alternatives are on the table and ready to go.

It’s an exciting case, but also a daunting one. And right now, I’m really feeling the enormity of it all. Instead of sleeping last night, I lay awake thinking about the case and about the campaign more broadly. I found myself reflecting on how we came to be here. And I thought about the people who helped us get here, and there driving passion for change.

Our supporters have been so generous to enable us to get here today. Support has come from all corners, with regular donors as well as many many first time donors chipping in to help.

Last week I spent half an hour over lunch assisting our volunteers open the mail that’s been flooding into the office regarding the case. I opened one letter from a supporter that particularly moved me.

The woman who’d written the letter was clearly worried about climate change, and couldn’t believe that Victoria was facing the prospect of new coal power stations, right at the time we need to replacing those that we’ve already got. Her letter told of her situation living with her mother as her carer. With the letter she’d enclosed a cheque for $300 to support the case, which she’d managed to save out of her carer’s allowance.

I was blown away by this woman’s generosity, commitment to this legal challenge, to our environment, and to making a better future. There have been many many more examples of generous community support for this campaign, with people giving generously of their time, money and contacts.

Our legal team has been equally as generous in their support of the campaign, with three barristers working pro-bono on our challenge.

We’ve still got a long way to go. A challenge to our standing, a four week hearing, a decision due sometime after that, and a community campaign running alongside it focused on the federal government funding of the power station.

Through it all we’ll try to keep you updated through regular blogs on our website, through Facebook and on Twitter (remember to use the hashtag #stopHRL).

But for all that you’ve done thus far to get us here today, thank you. Really, we couldn’t be here without you!