Thursday, 12 November 2009

Mary Valley celebrates Garrett's decision to veto Traveston Dam proposal

It has been a long fight against the proposed Traveston Dam for Mary River catchment communities in Queensland, and they now have what is hopefully a long respite from any talk of new dams with Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett's announcement rejecting the dam on solid environmental grounds.

Everyone who took part in this marathon lobbying deserves congratulations - from the Save the Mary River co-ordinating committee and those who turned out at protest rallies right down to anti-dam letter writers and tweeters. Collectively they have been a pattern card of perseverance in the face of tremendous political pressure.

NSW Northern Rivers residents will remember that the 2006-07 proposal to dam the Clarence River was at one time linked to Queensland Government plans for water security in the south-east of that state.

The Courier Mail said it all early today:

THEY screamed, they hugged, they danced and tears of joy rolled down their cheeks.

After an eerie few moments of silence as more than 100 protesters and supporters put down their glasses and held their breath to watch federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett deliver his verdict on the Kandanga Hotel's bar television, complete pandemonium erupted as soon as he said the word "no".

Nobody heard any more of his speech. The cheers almost lifted the roof off the pub as farmers, business folk, mums, dads and kids were swept up in the moment of joy after 3½ years of fighting the proposed $1.8 billion Traveston Crossing Dam.

The overwhelming feeling was one of relief – and disbelief.

Hard-core protesters who had spent the morning grimly putting more "no dam" information into mail-outs and arranging protest signs for tourists passing by on the Mary Valley Rattler steam train had to pinch themselves.....

Most had expected the dam would get the green light, with even more conditions added to the 1200 already imposed by the Queensland Co-ordinator General. Secretly they had prayed for the best but expected the worst.

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