Over the last few months, Australia’s media has been dominated by the issues of COP26, net zero emissions and the need for economies to transition. But there has been little coverage of what that means within the most affected communities. For this reason, Lithgow Mayor Councillor Ray Thompson was pleased to recently put forward Lithgow’s perspective to an international audience.
During COP26, NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster, visited Lithgow to gain an insight into an Australian community dealing with change in the face of a low carbon future.
Mayor Ray Thompson hosted NHK’s Australian Bureau Chief Midori Aoki for the interview. The Mayor spoke of Lithgow’s proud mining and energy heritage while acknowledging the need for Lithgow to plan for the future.
Mayor Thompson explained “While we must continue to support our traditional industries, the reality is the transition for Lithgow from an economy based on coal mining and thermal power generation has already begun. Job losses in coal mining and the closure of the Wallerawang Power Station have placed Lithgow at the front and centre of the economic transition from coal mining to new industry sectors.”
On current estimates coal mining in the Lithgow area has a finite life of less than 20 years and the Mount Piper power station closure has been brought forward to 2040.
Mayor Thompson added “While we absolutely look to the levels of government to provide leadership, resources, support and funding for the transition, the council is not waiting and we are vigorously planning for the future of the local government area.”
With the support of the New South Wales government Lithgow council has embarked on the Lithgow Emerging Economy Project (LEEP). This project will build on previous work and will involve the engagement of high level consultants expert in economic transition to provide a roadmap for Lithgow’s future economy.
“I was very pleased to discuss our plans with our Japanese friends. We hope that the work to plan for Lithgow’s future economy and to provide jobs to future generations will build a reputation of Lithgow creating best practice for similar transitioning communities.”
“I remain very upbeat about the long term future of this city. Our area has some wonderful endowments including its incredible natural environment; skilled labour force; and proximity to greater Sydney. I am confident that the work to be carried out through LEEP will be the cornerstone of a vibrant future” added the Mayor.