Last Saturday it was on again. Surfers and beach lovers around Australia came together in their tens of thousands to protest against plans by Norwegian company Equinor to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.
Saturday’s National Day of Action followed a rolling series of protest paddle outs earlier in the year that drew tens of thousands of people to beaches right across the country. The rallies were held in opposition to Norwegian fossil fuel giant Equinor’s plans to drill one of the world’s deepest and most remote oil wells out in the Bight.
Saturday’s National Day of Action saw rallies take place on beaches right around the Australian coastline between Exmouth in Western Australia and Townsville in Queensland. Coastal communities will gather on some of Australia’s most iconic beaches including Bondi, Manly, Bells Beach, Byron Bay, Margaret River and Currumbin on the Gold Coast.
Equinor’s Environment Plan is currently being assessed by offshore oil and gas industry regulator NOPSEMA. The EP for the project was rejected for a second time on November 8, and Equinor were given a further 21 days to resubmit further information. If approved, Equinor plan to drill an exploratory well in late 2020.
Torquay surfer Damien Cole of the Surfrider Foundation Australia led the initial round of paddle out protests in March and coordinated Saturday’s National Day of Action:
“What we saw with the paddle outs wasn’t ‘radical activism’; it was the people of the Australian coast drawing a line in the sand and saying no. These are coastal communities whose way of life is being threatened by a large fossil fuel company. The paddle outs had everyone from young kids to people in their seventies, surfers and non-surfers alike, and there was an incredible feeling out in the water. What we’ll see on Saturday is as much a celebration of Australian life by the beach as it as a protest against Equinor.”
When you think about it 55 rallies around Australia on one day attracting over 30,000 participants should send a signal to NOPSEMA, EQUINOR and the government that drilling for oil in crazy dangerous waters hundreds of kilometres off land is just a risk too big to take.
Coming into summer more and more people are heading for the coast to enjoy our fantastic beaches and catch a wave. It would be a great shame if these beaches were covered in black sludge… all because our politicians and the Australian regulator valued profit before people.
Written by John Foss