Andrea Gaynor writes in The Conversation (3.2.17) about environmental campaigners in Perth fighting to stop the destruction of bushland for a new highway. The author argues that the activists have two of three historically important factors on their side.
‘Here in Perth, a battle is raging over a 5km stretch of road known as Roe 8. Work on the project, part of the proposed Perth Freight Link, began late in 2016 and as legal avenues to halt construction were exhausted, opponents resorted to non-violent direct action. Some protest “mass actions” have attracted more than 1,000 people from all walks of life and by the end of January, as bulldozers tore through the Coolbellup bushland under costly police protection, well over 100 had been arrested.
‘Proponents say the road is necessary to improve the safety and efficiency of freight traffic to and from the Port of Fremantle. Opponents point to freight alternatives that will avoid Roe 8’s destruction of Aboriginal heritage, endangered banksia woodland, and important wetlands. Critics have also decried the government’s lack of transparency and prudence in decision-making, and highlighted serious shortcomings in environmental policies and laws.
‘The state’s Labor opposition has promised to scrap the project if it wins government at the state election on March 11, yet to the shock and dismay of many, bulldozing continues.
‘How will the conflict end? While history provides no sure guide to the future, it does reveal that successful environmental campaigns have tended to share several key features that unsuccessful campaigns have lacked. What are they?’