In the lead up to the big anti-CSG rally that will take place next Tuesday May 1 in Sydney, this is an inspiring story of how Wollongong Enviro Collective took on the CSG monster on campus.

In 2011 the evil administrators of Wollongong Uni hit upon their most dastardly plan yet: to build a giant trigeneration gas-fired power plant in the middle of the main campus.

Alarmed by their uni’s utter megalomaniacal insanity, the brave stalwarts of the UOW Enviro Collective were initially taken aback. Did the uni’s depravity know no limits? Would they be content with building a gas power plant on campus, burning up lots of coal seam gas and pumping poisonous nitrous dioxide into the air for 25,000 students to breathe, or was this simply stage one in a project to turn the entire university, then the whole of Wollongong, into a giant CSG field? Anything seemed possible.

The Enviro Collective rallied its forces. We held a big screening of Gasland which was attended by over 100 students. We handed out thousands of leaflets and posters. We held an even bigger “No Gas at UOW!” forum where even more people, including lots of angry, anti-CSG locals, came and grilled uni officials. In September 60 of us turned out to rally, chant and drum our way through campus. Meanwhile, possibly one of the biggest anti-CSG groups in the country took shape locally ( who held truly massive events, kindly helped get our propaganda out to thousands of others, and probably spooked the uni a great deal. Then at the start of this year a few representatives of the collective were invited to meet with the uni’s Environment and Sustainability Initiative and told the gas plant plans had been shelved indefinitely. Victory!

Now our collective is continuing to campaign for 100% renewables on campus. After defeating the gas plant, we’ve decided to make our way to the 100% renewables goal through a series of small, winnable steps, the next of which is ending UOW’s sponsorship arrangements with AGL, the second-biggest CSG company in the country – something we feel we can achieve fairly easily. We’ve written an open letter to the heads of marketing and are awaiting their response.

Christian Darby (University of Wollongong)

For more info on the May 1 rally: