The Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition (CVCC) will be having its 30th anniversary later this year. The anniversary is in September but the major celebration will be held on Friday June 1st during the Re-Weavers Awards Dinner.
The Awards this year, the eleventh year of the event, will focus on the achievements of the Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition and two other Clarence environment groups - the Clarence Valley Branch of the National Parks Association of NSW (founded in 1980 as part of the campaign to save the Washpool Rainforest from logging) and the Clarence Environment Centre (founded in the early months of 1989).
The CVCC was formed in 1988 following the announcement that the Japanese company Daishowa International, which already had a wood chip mill on the NSW South Coast, was planning to establish a $450 million chemical pulp mill in the Clarence Valley.
The proposal for the mill was announced in the local paper The Daily Examiner on August 30. Ian Causley, the NSW Minister for Natural Resources and the Member for Clarence, the local state electorate, heralded the proposal claiming that it was "a red letter day" for the Clarence and the state.
Some community members welcomed the announcement, claiming the mill would provide an enormous boost to the local economy.
But not everyone welcomed it. Many were concerned about the impact such a large industrial development would have on the local environment – not just of the Clarence Valley but of the whole NSW North Coast because it was obvious that such a large mill would be drawing its feedstock from across the region. Concerns included the amount of water this mill would use, the decimation of the forests, the effect on the wildlife of the forests, the likelihood of poisonous effluent being released into either the Clarence River or the ocean as well as the likelihood of air pollution.
On 19 September 1988 concerned people met in Grafton to discuss the proposal and consider what action should be taken. This meeting resulted in the formation of the CVCC.
It was decided that the CVCC would gather information on the proposed mill, disseminate that information and seek support throughout the Clarence Valley and elsewhere on the North Coast.
In the ensuing months the group sought information both locally and internationally on pulp mills and pulping processes and attempted to obtain information from the company and governments on the proposal. Public meetings were held in Grafton, Iluka, Maclean and Minnie Water as well as in other North Coast towns. In addition the group produced information sheets, issued many media releases, participated in media interviews, distributed bumper stickers, met with politicians both in the local area and beyond, and wrote letters to politicians and The Daily Examiner.
The proposal was eventually abandoned. The strength of local opposition and the hard work and commitment of campaigners in the CVCC and other community organisations on the North Coast paid off. It demonstrated that strong community opposition to a huge, inappropriate development could defeat it.