The company behind Australia’s largest community solar farm and leaders of Canberra students striking for climate change action have been honoured with Conservation Council environmentalism awards recognising their contributions to the environment.
SolarShare principal executive officer Lawrence McIntosh was named the CWP Renewables Environmentalist of the Year for developing and overseeing the community-share solar farm project since 2012. The company is behind construction of Australia’s largest community-owned solar farm in the ACT’s Majura Valley, which is set to generate enough clean energy to power 260 homes and prevent more than 1700 tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide pollution.
“Lawrence is a founding member of SolarShare, and with a team of dedicated volunteers, has seen the project through from the beginning to the important milestone of raising $2.37 million of investment in May this year from over 400 local Canberra residents,” executive director of the Conservation Council Helen Oakey said.
“Shares have been issued and work is now proceeding to build the solar farm, which will be Australia’s largest community-run solar farm when it is built.”
SolarShare won the Member Group of the Year award for its work on community solar farms, while Red Hill Bush Regenerators received an honourable mention for its work protecting and enhancing the Red Hill Nature Reserve in south Canberra.
Student leader of the Canberra School Strikers, Aoibhinn Crimmins, won the Young Environmentalist of the Year award for her dedication to protecting the environment and contribution to the Canberra community.
“It was exciting that Aoibhinn Crimmins was awarded the Moira and John Rowland Young Environmentalist of the Year for her leadership role in the Canberra School Strike for Climate movement,” Ms Oakey said.
“We have all felt inspired by the passion and clarity that the School Strikers have brought to the climate change debate. At the rally in Glebe Park on September 20, Aoibhinn and the other students drew 15,000 people from across the Canberra region to participate.”
“Canberra Strikers have won the support of the ACT Government and built successful coalitions with diverse organisations, and Aoibhinn has taken a prominent leadership role across all aspects of the event, including media interviews and political meetings.”
A contingent from the Canberra School Strikers were welcomed to the ACT Legislative Assembly by the Greens in September, following a resolution in August supporting the strikers and inviting them to speak at the assembly.
In a statement, the ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said that “the ACT was the first Australian state or territory to declare a climate emergency and the Greens fully support the students’ calls to take rapid action on the climate change emergency”.
“While we fully support the students’ ambition on climate change, it is still critical that we sit down, listen to them, and understand what young people in Canberra want from political leaders,” he said.
Fellow student organiser Clara McArthur received an honourable mention for her work leading the School Strikers as well.