Whoever makes up Lithgow Council following the December 4 elections will inherit a region in a state of transition.
Lithgow was built on a foundation of industry and those roots are still prominent today. But, as Australia and the world begin to grapple with a necessary transition to more sustainable and responsible methods of energy production and waste management, Lithgow is poised to become a very important part of that change. In fact in our previous reporting on the Wallerawang battery hub and changes afoot at Mt Piper we have touted Lithgow as a hub of renewable energy.
Of course big developments like this are not necessarily the purview of local government, but it still plays an essential role in approvals and community liaison. And whoever is elected needs to understand that as much as it's important to spend ratepayers' money responsibly, so too it must understand and manage what will certainly be a time of uncertainty for some.
As these new technologies are great, the industry that built Lithgow is nowhere near death either. That isn't to say that they cannot both live together. But as we've seen with the earlier-than-planned closure of Mt Piper, there will be people out of work and it's up to local government, and the Lithgow Mercury, to make sure these companies are held accountable to their word and that Lithgow can transition seamlessly into a brave new world of industry.
This is by no means a zero sum game either. Greater Lithgow is more than its industry, as important as it is. When - or if - the travel between Lithgow and rest of Western Sydney is reduced, Lithgow is set to boom in other ways. Not only will it be easier for someone to live in Lithgow and work remotely or travel a short commute, but it will mean tourism gets a shot in the arm too.
Lithgow is an underdog when it comes to natural attractions, locals know this already but the sooner others start to realise that just over the mountains is even more natural beauty they will make the trip.
Whoever makes up the new Lithgow City Council, they have their work cut out for them.