Council stepping into a renewable future

Shire Notes with Councillor Sue Abbott

THE United States may have pulled out of the Paris Agreement (Accord de Paris), but here in the Upper Hunter we are embracing the future. After many years of dedicated campaigning for a council-supported sustainable group, the mayor has finally been able to see his advocacy come to fruition with the creation of the new Upper Hunter Shire Council Sustainability Advisory Committee – and I am truly honoured to have been elected chair of this inspiring group. A quick audit of what we are already doing in the Upper Hunter Shire at a local level to curb emissions shows that we certainly have the necessary will to launch us into the next stage of holistic sustainability practice.

With Boomerang Bags organised by Sew Scone tackling the calamity of plastic bags, and Paddock to Pantry’s Growers Markets on the last Saturday of each month, and all the Men’s Sheds repairing, re-using and recycling, just to mention but a few, it is quite clear that our community is prepared to become a driving force of the clean energy revolution. And now at a local government level, council has enshrined into the Community Strategic Plan 2027, a commitment to address the shire’s vulnerability to climate change and to prepare for the future by building resilience.

Furthermore under a landmark new national initiative (the Cities Power Partnership, created by the Climate Council) the Upper Hunter Shire Council with at least 34 other councils across Australia has pledged to become a ‘climate champion’ reducing emissions and building a greener, more efficient and more resilient community. As part of the Cities Power Partnership Launch in Canberra on July 19, 2017, and on behalf of all of us, Cr Kiwa Fisher presented the recommendations of the Upper Hunter Shire Council’s Sustainability Advisory Committee that solar photo-voltaics and battery storage be installed on Council buildings including the Scone Administration Centre, the Early Learning Centre and Gummun Place Hostel in Merriwa.

Cr Fisher also pledged on our behalf that the Upper Hunter Shire Council would investigate the provision of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, endeavour to meet greenhouse gas emissions target in fleet purchases, encourage sustainable transport use (public transport, walking and cycling) and implement an education and behaviour change program for the community and staff.

This article first appeared in the Scone Advocate on 3 August 2017

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