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Mitchell Shire Council’s Draft Climate Emergency Action Plan released

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Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic is a senior journalist for the North Central Review primarily covering politics at all levels and sport with a particular interest in basketball. Since 2019 she has worked for several publications across Victoria including most recently at the Alexandra Standard and Yea Chronicle. She is always keen to hear from local community members about issues they face and has an interest in crime and court reporting.

Mitchell Shire Council’s draft Climate Emergency Action Plan is now available for public consideration until October 24.

The plan provides a roadmap for council and the Mitchell Shire to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions and was developed from community engagement and consultation activities with 617 participants.

Cr Rob Eldridge said the community input was ‘just amazing’ and diverse.

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“It’s worth noting this is just a vote to put it out to community consultation,” he said.

“This isn’t a vote for this action plan – it’s a vote to see how the community feels about this and to potentially come up with a whole lot of new ideas.

“This is the great thing about this – we get a whole other go at this.”

Cr Nathan Clarke said the plan was an example ‘of things done really well with community engagement’.

“We firstly had just really positive participation. A lot of community members came forward also with really good ideas,” he said.

“They were outside of what was prompted or put forward in front of them in the first place, which is really good to see.”

The estimated corporate actions implementation cost is about $4.5 million but, as reduction of emissions accumulates, an annual saving of about $3.1 million is estimated by 2034-2035 and is anticipated to increase into the future.

Lifetime savings from plan’s implementation are estimated to be about $15 million.

Council proposed actions include installing solar panels on council buildings, upgrading street and open space lighting to light-emitting diode, LED, and phased transition of fleet to electric.

It is estimated with the actions, council’s annual emissions can be reduced by 33 per cent by 2030.

Cr David Lowe proposed amending council climate emergency goal five to ‘to accelerate the transition to more sustainable transport solutions in Mitchell Shire excluding the use of electric vehicles while they carry a higher cost of either acquisition or usage’.

“I do have a problem not with the concept of using electric vehicles, I think that’s something that will be coming down the track, I just have a problem with the timing of the use of electric vehicles particularly council buying electric vehicles in the not-too-distant future,” he said.

“Given the fact the State Government is annually increasing the per kilometre tax on electric vehicles and that electric vehicles themselves are 20 to 30 per cent more expensive than petrol-driven ones, for council to be converting to electric vehicles now or in the near future is frankly just not tenable and I say that as a councillor and ratepayer.”

Councillor Bob Cornish seconded.

Crs Clarke, Elridge and Rhonda Sanderson, who noted the mayoral car was already an electric hybrid, and Cr Louise Bannister spoke against Cr Lowe’s amendment.

“We were also informed that this is a 10-year transition plan so it’s not a plan to go out and buy a whole fleet of vehicles. It’s looking to transition to electric vehicles,” Cr Bannister said.

“It’s important to note RACV have done studies and found savings can be $1000 to $2000 less per year for servicing and it comes back to the fact that electric vehicles have less moving parts so there’ll be savings there as well.

“The fact is the world is moving to electric vehicles no matter what anyway and as it stands, it’s looking like it will be cost effective.”

The amendment did not pass and the plan was released as written.

The council report advised that residents could contribute to net zero by buying an electric vehicle; walking, cycling or catching public transport where possible instead of driving for short trips; installing solar panels; and replacing gas hot water tanks, heaters, overs and stovetops with electric ones when possible.

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