Climate plan’s anniversary a cause for celebration
ADVOCATES, council and community groups have all lauded the success of a collaborative Queenscliff climate response, which marks its one-year anniversary today.
Renewable energy infrastructure, electric vehicle charging stations, new transport strategies and tree-planting projects are among initiatives already underway in the first 12 months, as lobbying continues for long-term changes aimed at addressing climate impacts.
The Borough of Queenscliffe adopted a Climate Emergency Response Plan (CERP) on May 19 last year, which outlined climate objectives and strategies as part of a 10-year plan to become a net-zero community by 2031.
Development of the plan included formation of Queenscliffe Climate Action Group (QCAG), a grassroots group that works alongside the borough and community organisations to put the CERP into action.
Point Lonsdale Bowls Club is among the early recipients, signing up to install solar panels at its clubhouse later this year through a QCAG partnership.
The club said the borough’s adoption of the CERP had spurred it into action and accelerated plans, which will ultimately save it money on power bills while reducing its climate footprint.
“We had discussed it, but it had never been focused on. The plan was the catalyst,” club president Rob Nicholls said.
“There were schemes going and it was well organised, a lot of the homework had been done for us.”
Club vice-president Michelle Higgins agreed: “It took the headache out and helped make things simple – I don’t think we would have done it without them,” she said.
The bowls club decision followed discussions and site inspections with QCAG to address questions and concerns with the change.
QCAG acting president Stuart Kent said community engagement was fundamental to the group’s role in increasing uptake.
“It gives organisations a non-biased, trustworthy partner to help them find what they need, rather than someone who’s directly selling them a solution, which is a strong pain point for the market,” Mr Kent said.
Increasing renewable capacity is one of eight pillars QCAG identified under the CERP when development of the plan started following a 2019 council decision to declare a climate emergency.
The pillars also address Indigenous heritage, sustainable buildings, transport, education, adaptation, waste management and environmental regeneration – all of which Mr Kent said had seen progress in the CERP’s first year.
“We’re a small group with limited resources, but we have some amazing minds in our group and the community,” he said.
“I think we’re doing a great job of identifying where the pain points are, getting people to adopt and organisations to come along for the ride.
“We’re quietly pleased with how it’s gone over the first 12 months, but we’re not sitting back and expecting it’s just going to happen.”
Progress is evidently continuing for key CERP initiatives; construction began this week at Queenscliff Town Hall for new bike racks and EV charging stations.
Initiatives in the pipeline for the next 12 months include efficiency upgrades at Queenscliff Neighbourhood House, tree planting at Victoria Park and a Reconciliation Plan with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, which are all set to receive funding in BOQ’s 2022-23 draft budget.
The borough said it will continue planning and advocacy for a community battery to boost renewable energy capabilities and continue a rollout of its household food waste collection service, which is due to finish by August 1.
It had also signed up to 100 per cent renewable electricity for council operations and started development of an Active Transport Strategy since adopting the CERP.
“I’m proud of how our community came together to develop the plan, and how we’re coming together again now to implement each of the emissions-busting projects we identified for our community,” borough mayor Ross Ebbels said.