Kempsey Shire Council moved a motion at the council meeting on Tuesday that will see councillors workshop a range of issues regarding climate change which will then help develop a policy to enhance council's energy efficiencies and increase renewable energy provision in the Macleay Valley.
Councillor Bruce Morris put forward a motion for council to review a Draft Climate Change Policy and develop an action guide including strategies and plans to reduce the impact of climate change in the Macleay.
"It's important we act and take charge with this issue," Cr Morris said.
"This has been the driest January and February in the Macleay Valley this year. We as a community need to make changes."
Councillor Sue McGinn added an amendment to the original motion that includes councillors conducting a workshop to better understand the issues and also changing the name to a Environmental Sustainability Policy to include a broader range of renewable ideas and waste reduction.
"The workshop will better help councillors understand how the policy will help the Macleay be more sustainable," Cr McGinn said.
"I believe this would be a higher policy to implement because it covers a broader range of issues, not just climate change."
Following the workshop there will be a recommended policy for council to adopt.
Two members from the Macleay Living Sustainably group, Dr Nona Harvey and Mandy Hustler, addressed the councillors at the meeting and urged them to take action against climate change.
"It's irrefutable that climate change is increased by human greenhouse gasses and we as a community need to reduce our impact on the environment," Dr Harvey said.
Councillor Leo Hauville spoke against McGinn's amendment and said council needs to acknowledge climate change.
"We shouldn't be running away from climate change, we need to acknowledge it and councillor Morris' motion does this," he said.
Councillor Anna Shields spoke for the amendment and said it encourages all councillors to get involved in the policy.
"The amendment engages all councillors in the policy through the workshop," Cr Shields said.
Before the amended motion was put to the councillors, mayor Liz Campbell said implementing a climate change policy is important.
"No one is sitting here saying we aren't wanting to implement a policy, we just need to make it current for today," mayor Campbell said.
The amended motion was carried at the meeting and will see council hold a workshop for councillors to discuss and better understand the suite of issues contributing to climate change and how the Macleay Valley can be more sustainable.
Macleay Living Sustainably said they have mixed emotions following the decision by council.
"As with the Motion on Climate Change Policy that was put at the December meeting, it was radically amended and considerably watered down from the original version. And again every attempt was made to delete the words climate change in the amended motion," Dr Harvey said.
"We are disappointed that all the effort that Councillor Morris, in consultation with the Macleay Living Sustainably group, made putting together the Climate Change Policy could be wasted effort.
"We haven't given up yet," she said.
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