Kempsey Shire Council has moved to endorse a Long-Term Renewable Energy and Water Strategy at Tuesday's council meeting which will help reduce council's carbon footprint.
The strategy has been developed in response to council identifying a need to act on reducing emissions and becoming more efficient.
The strategy also includes the goal target of net zero emissions by 2050.
In February, council signed up to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment's (DPIE) Sustainable Council's and Communities Program. As a member of the program, the DPIE engaged the energy, carbon and water management consultancy, 100 per cent Renewables to assist council in the development of a long-term strategy.
Council's director operations Robert Fish said there would be a number of benefits from adopting the strategy.
"There are obviously the environmental benefits by reducing emissions and also the financial benefits depending on what council implements from the strategy," he said.
Councillor Dean Saul spoke against the recommendation and said there is a perception of the climate change debate being "anti-rural".
"Often it's seen to be that the climate change debate is anti-cow, anti-car and anti-rural and we must be careful about this," he said.
"This will have significant changes in the community and we have to be careful we aren't coming across as anti-rural and against farming," he said.
Councillor Leo Hauville spoke for the motion and said council needs to be a leader in renewable energy.
"There are cost benefits if we go down this path. We have to take action and we as a council need to do something about it," he said.
The Strategy provides a list of short, medium and long-term opportunities that could be implemented using various financing options which are also outlined in the strategy. These opportunities can be implemented when funding and timing is appropriate and may also occur when grant funding becomes available.
Some of the key opportunities from the strategy include:
- Sourcing more of Council's electricity from renewables
- Installing more solar panels at Council operated sites particularly Council's Civic Centre and progressing to larger solar systems with battery storage when feasible
- Implementing a trial of electric and hybrid vehicles and investigating electric vehicle charging infrastructure
- Investing in data management systems to enable monitoring of energy and to inform decision making
Council's Manager Strategic and Asset Planning, Erin Fuller, said the development of a long- term strategy was a key action in council's 2020-21 Operating Plan.
"While council is not solely responsible for implementing actions to reduce carbon emissions for the entire shire, council has a leadership role to play in looking at its own practices to reduce energy emissions where possible," she said.
"Having a strategy in place provides us with a framework around what actions need to be taken and what opportunities are available to improve our processes well into the future."
The Long-Term Renewable Energy and Water Strategy will enable council to lower emissions and water use by increasing the use of efficient and renewable technologies into the future.
The strategy can be viewed on council's website.