Port Stephens one of three new Hunter councils to join Cities Power Partnership and pledge to tackle climate change

GREEN: Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser with Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer at the Tesla electric vehicle charging station in Heatherbrae. The two councils have joined the Cities Power Partnership program. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts
GREEN: Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser with Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer at the Tesla electric vehicle charging station in Heatherbrae. The two councils have joined the Cities Power Partnership program. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Port Stephens Council has further strengthened its commitment to tackling climate change by signing up to the Cities Power Partnership.

On the back of adopting its strongest climate change policy yet at the start of September, the council has now joined Australia's largest local government climate network and pledged to undertake actions that tackles climate change locally such as ramping up renewable energy and planning sustainable transport systems.

"From rolling out solar on council buildings to restoring beloved bushland, council has been working to cut emissions, save on energy bills and provide green spaces for the community to enjoy," Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer said.

"The Cities Power Partnership will help advance our work in this space, including a Sustainability Action Plan that will set clear emission reduction and renewable energy targets to create a strong, clean local economy."

Port Stephens is one of seven Hunter councils, from 10 in total, that have now signed up for the Climate Council's Cities Power Partnership, joining this year with Lake Macquarie and Cessnock councils.

In joining the partnership, the councils have six months to pledge five actions to tackle climate change within their communities.

Port Stephens has already pledged to install renewable energy (solar PV and battery storage) on council buildings, power council operations by renewable energy and set targets to increase the level of renewable power for its operations over time, create a green revolving energy fund to finance energy and efficiency projects and set up meetings and attend events to work with other cities on tackling climate change.

This is in addition to a range of actions the council has already undertaken which promote energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainability, such as:

  • Installed LED field lighting at three sporting facilities and completed LED lighting upgrades to eight council and community facilities;
  • Replaced 748 of 1801 streetlights with LEDs as part of an LED Replacement Program with Ausgrid;
  • Trialed Greencrete (concrete with recycled glass) on a major capital works project in Tanilba Bay (2018) and commenced investigation of further uses for this product;
  • Commenced the development of a Coastal Management Program to better plan for and address coastal hazards that are exacerbated by climate change and;
  • Created a suite of governance documents including an Environment Policy, Climate Change Policy, Sustainable Energy Planning and Design for Projects and Activities Management Directive, and Procurement Policy (incorporating sustainability principles) to help the council operate in a more sustainable manner.
The Tesla charging station on the Pacific Highway at Heatherbrae. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

The Tesla charging station on the Pacific Highway at Heatherbrae. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

At the September 8 meeting of council, the Port's councillors endorsed the creation of a new Climate Change Policy.

The move was welcomed by Climate Action Port Stephens. Speaking at the council meeting, CAPS president Alisha Onslow called on the council to take on a wider leadership role and set a target of net zero emissions for the community.

She also called on the council to join the Cities Partnership Program, which it has now done.

Cities Power Partnership acting director Dr Portia Odell welcomed Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens and Cessnock to the partnership.

"Right now, local governments have an opportunity to accelerate projects that will deliver local jobs quickly and tackle long term challenges like climate change. It's brilliant to see more regional councils sign up to the program to help deliver a safer climate and stronger economy for their communities," she said.

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