By BEV JORDAN
At its first meeting for 2022 Hills Shire Council’s newly formed council has dumped the energy strategy proposal approved at the last Hills Shire Council meeting of 2021 before the election on December 4th.
The motion to: “not to proceed with the development of a specific energy strategy” was passed at an extraordinary meeting of council held on Tuesday, January 11th.
It was moved by newly elected Liberal councillor Mark Hodges, who was elected Deputy Mayor at the same meeting, and seconded by newly elected Liberal councillor Jerome Cox.
Councillors Tony Hay, Ryan Tracey and Barbara Burton (Labor) and Mila Kasby (The Greens) asked for their names to be recorded against the motion.
The motion followed a successful move to rescind the Renewable Energy decision made by the previous Hills Shire Council at its meeting on November 23rd, 2021.
The Item, moved by Councillor Jacob Jackson and Seconded by Councillor Alan Haselden, recommended: “Council to commit to the development of an Energy Strategy to review our use of renewable energy and to reduce reliance on fossil fuels such as coal, gas, petrol and diesel.
“The strategy will identify options for increasing the use of renewable energy and identify the most appropriate energy projects including solar generation/storage, electric vehicles for Council’s operations and to commit to develop targets/milestones for Council to manage its energy in a financially viable manner.”
At that time, two Councillors Mike Thomas and Liz Russo requested that their names be recorded as opposing the Resolution of Council.
Tuesday’s (January 11th) revision motion, signed by Mayor Peter Gengemi and Councillors Hodges and Cox, said: “We believe the current policy settings include significant renewable energy actions, which reflect a positive direction for Council and the community.
Notwithstanding such belief it is always prudent for Council to review policies and as such the rescission of the Notice of Motion will afford all Councillors time to properly consider the Environmental Strategy and other policies where relevant.”
Councillor Hodges said the council was increasing its use of solar panels and LED lighting, saying the existing environmental strategy would ensure the continued reduction of the energy footprint.
Clr Ryan Tracey said scrapping a strategy on energy at council’s first sitting was “irresponsible”
Clr Mila Kasby said a Renewable Energy Plan was “absolutely” needed. “We should be By BEV JORDAN proactively leading the way and setting an example. All of our neighbouring councils are doing far more in transitioning to renewable energy. Hawkesbury Council is already 100 percent renewable and we don’t even have a plan.”
A move to have the matter put before a strategic planning workshop for further discussion and briefings from council staff was defeated by Liberal councillors.
• Council has 17 operational solar panel systems on operational buildings and 58% of the council’s lighting network are LED lights.
• Other projects include:
• requiring LED lighting for sports fields
• installing instantaneous gas hot water systems
• introducing sports field lighting control via text messaging in Glenhaven and Russell reserves
• installing carbon dioxide sensors and variable speed drive to car park exhaust and supply fans at the Castle Grand conference centre.”