Rural council reaches carbon neutral target

Article image - Rural council reaches carbon neutral target Colac Otway Shire will become Victoria’s first rural council to achieve carbon neutrality.

Colac Otway Shire is set to become Victoria’s first rural municipality to reach its Carbon Neutral Target following a range of changes to Council operations to reduce residual greenhouse gas emissions.

Council’s decision last month to commit $26,000 in funds for tree planting and revegetation from next year’s Budget to offset corporate emissions in 2020-21 will see Council meet its target.

Council has also committed to further emissions reduction through the installation of new heat pumps for all three pools at Bluewater Leisure Centre, transition to electric fleet vehicles and alternatives to mains gas to reduce its gas and fuel use, which will be staged over the next ten years with the aim to achieve carbon neutrality without offsets.

Over the past 10 years, following the endorsement of its Environment Strategy and Carbon Neutral Target, Council reduced emissions by 36 percent through a $1.5 million investment, which included $500,000 in grants.

This investment enabled energy efficiency measures, renewable energy and other emissions reduction work (which has been fully paid back through ongoing savings).

Council also agreed to purchase 100 percent Greenpower in 2020 and will complete an audit in 2022-23 to ensure its Carbon Neutral Target is being met. 

Mayor, Kate Hanson said, “There has been a great deal of work undertaken across the organisation to improve efficiencies and reduce our carbon footprint, which has resulted in a more sustainable future for Council and our community and significant cost savings.

“We are setting an important example for our residents and we have committed to continuing to reduce emissions with the change from gas boilers to electric heat pumps at Bluewater and transition to electric vehicles.

“Our Colac Otway community can feel very proud of its shire and the services that can be provided, while investing in our future and minimising greenhouse gas emissions.”