Adrian Shackley’s responses to Questions on Climate Change
In this post we invited all the candidates in Gawler and surrounding councils to answer the 4 questions we formulated with respect to what their knowledge and stance is on climate change.
Here’s the response we received from Adrian Shackley:
Question 1: What relevance do you see climate change issues having for Gawler Council over the next 4 years?
a) Not relevant
b) A bit relevant
c) An issue which council deals with among many issues
d) One of the more important issues for Council
e) An issue which should be at the centre of Council planning
d) or e) But implementing this will not be easy as history demonstrates.
I have been a councillor for 8 years and previously active in lobbying Council on environmental matters. Gawler Council took some initiatives about 7 years ago. Council finally employed an environment officer after years of lobbying, joined ICLEI and started work on an environmental management plan for Council. All of these initiatives stopped when the environment officer resigned after about a year. Council administration effectively blocked further action and the Council itself failed to insist on continuing action.
With the new Council 4 years ago, Council again resolved to allocate money for an environment officer. This was manipulated by Council administration so that the job was split with one person allocated half time to sustainability matters and another allocated half time as a technical officer. This was under the responsibility of the then Director of Planning and Infrastructure who demonstrated a very negative attitude to environmental issues and community involvement in environmental projects with Gawler Council.
The sustainability officer was doing some effective work on emissions and resource data baselines, grants for solar installation and the like but clearly found the job difficult for a number of reasons and left for another job in 2013. The technical officer has had some involvement with tree management, river re-vegetation projects and cycle planning but I can’t think of significant outcomes in these areas beyond what Council was previously doing. Not a good picture overall over several years.
The advent of a new CEO in 2013 has seen a significant improvement. There have been many other priorities to sort and climate change and sustainability have been fighting for significance. However, the said Director of Planning and Infrastructure had his position made redundant early on and a new officer with sustainability responsibility has been appointed in the last few weeks. There is reason to be optimistic that the Council administration will be moving positively.
The position of Council overall after the election will depend to on who is elected.
Question 2: What actions are you aware of where Gawler Council is currently taking action related to climate change?
Council has been active in some resource saving initiatives including major investment in cycling and walking (including footpaths), making fuel efficiency a priority for Council vehicles, some solar energy initiatives, efficient air conditioning, more efficient water usage on grounds, water saving toilets, involvement with NAWMA on better recycling initiatives, monitoring power usage (especially street lighting and working on more energy efficient lighting) and some revegetation work which assists with carbon storage.
But Council has a fair way to go to have climate change issues front and centre in driving work throughout Council activities – eg in planning and development, works operations, setting air-conditioning temperatures to reduce power use and the like.
The new 2014 Gawler Community Plan recognises climate change as a significant challenge for Council but it remains to be seen how this is prioritised.
Question 3: What actions do you think Gawler Council should be undertaking in the next 4 years related to climate change?
Finishing an environment management plan for Council operations, building understanding in the Council workforce about the issues, putting auditing mechanisms in place and implementing targets for more efficient resource use.
Re-joining ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.
Having a Council transport and traffic plan which is focussed on saving energy (this is to be finalised in the next year).
Ensuring that Council has the staff expertise to carry out these activities.
Question 4: What actions do you think Gawler Council should be undertaking with the broader Gawler community related to climate change?
Council has a major role in using its activities to demonstrate good practice related to climate change issues. By explaining to the community how Council itself is tackling the issues this will raise awareness and enthusiasm in the community.
Recycling initiatives through NAWMA (of which Gawler is a part owner) are a valuable way of involving the community. Reducing waste to landfill is a major issue which the community can be involved in.
Promoting walking and cycling much more to reduce car use. Gawler is pretty high up on car use stats. Involving schools in strategies related to transport to schools is important.
A more effective street tree policy to ensure that shade is increased and involving the community in looking after street trees and management of road verges.
Click here to see the list of those candidates who have responded