Surf Coast to become carbon neutral

Surf Coast Shire will become a certified carbon neutral organisation by June 2022.

Councillors adopted the draft 2021-22 budget at Tuesday’s council meeting, which includes plans to make the shire carbon neutral by the end of the 2021-22 financial year through the federal government’s Climate Active program.

“Accredited carbon offsets will be purchased to offset emissions from operations, services, facilities and work processes,” mayor Libby Stapleton said.

“The cost of carbon offsets will partly be funded from landfill gate fees. We will continue taking action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, with the remaining residual emissions being offset.

Other investments in the draft budget that support the environment are the continued funding of council’s Towards Environmental Leadership program, preparing the next section of the Anglesea Landfill, and further work to transition council buildings to use of renewable energy.

Cr Stapleton said council will continue to upgrade buildings to be accessible for everyone, introduce a trial of Auslan sign language at council meetings and events; continue its commitment to the Anglesea Arts Space; and fund more public art in the shire.

“This year we will also establish a role to help council to improve its engagement with traditional owners and support reconciliation,” she said.

Providing community infrastructure is a key theme of the draft budget, with a $28 million spend on capital works.

Just over half of this ($14.5 million) will be spent on new projects, such as the Anglesea Netball Pavilion redevelopment (subject to a successful grant), renewal of Anglesea’s Coogoorah Park boardwalk, and works to support future activity at the former Winchelsea Shire Hall.

The draft budget also includes funding for projects that are already underway, such as the Stribling Reserve Pavilions redevelopment in Lorne and the Grant Pavilion extension in Torquay.