Installation of 5500 solar panels on Council facilities, hosting the first ever Youth Climate Summit, and the commencement of a major upgrade to the city’s recycling facility are just some of the many initiatives and projects that the Unity Team have delivered over the past two terms of Council to drive positive outcomes for the environment.
As the only place on earth where two World Heritage areas meet, the Unity Team knows how important it is to ensure that Council takes a leadership role in protecting the environment.
During the past 8 years Council has managed to cut greenhouse gas emissions as of 2007 by 47% thus far in keeping with the commitment of a reduction of 50% by 2020.
This target is now well within its sights and this year’s Budget featured $15.6 million in environmental initiatives that will certainly make this target more than achievable.
Some of the highlights of the past two terms of Council are:
- Hosting the first ever Youth Climate Summit in November, gathering the views and aspirations of young students to feed into the development of Council’s new Climate Policy and emissions target.
- Commencement of the $7.6 million upgrade and expansion of the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to achieve a diversion rate of 85 per cent and processing increase to 25,000 tonnes per annum.
- A new glass-sorting and processing plant will be delivered as part of the MRF upgrade, allowing glass to be recycled locally.
- Commencement of the upgrade to the popular Buy Back Shop Shop which will allow the diversion of waste from landfill (through re-use) to increase from the current 700 tonnes per year to 1000 tonnes a year.
- Upgrade of plant to enable more than 10,000 tonnes of concrete from Council demolitions to be crushed and reused locally in the construction of roads and as a sub-base for buildings.
- The installation of 5500 solar panels on Council facilities, cutting energy costs.
- Development this year of mini solar farms (costing $3.35 million) at Council’s five big wastewater plants, reducing energy costs by up to $417,000 a year.
- Commitment to continue the rollout of smart water meters, with $3.4 million allocated in this year’s Budget and $13 million slated over the next two years to complete the installations across the city.
- Leak detection program completed to detect underground water leaks, with more than 2100km of water infrastructure surveyed and a total of 464 leaks identified.
- Introduction of collection points at libraries and transfer stations for household batteries, with 7 tonnes of batteries collected so far.
- Endorsed the replacement this year of more than 300 street lights in the CBD from the current 400 Watt Metal Halide HID fixture to a 250 Watt RoadLED fixture which will reduce energy consumption of the CBD street lighting by approximately 40% and will result in lower greenhouse gas emissions as well as the absence of mercury content.
- More than 120,000 trees provided from Council’s nursery were planted on public lands. The nursery will be upgraded this year to increase its capacity to propagate in excess of 60,000 trees annually.
- Successful e-waste program collects more than 300 tonnes of televisions and computers through the Portsmith and Smithfield waste transfer stations.
- Developed the Cairns Water Security Strategy aimed at securing long-term water supplies for the region.
- Introduced the very popular annual event, EcoFiesta, attended by more than 10,000 people a year who want to adopt more environmentally friendly practices.
- Formally supported the Straws No More campaign and commenced the phasing out of single-use plastics.
- Development of the Thrive water conservation campaign, aimed at reducing water usage.