Byron ‘eager to get cracking’ on renewables, forum hears

Mayor Simon Richardson with fellow panelists at last week’s renewable energy forum. Photo supplied

Mayor Simon Richardson with fellow panelists at last week’s renewable energy forum. Photo supplied

Christobel Munson

The keenly interested audience of more than 80 gathered at the Mullum Civic Centre on Thursday night were not disappointed by the promise of ‘a night of action on renewables.’

Yes, there was talk. But this was talk that packed a punch.

Keynote speaker Taryn Lane, a manager of Hepburn Wind, Australia’s first community-owned cooperative windfarm in Victoria, provided details of how local communities around the world are working together to reduce their emissions through community investment in large-scale renewable projects.

She has just returned from a three-month Churchill Fellowship tour where she spoke to zero-net communities all around Europe.

Taryn said, ‘Many communities globally have already paved the way for us to follow. Communities can secure their own renewable pipeline to 100 per cent. They can own it locally and benefit from it. Having local government leadership is pivotal to this.’

Dan Fitzgerald, from Small Giants, described the company’s investment policy as ‘using business as a major tool for positive social and environmental impact’.

The company is keen to provide initial funding for the development of large-scale solar PV projects in Byron Shire as a way for the Shire to reach its emissions reduction target. How members of the community could invest in these projects was outlined.

Chair of Zero Emissions Byron Limited (ZEB) Vicki Brooke presented the evening and launched a supporters’ group, while mayor Simon Richardson outlined the accomplishments of ZEB in its first two years of operation.

Lavertys Gap hydroelectric

COREM’s Dr Rob Passey listed the many challenges faced in attempting to resurrect the production of hydroelectric power at Lavertys Gap outside Mullumbimby, while Giles Parkinson, founder and editor of, Australia’s leading website on clean technology and climate issues, facilitated the evening and the following Q&A session.

The following day an ‘action tank’ was held in Byron Council, aiming to get clear and specific about how large-scale renewable projects can be constructed in the Shire within the next 24 months. Key players, ‘eager to get cracking’ in the mayor’s words, ranged from Essential Energy, local investors and relevant providers through to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Expect a public announcement shortly.

Christobel Munson is from Zero Emissions Byron – for more info visit

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