Paul Bibby & staff reporters
Byron Shire Council will tomorrow (October 18) consider how to keep residents better informed about natural disasters and whether it needs to expand existing climate-change mitigation strategies.
A website providing up-to-date, local information about storms, floods and other potentially dangerous events could be created by Byron Shire Council under a proposal to be voted on at its next meeting.
The so-called ‘disaster dashboard’ would provide locals with a single site where they could get information relating to emergencies, roads and weather from a range of sources.
Greens Byron councillor Michael Lyon, who has put forward the proposal, said it had the potential to address the communication difficulties experienced during the floods in May last year.
Locals reported that they received conflicting reports and inaccurate information during that incident, which made it difficult to make informed decisions.
Cr Lyon said, ‘One of the problems we had in the last flood was all the different information seemingly available from different sources and the fact that people didn’t know where to get the right information.’
‘This website would seek to bring all of the relevant information from agencies like the SES, the Bureau of Meteorology and Roads and Maritime and put it all in one place.
‘You could potentially have live camera feeds of busy roads so people can get a sense of the traffic, and there would also be a list of evacuation routes if that becomes necessary.’
Lismore Council recently launched a similar site, which provides links to information about power outages, road accidents and up-to-date information about the height of the Wilsons River.
Townsville Council has a more detailed version (see above) that includes an interactive map featuring roadworks and road closures.
Climate emergency declaration
Meanwhile, Cr Cate Coorey is calling for support for a Climate Emergency Declaration, which would aim to expand ‘existing climate-change mitigation strategies.’
Developing a Climate Emergency Plan would ‘further enhance resilience and reduce climate impacts in a timeframe that is as fast as practicably possible,’ she writes. To make it happen, Cr Coorey says a special committee/panel of Council could develop the plan.
Cr Coorey refers to Darebin Council’s (Melbourne) Climate Emergency Plan.
She writes, ‘Councils in Banyule, Moreland, Yarra and Port Melbourne, as well as in NSW and Western Australia, are currently taking steps to follow Darebin City Council’s lead.’
While supportive of the plan, Council staff say ‘expanding the existing climate-change mitigation strategies and developing a Climate Emergency Plan is not included in the 2018/19 Delivery Program.’
Yet staff say an ‘initial view of the Darebin Climate Emergency Plan… closely aligns with Council’s Zero Emissions Strategy, a key action in the 2018/19 Operational Plan and well advanced in its preparation.’
So what is Council’s Zero Emissions Strategy? The agenda says it sets the context at the global, national, state and regional level, establishes Byron Council’s emission profile and the Byron community’s emissions profile. The strategy would also use the ‘National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) methodology as Council’s carbon accounting approach ie Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions’. The strategy also aims to set goals, targets and timeframes.