Taking action at Council

Sustainability and climate action is a key focus area of the Council Plan 2021-2025 and is fundamental to protect the natural environment, the liveability and livelihoods of residents and businesses across the Shire.

To do this, we are focusing on the following areas:

  • Climate change mitigation – reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the Shire
  • Climate adaptation – helping people, landscapes and the economy be more resilient to a changing climate
  • Improving waste and recycling, and developing a Circular Economy 
  • Nurturing biodiversity across the Shire and safeguarding our precious water resources.

Council unanimously declared a climate emergency in September 2019. The emergency acknowledges that temperature rise above 1.5°C will lead to major and irreversible damage to ecosystems. Up to one million species face extinction. Locally, climate change will increase fire hazard with an increase in hot days, impact rainfall patterns and increase the likelihood of extreme weather events.

See here to learn about climate projections for the Central Highlands, Victoria Central Highlands Climate Projections(PDF, 2MB).

What we're doing

Council has been working hard to reduce its own carbon footprint through our Towards Zero Emissions Roadmap(PDF, 587KB), and is now in the process of developing a new Sustainable Hepburn strategyThe Roadmap was delivered between 2017 – 2021 with the goal of reaching net-zero emissions from our own operations by the end of the 2021/22 financial year. Council is in the process of finalising this work and is on track to reach net-zero in 2022! We will need to buy carbon offsets for the emissions that we cannot yet eliminate such as heavy vehicle and fleet emissions, and emissions from gas use. However, we have reduced emissions significantly.

Here are some of the key actions that helped us get there:
  • Renewable electricity - we have eliminated 60% of our emissions from electricity use through the Victorian Energy Collaboration, which saw 46 Victorian Councils bulk buy Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) to procure 100% renewable energy from local projects. We are currently developing a second PPA for the remaining 40% of electricity use.
  • Renewable generation - installation of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on Council facilities.
  • Purchasing electric passenger vehicles, when fit for purpose.
  • Installing electric vehicle chargers.
  • Retrofitting lighting in Council facilities, residential and major road streetlights with energy efficient LEDs.
  • Insulating and draft-proofing Council facilities.
  • Replacing outdated appliances with energy efficient alternatives, and addressing unnecessary energy consumption.
  • Improving sustainable procurement practices.

Pledges

Council has committed to the following external programs, with the intention of showing support for bold and collaborative action on Climate Change:

  • The State Government’s Take2 initiative
  • The Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership
  • CitySwitch Program
  • Hepburn Wind MoU: In 2018, Council and Hepburn Wind, with the support of the Shire’s existing sustainability groups, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This MoU outlined how we would work collaboratively together, through the Z-NET project, to allow Hepburn Shire to become a zero-net emissions shire.