GREENER SHADE OF CITY COUNCIL
By MICHELLE DAY
COFFS HARBOUR City Council gave renewable energy the green light at Thursday's general council meeting, but how they would fund the initiative was a matter of contention.
Renewable energy will be sourced for all of council's future electricity needs, cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent.
Cr Ian Ovens said it was now widely accepted that greenhouse gas emissions have a direct impact on our environment, most noticeably through changed weather patterns.
"By only buying green energy we are playing our part in the global challenge to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which has to be a number one priority," he said.
"With the implementation of this further step towards sustainability Coffs Harbour will be one of the most greenhouse-friendly cities in Australia and, in fact, the world."
Councillors agreed and voted to adopt a policy of buying 100 per cent 'Forever Green' power from Country Energy for its facilities and preventing 15,516 tonnes of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere annually.
But they couldn't all agree on which funding bucket would foot the annual bill of $129,201.
Cr Ian Ovens argued that the environmental levy should fund what was, essentially, an environmentally-friendly initiative.
However Cr Jenny Bonfield objected and argued that the levy wasn't designed to fund initiatives like green energy, which council should be doing as part of general operations.
"To me, the environmental levy was for projects over and above the general operation of council."
Cr Gavin Smithers said Forever Green costs would cripple the community's ability to access the environmental levy.
"I strongly recommend the money be taken from various other council funds," he said.
After some lively debate and several amendments to the motion, council voted that the money should come from the environmental levy, but that council's staff review other sources of funding to assist the levy.
A division was recorded to note that Crs Bonfield, Smithers and Palmer voted against the motion.