Byron Bay is aiming to reach a “net zero emissions” target that will see it become the first regional shire to achieve that goal, as the northern rivers area of NSW continues its ground-breaking push into renewables and new energy models.
An announcement is set for Monday, but the idea was discussed by Mayor Simon Richardson and Beyond Zero Emissions head Stephen Bygrave on the mayor’s Friday morning radio show.
Basically it will take a blue-print from BZE and apply it to energy consumption, land use, waste, agriculture, transport and forestry. It is expected to result in a significant increase in renewable energy, particularly solar, and the introduction of electric vehicle infrastructure.
Byron Bay is already at the heart of a proposed community energy retailer, known as Northern Rivers Energy, which is seeking to set up a new, renewable energy-focused model in what will be the first of its type in Australia. NRE is hoping to deliver its first sales in July.
Byron Bay is also looking at trialling other concepts, such as peer-to-peer trading, where owners of rooftop solar arrays – be they residential or commercial – can sell the output to others.
NRE is also including the Tweed area, Lismore and Ballina. The neighbouring Lismore regional council has already committed to being 100 per cent renewable by 2023, and on Monday the Labor government will also announce further funding for the Farming the Sun initiative, which is underpinning solar developments in the Lismore shire to help it reach its 100 per cent renewable initiative.
The Coalition government is also supporting an initiative to make Uralla, also in northern NSW, the first zero net energy town in Australia. Consultants were recently in the town to help finalise the plans.
On Tuesday, the Lismore City Council will vote on whether to stop investing its funds in financial institutions that back fossil fuels. Councilor Simon Clough has lodged notice of a motion that calls on the council to give preference to institutions that do not invest in or finance fossil fuels.