13 December 2018

Mayoral Column

A new plan to turn down the heat in Western Sydney has just been released by the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC). Developed in partnership with 55 stakeholder organisations including Hawkesbury City Council, the Turn Down the Heat Strategy and Action Plan is the first comprehensive, multi-sector approach to tackling heat in Western Sydney.

Heat is arguably the greatest natural threat to the Western Sydney community - yet we do not take heat as seriously as we do bushfires, floods or storms.

During a heatwave hospitalisations surge, power bills skyrocket, infrastructure breaks down, and traffic worsens. These impacts are magnified in Western Sydney, where temperatures can be 10 degrees hotter than the city’s East. These impacts are especially felt by our vulnerable communities who may not be able to afford air-conditioning, have limited transport access to seek relief, or have existing medical conditions which are aggravated by heat.

A key objective of this Strategy is to bring people together for a coordinated approach towards mitigating, planning and responding to heat events. The Strategy also seeks to facilitate cooler communities by integrating three key pillars of cool urban design: material choice, greenspace and water. When used together, these mitigations can lower temperatures, cut power bills and reduce pressure on our energy grid. Infrastructure must also be designed to cope with fluctuations in temperature and demand. Community education and preparedness is also critical.

As Mayor of Hawkesbury and WSROC President, I am looking forward to continuing this important work towards a holistic approach to heat in Western Sydney. Together, we can build a cooler, more resilient future for Western Sydney.

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