Wanneroo changes investment policy in line with environment stance

Stock Image.
Stock Image.

THE City of Wanneroo will give preference to banks that don’t fund fossil fuel investments, but only if the rate of return is as good.

Wanneroo Council approved a change to its investment policy this week after environmental groups asked the City to avoid fossil fuel investments.

The change said the City would give preference to investments with institutions that have “no current record of funding fossil fuels, providing that doing so will secure a rate of return that is at least equal to alternative offered by other institutions”.

350.org asked the City to consider opportunities to favour investment with banks that do not fund fossil fuel industries.

Environmental charity group 350.org volunteer Jeff Wilson met with Mayor Tracey Roberts last year to discuss the issue, and welcomed news of the City’s amended policy.

Quinns Rocks Environmental Group also raised the issue at the electors AGM in December.

“We are grateful for the leadership of Mayor Tracey Roberts and council’s response to enshrine in policy a preference to invest with institutions that do not fund fossil fuel industries,” Mr Wilson said.

“Of the 29 metropolitan councils, the City of Wanneroo is one of 17 local governments to have taken this significant step.”

Mrs Roberts said she was pleased the council voted unanimously for the policy change, which ultimately aimed to minimise the City’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

“The City of Wanneroo is committed to protecting the environment by minimising impacts of climate change and seeking alternative ways to improve energy efficiency,” she said.

Environment strategy to address issues arising from urbanisation

The change follows the council’s endorsement of the City’s Local Environmental Strategy last month following public consultation.

The March council report said the strategy aimed to address “a range of environmental issues in the face of expanding urbanisation and an ongoing loss of environmental values”.

“It promotes a balance between growth and the protection and enhancement of the natural and built environments,” the report said.

“Overall the submissions have indicated that the strategy has been well received, and that the issues, opportunities and responses identified in the strategy accurately reflect community expectations.”

The strategy said the expansion of the urban footprint would be substantial with the City’s population of more than 200,000 expected to grow to 550,000 by 2070.

“The challenge is that urban expansion will result in the removal of vegetation and encroach on various habitats and natural systems,” it said.

“There is a need to guide and manage land use change so that adverse impacts are minimised.”

The strategy covered caves, flora and fauna, groundwater, wetlands, the coastline and the built environment, including historical land uses.

It said the shift to higher density residential areas, particularly to cater for affordable housing, created issues such as reduced amenity, heat islands, insufficient street canopy cover, smaller gardens and dominant roof scapes.

“Global climate change is projected to continue into the future, and as a result there will be an increase in extreme weather events, erosion of coastal areas, and changes to local climate,” the strategy said.

It said a potential 2.1 degree increase in temperature by 2030 could “lead to impacts on human health, and reduced liveability in areas of the City, increased risk of bushfires and loss of agricultural areas”.

In relation to the Gnangara Mound groundwater supply, the strategy said demand for water was expected to increase due to population growth, more public open spaces and lower rainfall levels.

It said improving urban water resource management could reduce waste water and allow water resources to be allocated to high priority activities.

Submissions call for greater environmental protection

During consultation the City received seven submissions, including from Quinns Rocks Environmental Group which said the responses were inadequate and unlikely to be effective enough.

“Many of the initiatives listed or proposed involve further investigation or preparing further plans or educating the community,” it said.

“We also need to set clear commitments for action.

“Protection of groundwater and wetlands is a key issue in Wanneroo as is the need to reduce water demand through efficiency measures.”

Another submitter said much flora and fauna had been cleared or degraded in the City and planning strategies should protect remaining bushland, particularly banksia woodland and tuart forest.

Others raised concerns about remnant bushland being cleared in east Wanneroo, called for bigger tree canopies and buffer zones around wetlands in their submissions and during public question time at the March meeting.

He said the City’s tree policy ranked exotic species equally with native species, and green linkages should only have the latter “the link becomes one for the use of lorikeets, Cornell as and other non-local birds”.

Residents in east Wanneroo made submissions calling on the City to retain the tree canopy, deal with illegal dumping and provide incentives for people to use solar panels.

Mayor Tracey Roberts said the City had many environmental assets, including coastline, wetlands, bushland and underground water resources.

“The Local Environmental Strategy will enable the City to identify key concerns and improve the quality of natural and built environments in the local area,” she said.

Visit www.wanneroo.wa.gov.au for more information.