By Scott Willis
The DCC decision on the BRCT funding application to pilot a Community Energy Advisory service is still pending, as I write. The BRCT office needs a good (though late) spring-cleaning, after all the recent activity in the energy area, particularly. This is always a hectic time of the year though, and BRCT will meet in December to set strategic direction again for the 2012–2015 period.
One thing on the table for 2012 is a workshop for sustainability/transition groups in Blueskin, to try to see if there are any challenges and solutions within the great variety of dynamic initiatives underway. Time is short for solving the problems we all face collectively and yet it's worth pausing a moment to celebrate the community energy to 'get things done' – the days are long gone when it's a small group of 'all the same people'. Much has happened since the early days – we've all grown and systems have evolved, we've developed experience, ways of working, encountered problems and experienced the joys of success.
Coming up also in December I will be attending a meeting of Climate Change hubs in Wellington and I'll take that opportunity to have a range of meetings to further Blueskin Energy Project ambitions and shore up national networks to enhance BRCT actions.
Meanwhile, if you're aiming for some high AND low carbon, engaged summer action away from Blueskin Bay, why not head along to the 'Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival' in Mataura, 20 -23 January? (see: http://nocoalsummerfest.org.nz/).
Now, some more detail on the Draft Spatial Plan. Copies of the plan and the summary document are available at our local library, the DCC and online at www.dunedin.govt.nz/consultation/spatialplan. I also have some copies of the summary in the BRCT office (please come after 3pm – best day Friday).
Strong elements? The challenges of climate change, peak oil and natural hazards have been clearly identified. The preferred option for future planning is "Distributed Development" which essentially recognises the different character and values of distinct communities to enable more holistic planning. That could mean local provisioning of energy (BEP action), low carbon transport systems (Blueskin Low Oil Commuting, W3, walking and cycling groups, Get-The-Train), local food production (Weggies, Waitati Open Orchards, local growers) and other things. It will mean we plan to evacuate low-lying areas over time and certainly stop building in flood zones. It will mean we build up the local economy (rezoning, allowing more appropriate scale business activity) and ensure we have the infrastructure to ensure quality of life for people in our communities. A sobering article in the Guardian really underlines why we must plan for a low carbon future (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/09/fossil-fuel-infrastructure-climate-change).
In it, the International Energy Agency, a very conservative body, argues that if we don't change our energy infrastructure within the next five years, we'll lose 'for ever' the opportunity to stop runaway climate change. In relation to the spatial plan, the long-term plan and the city's economic development, it means we must stop courting oil exploration companies (old fossil fuel industry) and redirect city funding and resources towards clean technology. Only by ending subsidies to fossil fuel can we hope to build a positive future for our children.
The BRCT's office number is 482 2048 and BRCT trustees and officers are Lynnaire Johnston, PJ Clarke, Antony Deaker, Ross Johnston, Tony Wilson, Gerry Carrington and Chris Skellett, with Jeanette Fitzsimons as the trust's patron. You can find out more about the trust at: http://www.blueskinpower.co.nz/