Tony Wellington – what are Noosa’s greatest challenges?

The biggest challenge facing Noosa is the same enormous challenge that faces the planet, and that is climate change. Under my mayoralty, Noosa Council has become a national leader in responding to this challenge. We are the only Queensland Council to declare a climate emergency. We have set a zero emissions target. We have full time Carbon Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation officers. Council’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan and its Coastal Hazards Adaptation Plan are almost complete. We were founding members of the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership which now boasts more than 120 local governments who, collectively, represent more than half of Australia’s entire population. I was awarded the national Ambassador Award by the Cities Power Partnership. We will be hosting a national climate summit in October.

The next big challenge for Noosa is to steer Noosa towards an agreed approach to genuinely sustainable tourism. We need to establish targets and systems to ensure a viable tourism sector that takes into account both the needs of our business sector as well as the lifestyle of residents. That’s why I was instrumental in establishing the Sustainable Tourism Stakeholder Reference Group that has seen 14 key community organisations plus Tourism Noosa and Council all grappling with this issue.

We also need to transition towards improved, sustainable transport solutions. This requires participation with the State Government who have a monopoly control of public transport across Noosa. Council is already working with the State and key stakeholders towards an internal electric bus service. But we also need to adapt to rapidly changing technology across both private and public transport. This will inevitably keep Council on its proverbial toes.

There are, of course, many other challenges ahead: making the shire more fire prepared including new approaches to hazard reduction; further improving Council’s ability to communicate with residents; embedding the new planning scheme and the benefits it delivers to local businesses; reversing the plummeting biodiversity in the Noosa River, to name but a few.I firmly believe that Noosa Shire can be a global exemplar in sustainable living.

(Q&A courtesy of Residents for Noosa Facebook Group)

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