A CLASH among Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors over climate targets has led to one saying he has been unfairly labelled a “liar”.
Cr Steve Holland, who last week failed in his bid to have the council confirm that it would “not abandon natural gas for heating” in the run up to 2040 Climate Emergency Plan deadline, said: “Since the initial vote four weeks ago which progressed plans to phase out gas in new developments, I’ve been accused of lying, playing politics, scaremongering and spreading misinformation for personal gain.
“[These] smears, from people who play the man and not the ball, are demonstrably false.”
The ruckus involves interpretations of the council’s climate emergency plan which aims for a zero-emissions future by phasing out the use of fossil fuels – including gas – on the peninsula over the next 20 years.
The plan, adopted by the council last year, aims to achieve net zero emissions when the peninsula is “powered by an increase in renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, phasing out gas and improving energy efficiency in our buildings” (“Map stakes out a climate emergency plan” The News 1/9/20).
Cr Holland’s notice of motion called for council “affirm” that it would not support any moves to ban the use of natural gas for heating, hot water and cooking (including barbecues) until “a safe, affordable, efficient and reliable alternative” was available
Cr Holland said his failure to get support from the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor and councillors David Gill, Anthony Marsh, Lisa Dixon, Paul Mercurio, Sarah Race and Kerri McCafferty “confirmed the council’s goal to end the use of natural gas by 2040 … at least now we know the views of individual councillors when it comes to natural gas”.
Cr Holland said he wanted to “make it crystal clear” that the climate emergency plan referred only to shire buildings.
“I know some may say it’s aspirational, but the climate emergency plan is referenced constantly when developing [council] policy, including on 15 June when it was referenced to support [the shire joining the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment] and advocating for net-zero (gas free) new developments,” he said.
“Policy is policy.
“I have been told that the CEP only applies to shire buildings. … If that’s the case then it needs amendment.
“I find the dishonesty and secrecy [here] very disturbing.”
Cr O’Connor told The News that Cr Holland’s stance was “political”.
“We cannot tell people to shut down their natural gas,” she said.
“The climate emergency plan refers to shire buildings only – not private homes – and why would we want to harm the most vulnerable members of the community anyway?
“[Cr Holland] is scaring people for political purposes; he is being divisive.”