By Michael Giles

Korumburra’s Gil Freeman says EVs must be part of the plan.

GROW Lightly director Gil Freeman of Korumburra has put his money where his mouth is when it comes to action on climate change.

He helped initiate a community-based fruit and veggie business where local produce is sourced from growers within a 60km radius of the town.

So has the Bass Coast Shire Council.

According to its ‘Climate Change Action Plan 2020-2030’, endorsed at the August Council meeting last year, the Council has committed to spending $195,000-a-year upgrading its car fleet to electric, also providing $30,000 for a fleet transition plan.

They have other measures as well in the plan, around encouraging business and households to make the switch to EVs, electric vehicles.

The South Gippsland Shire Council, not so much.

At a recent community meeting in Korumburra, facilitated by the Korumburra Business Association, Mr Freeman challenged the shire’s Projects Coordinator Jareth Goss to include EV charging points in the new Korumburra Community Hub precinct development.

Mr Goss said it wasn’t within the scope or costing of the project and beyond that he wasn’t able to comment.

“It’s another opportunity lost,” Mr Freeman said.

The last elected Council, he said, had the chance to adopt a policy on supporting electric vehicles but had failed to do so as part of its long-term plan.

“If we’re not planning to provide recharging points when other regional areas are getting on with it, we’re missing out,” he said.

“I wrote to the last council and said they needed to plan for this, and I got no where and the present council has just continued on with that, leaving up to the next one.

“The State Government wants a pledge from councils on their carbon emissions and this needs to be part of it,” he said.

Asked what South Gippsland was doing to facilitate EVs, the Council’s Sustainability Coordinator Geoff McKinnon said the following:

“There is a Tesla charge station at the Fish Creek Hotel and Leongatha Motel (for guests) and another EV charger is located nearby at the RACV Resort in Inverloch (Bass Coast Shire).”

“Council has not yet made any decision to introduce EV charge stations itself but is supportive of businesses that may consider doing so to enhance or expand their business offering.”

Bass Coast Shire Council CEO, Ali Wastie said Council is supportive of Electric Vehicles (EV) and had installed four EV charging points in Cowes as part of the development of the Cowes Transit Centre and All Day Car Park which was completed in August 2019.

“We are currently undertaking preliminary site investigation to determine potential sites for the expansion of public EV charging infrastructure,” Ms Wastie said this week.

“More recently, Council endorsed the Draft Climate Change Action Plan at the August 2020 Meeting which contains information around what Council plans to do to support local EV charging infrastructure and usage in Bass Coast.

“The Plan will come back to Council for adoption at the May 2021 Meeting.”

The Draft Plan endorsed at the August 2020 Meeting is available on the Bass Coast Council’s website at www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/climateaction.

As part of the plan, Bass Coast aims to:

* Deliver a phased transition to a carbon neutral fleet by upgrading to: 1. Electric passenger vehicles, 2. Energy efficient light commercial vehicles, 3. Electric light commercial vehicles and 4. Biodiesel (or another lower emissions alternative) for heavy vehicles.

* Support the development of appropriate charging infrastructure and encourage EVs by: Reviewing existing EV charge sites and usage; Centralising and sharing charging usage data, barriers and enablers with accommodation providers and other stakeholders; Ensuring Council planning mechanisms minimise barriers for EV charge points in new and existing developments; Delivering a communications campaign tailored to locals and tourists to promote EV travel and charging to and within Bass Coast.

* It will also encourage the uptake of EVs by individuals and business in the shire.