On December 5 2018 the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) launched its plan for dealing with increasing summer temperatures. Members of WSROC include the following local government areas - Parramatta, Fairfield, Blacktown, Penrith, Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains and Lithgow.
The first part of WSROC's media release is printed below.
With another scorching summer on the way, the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has released its plan for cooler, more resilient communities.
Developed in partnership with 55 stakeholder organisations, the Turn Down the Heat Strategy and Action Plan is the first comprehensive, multi-sector approach to tackling heat in Western Sydney.
WSROC President Cr Barry Calvert said “Heat is arguably the greatest natural threat to the Western Sydney community- yet we do not take heat as seriously as we do bushfires, floods or storms.
“During a heatwave hospitalisations surge, power bills skyrocket, infrastructure breaks down, and traffic worsens. These impacts are magnified in Western Sydney, where temperatures can be 10 degrees hotter than the city’s East.
“These impacts are especially felt by our vulnerable communities who may not be able to afford air-conditioning, have limited transport access to seek relief, or have existing medical conditions which are aggravated by heat,” he said.
“The impacts of heat are expected to worsen over the next decade as Western Sydney develops and becomes more densely populated. Without action, 50-degree days could become a regular occurrence in Western Sydney,” said Cr Calvert.
“The good news is there are many things we can do to mitigate and build resilience to heat. Turn Down the Heat identifies five key areas which are crucial for tackling heat. These include:
- Take action, together
- Cool with greenspace and water
- Design and plan to cool the built environment
- Innovative and responsive infrastructure
- Build a community that is healthy and prepared
While there is already some great work being done to address heat, action remains fragmented.
“A key objective of this Strategy is to bring people together for a coordinated approach to mitigating, planning and responding to heat events,” said Cr Calvert.
“The Strategy also seeks to facilitate cooler communities by integrating three key pillars of cool urban design: material choice, greenspace and water. When used together, these mitigations can lower temperatures, cut power bills and reduce pressure on our energy grid,” he said.
“Even so, we will still have hot weather. Infrastructure must be designed to cope with fluctuations in temperature and demand so that water, energy and public transport are available when people need them most,” said Cr Calvert.
“Community education and preparedness is also critical. We must ensure people have the knowledge and resources to manage heat at the local level. This may include making small home modifications, knowing how to look after themselves and others during hot weather,” he said.