Consultation on Urban Heat Island effect Action Plan in Moreland
Moreland Council have been working on developing a policy on mitigating the urban heat island effect. This is when temperatures warm up much more in urban areas due to all the buildings and roads, than rural areas. Climate change is causing temperatures to rise, and also causing earlier and more intense heat waves to occurr. Climate change also amplifies the urban heat island effect.
Moderation of urban heat island effect temperatures by even a few degrees can reduce substantial health impacts and improve comfort for residents in extreme heat conditions. Every year hundreds of ambulance callouts are made for people suffering heat related medical conditions. More people die during extreme heat events than for any other disaster, including bushfires. A 2014 report found that Melbourne, of all Australia’s cities, had the highest annual average number of heat-related deaths, with about 200 a year, according to the Age.
Research has shown that Moreland has a high social vulnerability index to extreme heat already, based upon demographic and social factors.
Moreland Council is conducting a community consultation in regard to the draft Urban Heat Island effect action plan on Tuesday 22 March 2016, 6 pm – 8 pm at Coburg Town Hall foyer, 90 Bell Street, Coburg. You can Register your attendance and download and read the draft plan. The draft action plan was approved for community consultation at Council’s February 2016 meeting with the intention of formal presentation of the final draft in April 2016 followed by formal endorsement in June 2016.
Thermal imagery of the municipality shows the extent of the problem (see imagery above).
It is not easy reducing these temperatures. The easiest method is through increasing the number of trees that provide shade to buildings and streets. But this is complex as some residents don’t like street trees, and there are advantages and disadvantages to exotic species (which often provide more canopy cover) and native species (more drought tolerant). Moreland Council already has an urban forestry policy with a commitment to planting 5000 new trees a year.
Cool pavement technologies can also be used, but these are only just starting to be explored and tested.
A Heatwave response strategy is already in place
Planning and Building regulations also need to be addressed and this really needs the involvement of State and Federal levels of Government for aspects of the plan.
Climate change is hitting us now with extreme heat impacts and we need to adapt to these events. The urban heat island action plan shows Moreland Council is proactive, in fact it is taking a leading stance on this issue in Australia. It is an adaptation to the complex problem of climate change. This adaptation is vital, but we also need strong action to reduce Australian emissions and rapidly transition to renewables: action that needs to be primarily driven at the Federal and State levels.
UHI Action Plan
This UHIE Action Plan focuses on Council actions addressing infrastructure responses i.e. change in building materials, vegetation cover and water sensitive urban design (WSUD) to directly reduce the amount of heat absorbed into the landscape and to improve its cooling capacity.
This Action Plan also includes initiatives to engage with the community. By building awareness in the community the aim is to activate community wide actions to reduce and respond to the UHIE. This combined with actions from all levels of government and partnering with key stakeholders can affect broad scale change across the municipality.
Based upon thermal imaging, social vulnerability and where people live and congregate priority areas to focus on have been determined.
Moreland’s UHI Priority Areas
According to the draft plan, five priority areas have been identified and mapped in the study of Moreland’s urban heat island vulnerabilities and priorities. The five priority areas are:
Priority Area 1: The North Social vulnerability. Priority Area 1 includes the suburbs of Gowanbrae, Glenroy, Hadfield and Fawkner, including properties close to the Western Ring Road. Locations for public housing are also shown.
Priority Area 2: Activity Centres. Priority Area 2 includes the three largest Activity Centres in the municipality i.e. Coburg, Brunswick and Glenroy Activity Centres.
Priority Area 3: Neighbourhood Centres. Priority Area 3 includes Neighbourhood / suburban shopping strips in hotspots.
Priority Area 4: Shows all socially vulnerable (SV) streets in hotspots i.e. streets where people are less able to protect themselves from extreme heat events. Socially vulnerable areas have been identified based on their diversity and density of vulnerability. Young children, older persons living alone, those who aren’t fluent in English, public housing tenants, and the socio-economically disadvantaged are considered socially vulnerable. Schools, childcare centres and kindergartens have also been included as potential areas of vulnerability.
Priority Area 5: Major industrial areas. Priority 5 Area includes the major employment and industrial areas in Brunswick, North Coburg and Newlands.
“The priority areas cover large geographical areas and a range of built form types within the municipality in both public and private space. The above information underpins Council’s approach in defining “vulnerable areas” which have been determined based on priority areas and hotspots. With appropriate interventions these areas can have significant heat reduction benefits. Measures to address the UHIE for these priority areas are detailed in Section 6. Addressing the priority areas requires a whole of Council and community response to achieve genuine long-term protection against the UHIE” says the draft plan.
Visit the Moreland website or download the Draft Uban Heat Island effect action plan below:
20160210-Moreland-draft-urban-heat-island-effect-action-plan (2.5MB Word doc)