Speak out on sustainability

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Precious Plastics Margaret River founder Narelle Kuppers with Shire sustainable economy officer Saul Cresswell.
Camera IconPrecious Plastics Margaret River founder Narelle Kuppers with Shire sustainable economy officer Saul Cresswell. Credit: Supplied

It’s been a long time coming, but residents can now comment on a draft strategy developed by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to bolster the local “sustainable economy”.

Flagged as far back as 2016 under former chief executive Gary Evershed and with an officer position developed to guide the project, the strategy aims to balance livelihoods with environmental consequences, while also “building resilience” into the Shire’s economy.

The strategy was initially identified as an economic strategy, but input from councillors refocused the push towards economic sustainability as well as the frequently cited “circular local economy”.

In announcing the start of community consultation, the Shire pointed to partnerships with the Lower Blackwood Landcare Group, sustainability initiatives at the Margaret River Wine Association, providing a site for the Margaret River Community Pantry and funding to Precious Plastics Margaret River, which is also on the hunt for a permanent base.

“The principle of sustainability is not hard to understand, but putting it into practice is the challenging part,” Shire sustainable economy officer Saul Cresswell said.

“In our part of the world, we are very aware of the relationship between people and the natural environment. Stabilising the relationship between the two is crucial and this strategy is about identifying key actions to help manage our economy into the future with this awareness.”

Shire president Ian Earl said the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted many of the issues the stra-tegy sought to address as part of a chance to “build back better”.

“Our community was hard hit during the height of COVID-19 lockdowns and we’ve all seen first-hand the need to build resilience into our economy,” he said.

“Our region is in an excellent position to be a leader in sustainability. We already put a lot of resources into looking after our community members and our natural environment, so combining these into an economic strategy is real triple-bottom-line thinking.”

He said he believed the strategy would support operators from the tourism, farming and wine sectors to reposition themselves in the years ahead.

Critics, including former Blackwood dairy farmer and Liberal Party candidate Ross Woodhouse said local government and economic development shouldn’t mix.

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