Just when we thought the government didn’t care about strata they come up with a pre-election announcement designed to raise the high-rise feelgood factor.
According to this story in the Sydney Morning Herald, if re-relected, the government will make it easier for strata schemes to install solar energy to their buildings. This includes solar panels, batteries and charging points for electric cars.
So, does this mean more grants for solar panels and, more significantly, batteries?
Errr.. no. All it means is that we’ll no have to get the support of 75 per cent of people voting at a general meeting to install solar. In future it will only need 50 per cent.
And, while it’s a step in the right direction, I’m not aware of any strata schemes where a push for solar is being thwarted by a recalcitrant 25 percent of climate deniers (although I’m sure, like levy dodgers and deadbeat committees, they exist).
The policy seems pretty vague at the moment and you suspect that, given it was announced by the Premier and not our Better Regulation Minister, it’s got more to do with Saturday’s election than either strata or, for that matter, the environment.
We should not be too cynical. Contrary to widespread opinion, apartment blocks are a lot less environmentally sustainable than free-standing homes.
Lifts, common property lighting, air conditioning and the fact that you have to pump water to higher floors all contribute to our collective carbon footprint. So making it easier for apartment blocks to install solar makes a lot of sense.
It’s just a shame it wasn’t that easy to keep energy-guzzling holiday rentals out of our buildings. More lift journeys and water use is a cost all the owners as well as the environment has to pay. But back to the election promise.
“We are lowering the voting threshold from 75 to 50 per cent to more easily install solar panels, battery storage and electric vehicle charging points in strata buildings,” Ms Berejiklian told the SMH.
Meanwhile energy Minister Don Harwin said a re-elected Coalition government would commit to “clean, reliable and affordable” energy across the state.
“The NSW Liberals and Nationals already have a firm commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and these new, practical initiatives will help to further that ambition,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Purely coincidentally recent polls in the Herald show that climate change is a key election issue for most people in NSW, and is a more pressing concern for voters than hospitals, schools and public transport.