Podcast 96: Pets, rents and new age steam trains

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People who don’t care about pets in apartments shouldn’t switch off just yet, regardless of how bored you are with the whole issue.

It has implications for everyone in apartments, whether you have pets or not, as you may discover when your upstairs neighbour starts stomping around on their new, cheap timber floor.

Letting ourselves off the leash this week, we also explore why Sydney’s rents are going down a lot in some areas but up even more in others.


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And we look at the fuel of the future and ask why we aren’t pumping money itnto its development right now.

But first we ask strata lawyer David Sachs of Sachs Gerace Lawyers, what are the far-reaching consequences of the Appeals Court decision last week in the case between Jo Cooper and the Owners Corporation of the Horizon building in Sydney – that have nothing to do with pets.

Basically speaking, the NSW Court of Appeal ruled that Owners Corporations can’t pass by-laws about what an owner does or has in their apartment if it doesn’t impact on other owners’ right to peaceful enjoyment of their lot.

More to the point, there are remedies in strata law to pull owners into line if they get it wrong so pre-emptive by-laws that assume the worst are considered “harsh, discriminatory and unconscionable” and therefore invalid. What does that mean for other by-laws? We ask David the following questions in our podcast chat this week:

  • Does the Court of Appeal ruling mean all no-pet bylaws are now defunct?
  • Can buildings still impose restrictions on the type and size of pets?
  • Can they ban pets from common property?
  • Can they require owners to carry pets across common property?
  • What implications does the ruling have for other by-laws?
  • Will we expect more issues to be taken to NCAT e.g. when pets turn out to be a nuisance?
  • Is NCAT up to handling an increased load of (predictably) emotional and contentious cases.
  • Will the definition of “nuisance” need to be redefined in the current review of strata law.

David’s answers are authoritative and enlightening and he also takes time to support the people we routinely lambast in these pages – the NCAT Members who sit in judgement on our trails and tribulations.

After that, Sue gives us a roundup of the areas of Sydney that are winning and losing on the rental roller-coaster … and why.

And Jimmy is talking trains that produce steam but run on an altogether cleaner fuel than coal.

The Podcast transcribed

Jimmy and Sue’s dulcet tones transcribed for those who can’t or prefer not to listen. They are joined by strata lawyer David Sachs.

Be warned: This was transcribed by a soul-less American computer and edited by a grumpy Scot. But it still makes more sense than a Donald Trump diatribe.

Jimmy  00:00

Got a post on the Flat Chat Forum this week from Jo Cooper … name ring a bell?

Sue  00:09

The owner of Angus, the now-legal dog in the Horizon building, and it’s a Schnauzer.

Jimmy  00:14

Yep, and basically, she was writing to tell me that I’m wrong. Because I said that there should be apartment blocks that people can go to. Even though I’m pro-pet, I believe that there should be apartment blocks that people can go and live in, who really don’t want to live in the same building as pets.

She said you can’t have that. Because buildings have to allow support animals like guide dogs. And the law says you can’t forbid them. So all it takes is one person to bring in a support animal and that whole argument about people’s health and allergies and things goes out the window.

Anyway, so it’s been pets, pets, pets all week ever since that ruling at the Appeals Court. So this week, we have a special guest, David Sachs from Sachs Gerace Lawyers, who has a pretty interesting take on what that appeal court decision means not just about pets, but about by-laws in general.

I’m Jimmy Thomson.

Sue

And I’m Sue Williams …

Jimmy

And this is the Flat Chat Wrap.

[MUSIC]

Pet Ruling Unpacked

Jimmy  01:35

As I said before, this week, we’re joined by David Sachs of Sachs Gerace Lawyers, who are one of our sponsors, and he is going to explain what he thinks the implications are of the Appeal Court decision to basically wipe out no-pet by-laws. Now, this is done on zoom, as usual. So we have the full range of sound effects in the background from creaky table to sirens, one of the joys of recording in a back bedroom in Kings Cross. Here’s David Sachs.

David  02:10

Hi, Jimmy. Hi, Sue.

Jimmy  02:14

So this Court of Appeal ruling, it’s got everybody in, a tizz; fur and feathers are flying everywhere. Does it mean that all the no-pet by-laws in New South Wales are now effectively defunct?

David  02:29

I think it does.

Jimmy

Right. So even if the by-laws still exists, if somebody gets a notice to comply…  they don’t even have to turn up at NCAT, do they?

David

Well, in the end, the by-laws exist in the scheme, so long as they are registered. And the process that was followed by the Coopers was a process to have a bylaw declared invalid, and they will remove it from the register or by-laws of the scheme. So that process formally needs to be taken. But by-laws are either actually invalid, or invalid pending an order that they be removed from the register.

Jimmy  03:13

Right.

Sue  03:14

And that’s all the other buildings which have blanket bans on by-laws, they’re going to have to tear up their by-laws as well. So can buildings still impose restrictions on the type and size of pet?

David  03:24

They can. I think that what we what we learn from this judgment is that there are really two ways of looking at the problem. One is looking at the by-law making power. And that is the notice corporation can make by-laws that regulate the way in which a lot is used. And in this case, a lot is used to keep a pet but only to the extent that it is connected to the management administration control or use of the lot. And they use that as a plural … the common property. And that’s why the judgment was talking about the way in which the it has to be it has to be to materially benefit or to not to materially derogate from the rights of other law owners to enjoy their lots or the common property.

Jimmy

Right.

David

So that’s one part of it. And that’s the thing that has a broad application … about the bylaw making power. So to answer your question specifically, yes, they can make a bylaw that regulates the way pets are allowed to be on the parcel, but provided that it is connected in a material way to the use by other lot owners of the lot property or the common property.

Sue  04:44

Okay, so buildings who really don’t want pets couldn’t say will only allow dogs the size of mice that meow or something like that. So they couldn’t completely outlaw them in a backdoor kind of way.

David  04:56

 and likewise, I guess a thing that might obviously come to mind is to say, well, we’re not banning pets being in lot property. And we’re only going to ban pets being in common property. And that’s exactly the sort of thing that’s in section 136, which is the bylaw making power provision of the Strata Schemes Management Act, as I said, we’re only banning it on common property, and we can make by-laws about common property.

So yep, you can have a pet in your lot, but you cannot have it on common property. So you couldn’t bring it in or you can’t come into the lift or use the stairwells or any of the other access bits. I mean, that would be a cutesy way of attempting to deal with it.

But we do know from other cases … where the Owners Corporation cannot prevent the common property being used by a lot owners to be able to have reasonable use and enjoyment and access to their lots, right?

You can’t build a wall… in a corridor of common property to prevent someone having their access to the lot, you can’t prevent someone for bringing a pet onto the common property to hold it lawfully in their apartment. I think that’s the lesson from that case, at least as it applies to this particular instance, we’re talking about here.

Jimmy  06:10

So for instance, owners, corporations could say you can’t let your dog or your cat run around on common property, but they couldn’t say you may not pass through common property with your cat or dog, if you’re taking them to the vet or taking them for a walk or something

Sue  06:26

Carrying them in your arms.

David  06:28

Well, correct. But there’s another bit of legislation called the companion animals act that does regulate the way in which animals are kept in public. And so an Owners Corporation could have some a bylaw, that was an adaptation of those controls like having a pet on a lead or requiring a pet to be muzzled or not having a dog that’s classified as a dangerous dog or prohibited dog or that only people over the age of 16 would be in effective control of a dog or etc.

I mean, there’s a myriad uses, and anyone who has a dog, and it will know about … rules relating to leash-free areas and leash-on areas, that sort of stuff. I think that is entirely appropriate.

And to use the language of the Court of Appeal, it’s in keeping with community standards for the way in which responsible dog owners or pet owners deal with their pets.

Sue  07:21

I remember one strata kind of put a weight limit on the dogs that were allowed, or on the size of the dog…the height of the dog.  And another strata said … we’ll allow any dog that you can actually carry for five meters on common property. And anybody can carry even a huge dog just for five meters if they’re determined enough. So didn’t really kind of work for some people, either.

David  07:48

I kind of feel for people who have to administer these things, because someone’s got to sit on the committee, and someone’s got to deal with all of these things. I don’t know how many pet applications are in the Horizon, or the Elan, or any of these other large schemes that are famous for dealing with no-pets by-laws.

But it wouldn’t surprise me if they were dealing with 20 to 30 applications to keep pets and every year? Well, it’s a pretty fair burden, because it’s not just a decision that you can make in two minutes. There’s lots of information to assimilate.

And there are people who have to do that in amongst all of the other things that they need to do, and one of the criticisms, but one of the justifications for the [original appeal] in the Cooper case was that a no-pets by-law was administratively simple but the Court of Appeal said that is can never be a relevant factor.

But anyone who’s dealt with strata and has actually participated in and done it knows that that is, in fact, a relevant factor that people’s life in Australia, very much so.

Jimmy

It seems to me that the responsibility for these things has shifted with this ruling from the owners corporation to the tribunal, in terms of what is fair and reasonable and what is a nuisance and what isn’t, is that fair to say?

David

Yes, I really think so. And I think it’s right that it will put a heavy burden on the tribunal. And then people in my position as well who are dealing at the front line with a lot owners who’ve got grievances about the operation of by-laws and how they’re being treated … in strata, because these issues, along with some other issues that are endemic to strata schemes often elicit very strong feelings and people develop issues of principles surrounding them, and they’re prepared to devote significant resources to these cases.

The apocryphal story is that there was $500,000 spent by the Coopers on this case, I mean, that’s it. An enormous sums of money for any bit of political litigation, let alone you know something concerning a pet.

Jimmy  10:05

Absolutely.

Sue  10:06

And what implications does the ruling have for other by-laws, like on Airbnb, short term letting or any other by-law?

David  10:14

Well in a way, putting to one side, section 137A of the Strata Schemes Management Act, which … authorizes the making of the by-laws surrounding them about are they and they will short term letting you would think that if you start with the ordinary rights of the owner of a freehold parcel in a strata scheme, one of those things would include that they’re able to invite anybody they wish to come onto their property, provided they do so for a lawful reason, and in keeping with planning laws.

Unless people can show that having airbnb meant that that had a material impact on a lot owners or their use of common property.

I think that that a bylaw like that or anything that went beyond 137 A, and there are plenty of them, because in the day, lots of people were making anti Airbnb by-laws that weren’t limited to 137A limitations. But those things would fall foul as well. I mean, I can invite my brother with his five kids over to my house or apartment if I want and allow them to use the pool. What difference does it make? I can even have my brother and his kids and they can come and stay. Could you make a bylaw that limits people to having not no more than two people staying in a room? I’ve certainly seen those sorts of by-laws around that are restricting it.

Jimmy  11:48

 Well, that’s in the act covering overcrowding…?

David  11:53

You get those sorts of things. But sometimes these by-laws go beyond that, because people want to do things in a different way, or they’ve got particular requirements. And then if you’ve got parts that are invalid… we’re taking on an Airbnb bylaw for somebody in a well known part of Sydney, that has a lot of strata in it and doing that. And this case, is grist for that mill. And likewise, with hard flooring, because hard flooring creates a lot of conflict in strata. And you might well say that it’s part and parcel of someone’s right as a freehold property owner to choose the way in which they decorate their apartment.

Jimmy  12:36

Well, flooring’s a case in point, isn’t it? Because I’ve speculated somewhere I can’t remember where that where you’ve got a bylaw that specifies you must have 11 millimeter thick Regupol under a timber floor, you can’t do that anymore, because I could turn around and say, well, I’ve got this other product, which is just as good. And you can’t force me to use a different product that’s more expensive. Is that likely, is it the kind of thing that could happen?

David  13:06

Indeed. And you’ve got these other standards floating around, like the building code of Australia is only talking about 62 dBA is as a standard noise separation requirement, and then we’ve seen other decisions of the tribunal that say in strata, it should be 55 dBA. But there are there are plenty of by-laws out there that go as low as 40 dBA. Right, you’d say, how could a bylaw like that be valid when it’s so disconnected from Australian standards, which may well be community standards?

Jimmy  13:42

Right. Just to go back briefly, onto my hobbyhorse, which is Airbnb. I’ve been told recently that the… act it says that people may live their apartments, if it is their principal place of residence. So this is to get past the empty apartment thing of people just buying apartments specifically to run Airbnb in it. But people are saying, well, if you stay in your apartment four or five nights a week, and then let it out over weekends, it’s still your principal place of residence. Does that stand up?

David  14:20

I think so. I think this principal place of residence is something that just it’s a one of those terms that is sort of dotted throughout the law, like … the Tax Act. And then you see it in civil procedure to do with security for costs and lots of other things there about where it’s someone’s principal place of residence.

Now, I don’t know maybe I should know this exactly. But I sort of thought that if someone lived overseas, and also lived in Australia that, provided they lived in Australia for more than six months of the year, then Australia was considered to be their principal place of residence.  

So in our case, you might say if you were drawing an analogy from that way of thinking to the apartment that you could say it’s their principal place of residence if they spend more than 50% of their time in that apartment. So, to pick up your example, then it is their principal place of residence. And otherwise they’re on holidays, or at their weekender, whatever it might be.

Sue  15:23

So David, we still waiting to see whether the Horizon is likely to appeal this ruling in the High Court of Australia. There’s also the chance that it could be discussed in the upcoming strata law review as well. What do you think’s the most likely,

David  15:40

Hard to tell … the High Court has to give special leave and they looking at criteria about whether it’s a particular importance as a as a legal issue that … deserves their particular attention. And then they need to be satisfied that the Court of Appeal decision is manifestly wrong. And I just don’t think that it would fit into the second category.

And one of the problems with the first category is, we’re really just talking about a bit of legislation that exists in New South Wales. So it might bleed into the way in which other states deal with these things, but they don’t have exactly the same terminology and their legislation and so on I suspect that … the High Court probably wouldn’t grant special leave, if only because it’s a sort of a statutory thing. And really, it’s a matter for the parliament to change it if they want to change it.

Sue  16:38

Okay, because it’s presumably quite expensive to go to the High Court, isn’t it?

David  16:42

Of course. I mean, it tends to deal with discrete issues. But once you get to these appeal levels, you’re dealing with questions of law. And but  hey involve lawyers, but they’re not sort of a big expensive part of litigation, which is a lot of facts and experts, and it would be cheaper than dealing with a defect claim but more expensive than other disputes as well.

Sue  17:05

Okay, well, that’s not much comfort really

David  17:07

I don’t know what the parliaments doing, because we’ve all seen this other annoying anomaly about whether our tribunal has the power to award damages for an owners corporations failure to repair and maintain common property where you’ve had the appeal panel saying, Yes, they’ve got the power to award damages to an unlimited amount.

And then there were all these decisions made where people were awarded damages against owners corps, the water leaking, and taking away their rent and ruining their carpet, etc. And then we get a decision that says, No, they don’t have the power to award those damages.

Well, that’s been going on for the best part of two years. And [as for] the parliament, the question is, does the dispute resolution provisions in the Strata Schemes Management Act extend to awarding damages?

Well, the parliament hasn’t chosen to look at that and say NCAT can award damages for an strata corps failure to repair and maintain common property. So strata schemes have to deal with the litigation and the tribunals. And courts have to deal with it as well.

Jimmy  18:15

Do we do you think this is an opportunity for the government to kind of redefine all these things when it comes to the tribunal? Because one of the great disconnects in strata is, you know, that you first of all, you trot along to Fair Trading … looking for mediation, which for a lot of people is just a box ticking exercise, so they can go to the tribunal. And then you get to the tribunal and find that they’re just not equipped to deal with the questions that you’re asking them, either because of the way the law is set up, or because of the caliber of people sitting on the bench.

David  18:54

You won’t get any criticism from me of the caliber of people sitting on the bench.

Jimmy  I suspected I might not.

David 19:01

There’s some really good people there. And I think you’d only have to put yourself in the position of what they actually have to deal with in each round of disputes. They’re not just dealing with one-off cases, they’re dealing with these things every day. And they’re dealing with them at the sharp end of all sorts of people actually arguing their cases with their evidence. And these are represented people and unrepresented people like all sorts of things, people with ludicrous claims, people with justifiable grievances.

I mean, there’s an enormous amount of this stuff in strata … and I just don’t know what you would do to the tribunal to make the job easier for those people to be able to manage it. They have a pretty broad jurisdiction down there.

Jimmy

I think we’re missing in the old days. It used to be that a lot of disputes were, first of all adjudicated on paper; you put the documents and then to CTTT and somebody went through them and said,  you’ve got a case or no, you don’t. But that was deeply flawed in itself, because it became an exercise in how good you were at filling in documents and forms.

But now we seem to have this thing, as you say, that the whole tribunal system is swamped with everything that is as fundamental as this, which is law-changing in a way, and things that are just trivial and people who just want to be a nuisance to their Owners Corporation, I just feel there should be something in between. And I really think this is an opportunity for the government to say, let’s have a look at the whole system and see what’s working. See what isn’t working.

David  20:38

It might well be that probably the best judge of that will be people within the tribunal itself,  about how they deal with, I just get an enormous number of claims they have they have all sorts of things. And it’s it’s uncontrolled, even the right about having leave to be legally represented. I mean, does it help the case that they bring in lawyers? Or does it help the case that they don’t have lawyers?

Jimmy  21:07

I suppose it depends on the lawyer.

David  21:10

But you can you can argue that either way about what’s the role of the tribunal when they’re dealing with unrepresented people, you have to sort of shepherd people through the system and make sure that they’re getting due process and that all of the relevant issues are brought forward. And people are given the opportunity to put forward evidence in an appropriate way. It’s quite, it’s burdensome the pressure on these people.  They’re the ones who bear the burden of having to make a decision.

Look, I’m not going to be an apologist for both sides. But it’s not an easy job. And they are charged with the responsibility of doing it. And I have to deal with all of these people when it’s not always easy to do.

I don’t know what the answer to it is … whenever we’re looking at problems, often when we’re looking at things that don’t work. And when we look at things that don’t work, it means that we’re not looking at all the other things that do work. And so sometimes the things that don’t work can be a very small proportion of the stuff that actually does work.

I think, by and large, my attitude is that by and large, the tribunal does work in no small measure to the way in which the procedures they operate. Yes, sure they get decisions wrong. That happens from time to time. And that’s the way it is, but that’s why they have appeals. And that’s why people can go to the Court of Appeal if they need to introduce another layer. No, I’m not really sure whether it’s an adjudication … or a variation on that is actually going to work or whether it’s going to be more trouble than it’s worth.

Jimmy

It’s interesting, in the case of the pet by-laws, the original members of NCAT got it right. They said the by-law couldn’t stand. The appeals board said no, no, no the by-law was fine. Then when it went to the Court of Appeal, they said that the original decision was correct. So it must be … difficult for these guys and women to do the right thing when the law seems to be so grey in so many areas.  

David

Well, look, the original decision maker in the Cooper case was Greg Burton SC … he’s a very experienced Senior Counsel who’s run some really important cases when he was at the Bar. I consider him to be a highly intelligent man. So he’s very able. And then the people on the appeal panel … these people are not lightweights. The opposite, in fact.

Jimmy  23:37

 Well, look, it’s all so grist to the mill. And it’s all fun and games until somebody loses their pet. Thank you very much for talking to us today. David. It’s always good to get an expert opinion on these things. Thank you.

David

My pleasure.

Sue  23:54

Did you say expert?

Jimmy

eExpert. I don’t use an ex-pet.  David promised to bring his dog today. But I think the the dog has been scared off by the creaky table.

David

That’s right.

Jimmy  That’s great. Thank you very much, David.

Sue  24:12

Thanks, David.

David

Thank you. Bye, bye.

[STING]

24:16

Jimmy

I’m beginning to wonder if they’re gonna appeal to the High Court in Canberra.

Sue  24:22

It’s hard, isn’t it? Because it is very expensive, as he said to appeal to the High Court.

Jimmy  24:28

 and there’s a lot riding on it.  And there is there’s a body of opinion that is determined that owners corporations should be allowed to make rules that are accepted by the majority by the vast majority of owners in the building. I mean, 75% of people who turn up for a vote, I think, just as much as there was some crowdfunding around to support Jo Cooper when she went to the Court of Appeal. There may be just as much around for people, not so much on pets … I think it’s broadened out now. But I think people are saying no, we have to be able to set the standards for our own buildings.

Sue  25:11

Yep, that’s right. So and I think the Owners Corporation Network, the peak body for apartment owners, is certainly taking that stand as well. They’re saying it’s really important to be able to have democracy in strata buildings where they can decide what they want, how they want their buildings to be run. It’s a really difficult question

Jimmy  25:28

It isn’t about pets and no pets? It’s about by-laws, or do you just look at strata law? I mean, we use as an example, the question of insulating floors, can you say to people, you must use 11 millimeter Regupol, and this kind of timber? And other people are going to say, well, look, you’ve got a law in there that says, You must not interfere or disrupt the peaceful enjoyment of another owners apartment, that’s all you need. You don’t need to tell people what kind of flooring they got to put down. You just have to be prepared to pursue them if the flooring they put down causes a nuisance, but we know that can be a really difficult area. I don’t think Fair Trading or the tribunal are geared up to have every building’s question of every apartment’s decision on flooring or laundry or whatever decided on a case by case basis?

Sue  26:29

No,of course not. But whether the owners who’ve paid out a lot of money on these kind of issues, have got the stomach to pay out more money on more court cases, is another question. Really, there’s a point at which they’re probably saying, let’s just get on with it and just accept the court’s decision. And just see how it works out in practice.

Jimmy  26:49

And what is happening at the moment is that there is a review of strata law underway. And that’s where it should be happening.

Sue  26:59

Because maybe that’s where it will happen as well. Because there may be a groundswell of support.  people who say no, we want to shore up strata democracy. And the government may agree to that.

Jimmy  27:11

And I think that’s probably the most hopeful thing, because people throwing money at lawyers, even nice lawyers, like David Sachs, is not the best way to resolve anything. I get amused, greatly amused when people come in on the flat chat forum and say, well, I’ve spoken to a lawyer, and he says, blah, blah, blah. And I always reply,  I could find 10 lawyers who would disagree with you. And who knows who’s right, who’s wrong?

Sue

That’s the same thing, isn’t it? If you have more than one clock, you never really quite know the time. That’s how if you have more than one lawyer, you never quite know how the law should be interpreted, right.

Jimmy

And if somebody hires a lawyer to come up against you, and you hire a different lawyer, your lawyer is going to probably tell you different stories.  That’s why they only offer opinions, and they never offer advice. Right. after this break, we are going to have our Hey Marthas for this week.

Rental Surpises

Jimmy  28:18

And we’re back. What have you got this week, Sue? What’s caught your attention?

Sue  28:22

Well, I did a story this week for domain on apartment rents, mostly in Sydney. And it was interesting to see the results. Sydney is really fragmented in terms of rents, some rents have really gone up, some rents have gone down, most rents have gone down really because of Covid-19, as we know, but there are some areas where rents have actually gone up, and sometimes quite significantly.

So places like on the coast, Dover Heights, and the Northern Beaches. And the idea is that people now realize that they can work from home quite successfully. So rather than live in the city, they can go and rent an apartment or a house on the coast and work from there. So rents are really going up.

Often owners aren’t putting them on Airbnb anymore. They might be having them for themselves because they can’t go overseas. So they going there for their holidays and for their weekends. Right. So suddenly, there are lots of places in high demand.

Jimmy  29:30

And that Airbnb thing that you said, that’s putting a lot of multi room houses up for single tenants

Sue  29:33

But then the opposite is true for the city. And some areas of the city, like really nice areas like Millers Point, which is just near The Rocks, and rents there have gone down by over 26% and they reckon that’s because of the Airbnb effect. Lots of the old terrace houses the old heritage houses along middles point, have been subdivided into little apartments, so they’ve got maybe four to a terrace house, and they were all being let out on Airbnb, now they’ve come back into the residential rental pool. So there’s a lot more supply. So rents have really fallen.

And as well, some of the more generous landlords are offering their tenants reductions in their rent because they’re not earning very much. And people seem not to be so keen to live in the city anymore. They want to live on the coast, as I said, they kind of feel that they don’t have to live there to walk to work anymore. That’s not a real advantage because they don’t have any work to walk to, or their companies are devolving and closing down or reducing their the space that they use in the city.

Jimmy  30:38

It looks things changing. I wonder if it’s ever going to change back because people keep talking about the virus being a game changer.

Sue  30:46

It probably will bounce back a little bit. In some ways people will still live in the city people, some people will always live in the city. And especially as restaurants and businesses start picking up again, people will see the advantages of that. But other people will now we have zoom, we have great technology. Now we all have new desks and new computers at home, and some of them subsidised by their workplaces, then people don’t really need to live so close to the offices anymore.

The new Steam Age

Jimmy  31:14

Right? My Hey Martha for this week, I saw a story from Scotland. We’re gonna have Scottish trains running on hydrogen.

Sue

Hydrogen? Wow.

Jimmy

And guess what the exhaust from hydrogen is?

Sue

Water, water, steam.

Jimmy

So, they’ve got this system. And what they do is they use wind and solar power to hydrolyze water. So they turn water into oxygen and hydrogen. And then they use the hydrogen to fuel the trains.

And I’m thinking our government keeps making noises about oh we’re going to invest on a sustainable technologies. We have so much sunshine and wind, we could be exporting hydrogen to places like China who won’t buy our coal anymore.. So if you’re listening, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, get your finger at me. We’ve got the skills, we’ve got the people here we’ve got the sunshine, we got the wind, big batteries, hydrogen. And we can all be driving around in steam exhausting cars by this time next year.

Sue  32:26

Because it would be a tragedy if the rest of the world ends up running on hydrogen. And we’re left behind in these big old trains and we’ve got coal  … we’ll be going back to steam trains.

Jimmy  32:37

That’s right, because we could keep all these unemployed young people busy … have them shoveling coal into furnaces on trains. I’m sure a lot of people out there would love to see steam trains going up and down the line again.

Sue  32:50

Just as a novelty, that’s all  but not not as a regular thing. And are they actually in operation yet? Or are they coming in?

Jimmy  32:57

I think they’ve there’s a prototype hydrogen powered train running in Germany just now. So they these are that this stage is small commuter trains, like two or three or four carriage trains. And rather than putting up big electrical infrastructure, they are self-powered on hydrogen.

Sue  33:18

And it’s interesting in Scotland because you get lots of wind, but I wouldn’t have thought you get that muchsun.

Jimmy  33:23

No but we also have hydroelectric power. We’ve got these big dams with water pouring through, and what would you do with them at night when people are not cooking and watching TV and certainly not having running air conditioners? Use them to create hydrogen.

Sue  33:40

Fantastic, and we are getting more new apartments built all the time, which are powered on solar?  they’re fitted with batteries already. So and they’re giving electricity back to the grid. So there are some really bright sparks out there on there.

Jimmy  33:56

Well, I saw an image of planning this new city out by the new airport, Badgerys Creek, and it was a lovely CGI image of some artists and town planners’ vision, and I saw the train coming out of the station. And I thought, aha, you forgot to put the electric lines in. So? Are we going back to diesel and then I had a second look, and the train was rolling past the factory was a big H, in a circle. So they are saying already, we’re gonna have hydrogen plants here. And that train is obviously going to be running on hydrogen. So there you go.

Sue  34:38

So the train hasn’t left the station yet, but not very long off.

Jimmy  34:41

And neither has the ship sailed. Okay. Thank you so much, Sue.

Sue

Thank you, James.

Jimmy

Thank you for joining me in talking to David Sachs. And thank you everybody, for listening. We’ll talk to you again soon. Bye. Bye.

One Reply to “Podcast 96: Pets, rents and new age steam trains”

  1. Avatar Jimmy-T says:

    If you want to start a discussion or ask a question about this, log into the Flat Chat Forum (using the link above). More people will read it there and you can more easily keep track of responses.

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