I went to a CUSP organised One Planet talk at Victoria Hall yesterday that coincided with this morning’s blog on Malmo by Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt, who is on one of those fact finding tours to liveable cities. Brad raves about what the city has done and believes that some of it could be implemented on the Works Depot site at Knutsford/Amherst streets.
At Victoria Hall Dr Vanessa Rauland gave a talk on carbon, and she will do carbon classes in Fremantle schools as well in the future. Also speaking was Katy Anketel from the South Fremantle Senior High School and the City of Fremantle environmental officer whose name I don’t know.
Most of what I heard yesterday, and what Brad Pettitt wrote on his blog, makes sense, but I am skeptical about how we can change the ingrained Australian culture of the Great Australian Dream, and single storey houses with front and backyards, and the car and waste culture we have in our country. Only education will change that so Vanessa Rauland’s school education will be a good start, but it will also mean that probably this is going to be slow change that won’t happen overnight.
There is no doubt for me that we need to learn to embrace higher density in our cities and as long as the buildings are well designed and human scale I have no problem with it. It is essential that high density buildings along traffic corridors are well sound proofed and emphasis should be on human comfort and amenity and public spaces, roof gardens, etc.
We also need to insist that developers design large residential areas so that houses can be built to take advantage of the sun, and I am all for legislating that new dwellings need to have solar power and rainwater tanks, and maybe some form of grey water use. We also need to insist that houses are being built properly with double glazing, and insulation against heat, cold and noise. The way buildings are positioned and designed for our climate will also make a big difference.
Brad Pettitt writes that the former port area in Malmo has been designed to exclude garbage trucks and that waste is sucked to areas outside the suburb where trucks can pick it up. Great idea, but it will add cost to buildings, so maybe government incentives could be introduced here in Western Australia.
There is a lot we can learn from how countries with high population are attacking the carbon and other environmental problems, but we need to stay away from comparing Fremantle with cities that are very different and much much larger. If we remain realistic we can make the changes needed that will have a big impact.
Dr Vanessa Rauland suggested it is better to do things on a smaller scale as we have more control over it and it might become more achievable as well. The solar farm in South Fremantle will be a good example of what a community can do, while a windfarm is probably done better the way they do it in Victoria where councils combine and work together to buy a large area well away from their communities and put a windfarm there.
There are a lot of exiting things we can do to stop the madness of waste and pollution and we need to start with education and communication that is realistic and leave ideology at home. I really enjoyed the talks at Victoria Hall yesterday and was inspired by them.