Media release, March 1, 2017
Over 90 stakeholders from across Western Sydney attended Turn down the heat forum on Thursday to address one of the region’s burning issues – extreme heat.
Specialists from across the health, infrastructure, planning, environment, community, university and private sectors gathered to discuss how urban heat can be mitigated in the rapidly developing region.
Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) CEO, Charles Casuscelli said the response to the forum had been overwhelming.
“This year’s record-breaking summer really emphasised the pressure heat places on our health, environment, urban infrastructure and economy,” he said.
“We saw the impact heat had on our energy grid, transport networks and emergency services. We saw health impacts and increased hospitalisations, and I am sure we will feel the economic impacts when we receive our energy bill for the last quarter,” said Mr Casuscelli.
“Urban heat isn’t unique to Western Sydney, but it does have a particularly significant impact here due to the region’s unique climatic conditions, large residential population and rapid rate of development.
“The importance of this issue is clear from the sheer number of organisations – both public and private – who are looking at how they can plan for a cooler, more liveable Western Sydney,” said Mr Casuscelli.
“There are a number of fantastic cooling initiatives out there – community education initiatives, urban greening programs, water sensitive design, and new technologies,” he said.
“What is missing however, is a strategic plan for tackling heat across all levels government and the private sector – exactly what we are hoping to facilitate,” said Mr Casuscelli.
“This event has provided the building blocks for developing a solid plan of action, and WSROC will continue to work with stakeholders over the next 12 months to develop this into a regional action plan,” he said.
“Through Turn down the heat, local government is leading the way in terms of a collaborative approach to urban heat mitigation in Western Sydney, however we need support from across state and federal government portfolios if we are to change the way we design and manage our cities,” said Mr Casuscelli.
Participants heard from Environment Commissioner Roderick Simpson; Centre for Western Sydney (WSU) Director Professor Phillip O’Neill; and Director Western Sydney Local Health District Centre for Population Health, Mr Stephen Corbett.
Event partners included WSROC, Blacktown City Council, City of Parramatta, Cumberland Council, Penrith City Council, Liverpool City Council, City of Canterbury Bankstown, Western Sydney University, Greater Sydney Commission, 100 Resilient Cities, Western Sydney, South Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health Districts.