Ergon, Council partner to deliver turtle-friendly lighting

ergon turtle lighting
Mayor Jack Dempsey joined Ergon Energy Network's Karesse Biggs and Michael Dart to announce new turtle-friendly lighting will be installed in Bargara and parts of Burnett Heads.

Ergon Energy Network will replace more than 200 lights in Bargara and Burnett Heads to give turtle hatchlings along the region’s coastline a better chance of survival.

The program, set to start in coming weeks, is a partnership with Bundaberg Regional Council to replace street lights that are potentially disruptive to turtle hatchlings as they make their way to the ocean, with more energy-efficient LED lights.

Ergon Executive General Manager Community, Customer and Corporate Affairs Michael Dart said light from the mainland caused many hatchlings to take their first tentative steps inland, rather than towards the ocean.

“This means the survival rate for hatchlings becoming adult turtles and for the females to return to our coastline to breed should increase by managing another risk they face,” Michael said.

“As a volunteer at Mon Repos in my high school years I’m really proud to support the Sea Turtle Alliance and the Bundaberg Regional Council with this significant cash and in-kind partnership worth more than $100,000 for this initiative.

“It builds on trials we have done with lighting over the last few years.

“Replacing these street lights is an important contribution, but this significant community alliance will help educate residents and businesses to reduce the amount of light they emit towards the coast between October and April.

“Our community are the guardians of our turtles and this is another step towards recognition of our place as the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

“It’s vital we do everything possible to ensure as many of the hatchlings as possible at least get to start their journey safely and we’re urging coastal residents and businesses to also play their part.”

Council welcomes Ergon's turtle-friendly lighting

Mayor Jack Dempsey welcomed the announcement which he said had been a shared goal that Council and Ergon had worked towards through the Reducing Urban Glow partnership.

“We all know that protecting marine life along our coastline takes a whole-of-community approach so it’s terrific to see one of our industry leaders in Ergon Energy taking this important step,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“If we all work together on the small changes we can make, we will make a big difference.

“Importantly these new energy-efficient LED streetlights will provide positive environmental outcomes along with cost savings for the Bundaberg Region community, with the potential for broader rollout of smart technology.”

Ergon Energy Network is also working closely with Bundaberg Regional Council on where there’s opportunities to add greater control of the street lights with smart controllers that will dim or turn off lights as required.

Mayor Dempsey said Council was keen to trial the use of the smart enabled lighting and discover how it could be implemented to provide a balance between conservation and lifestyle.

Mayor Dempsey joined Michael and Energy Queensland Chief Risk Officer Karesse Biggs for the announcement today.

Michael said it was a particularly rewarding opportunity for the pair considering he and Karesse attended Bundaberg South State School together and were part of the environmental club.

“We want to be involved in projects to deliver great outcomes for our community where we grew up,” Michael said.

The Reducing Urban Glow project has been supported by the Australian Government under the Smart Cities and Suburbs program.

Project partners include Bundaberg Regional Council, Queensland Department of Environment and Science, Ergon Energy, Burnett Mary Regional Group, Central Queensland University, The Prince’s Trust Australia and Greenfleet, Bundaberg Tourism and Sea Turtle Alliance.