MAINLAND VIEW: Great Keppel Island will be a hive of activity as a number of studies are carried out in coming weeks.
MAINLAND VIEW: Great Keppel Island will be a hive of activity as a number of studies are carried out in coming weeks. Leighton Smith

Study about to commence to reduce GKI's carbon footprint

THE activity around revitalising Great Keppel Island is increasing with news revealed of another imminent government study.

Great Keppel Island is recognised as being vulnerable to the impacts of climate change including sea level rise, heat stress, coral bleaching and extreme weather events.

The Queensland Government's Department of Environment and Science (DES) is currently running a $1.73 million Decarbonisation of the Great Barrier Reef Islands program, which aims to assist island communities to reduce their carbon emissions and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change.

This week, Great Keppel Island residents and land holders received letters from specialist consultants Energetics and EarthCheck, who were drafted in by the DES to undertake their Reef Island Decarbonisation program.

Energetics is a specialist energy and carbon management consultancy with experience assisting energy users to unlock new opportunities in the clean energy economy while EarthCheck is regarded as on of the world's leading sustainability advisory and certification firms for the tourism industry.

Energetics and EarthCheck planned to deliver a whole-of-island sustainability assessment, undertake an options analysis, develop business cases to provide the most suitable solutions for GKI's residents, businesses and guests.

The on-site sustainability assessment would include a review of energy, waste, water, transport and resilience to identify relevant and innovative options for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

An initial site audit was scheduled to be completed on January 22 and 23 when the consultants intended to interview and discuss the project with council, business owners and residents.

The consultants also planned to host multiple workshops with on-island residents and businesses with the opportunity to provide input and feedback which would influence the final report which would be submitted to the government.

These workshops were planned for the weeks commencing March 10 and March 31 but could be subject to change.

Further letters be released in the coming weeks explaining how people can participate.

After the interviews and workshops, business cases would be developed in consultation with the community and relevant stakeholders and provided to the residents and landholders providing options for decarbonising GKI.

News of the government's planned decarbonising program follows letters sent out in late December spelling out intentions to conduct three weeks of marine survey works to map out the path for the promised a power and water connection between GKI and Emu Park (between the Water Reservoir, Hawke Street and Haven Beach).

This was part of the Queensland Government's Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development's (DITID) $25 million pledge to revitalise the island and support existing tourist operators become more sustainable and grow, while also supporting new and expanded tourism ventures on the Island.

Concerns were raised by GKI residents on social media that the government was getting ahead of itself by surveying for a mainland connection before the decarbonising study had been conducted to determine the optimal way that the island would satisfy its energy needs.

A DES spokesperson said their decarbonisation program was separate to the DITID's $25 million Great Keppel Island Rejuvenation Pilot, which was scoping infrastructure upgrades to boost tourism on GKI.

"GKI is a pilot project under the Decarbonisation of the Great Barrier Reef Islands program, which has just commenced," the spokesperson said.

"It is exploring ways to reduce carbon emissions through sustainable business practices covering energy, waste, water, transport and climate resilience.

"A series of workshops will be held on GKI with island residents and businesses to help develop practical and achievable decarbonisation business cases.

"The pilot program for GKI will run until the end of April 2019."

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