There is little real action on the climate emergency from the Australian federal government so it is being left up to the people on the ground to make real changes. Local councils are on the front line of managing resources and the environment and are in a position to implement practical on-the-ground changes to protect the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and plan for the impacts of the changing climate. This is what our local councils have been up to in the last year.
Tweed Council are working towards a range of commitments to protect the environment. They’re based on the three key commitments of minimising negative impacts on the environment; protecting the land, waterways, and wildlife; and responding to climate change.
Under the recycling and sustainability initiatives they’ve recycled plastic fibres into footpath concrete and recycled glass bottles into glass-sand and re-used and recycled excavated waste.
The Council has supported the breeding of the critically endangered Beach Stone-curlew at Hastings Point that has rarely successfully bred in Tweed.
Other community projects aimed at protecting and enhancing the environment have seen over 7,500 trees planted, 7ha of riparian vegetation restored, and erosion-stabilisation projects implemented.
The Tweed Shire Sustainable Living Home Expo helped over 600 locals learn how to reduce waste, become more energy efficient, and create more sustainable homes. This was complemented by the three-day outward-bound wilderness experience that 18 Tweed High School students participated in that helped inspire students to create change in their own schools.
The council has reduced its greenhouse gas emmissions by over 840 tonnes over the last year, added 555kW of solar electricity generation, and made $174,000 in annual electricity savings. Tweed Shire Council is committed to protect and enhance the Tweed’s internationally significant environment and respond to the challenges of climate change.
One of the ways they’re doing this is by generating renewable energy at Council facilities. Tweed is on track to produce 25 per cent of Council’s electricity from renewable sources by 2022 and 50 per cent by 2025 (Renewable Energy Action Plan).
For more information on what Tweed Council is up to visit www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/Environment.
Lismore City Council (LCC) has a strong commitment to sustainability and currently has many projects underway. LCC has set a target to meet all its electricity requirements from renewable sources by 2023, through their many energy-efficiency and solar-power projects. LCC has achieved a 23 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2010.
Under its Rural Landholder Initiative, Council has supported volunteers and landholders to plant thousands of trees and restore hundreds of hectares of habitat. LCC’s approach is to build partnerships with landholders and rural industries to look after biodiversity. Landholders can apply for funding for habitat projects and attend regular field days.
Council also supports landcare and wildlife volunteers working in the urban and residential areas. Koala habitat, as well as riparian habitat along the Wilsons River and local creeks, are particularly important. Workshops and events to help residents in Lismore city and surrounding villages be involved in biodiversity conservation will continue to be run. These will include community days in and around the bushland reserves, educational events, and citizen science projects.
Lismore City Council has been a leader in minimising waste and getting the most out of our precious resources. The Lismore Recycling and Recovery Centre is a regionally significant facility that incorporates recycling and resource recovery from different types of waste, green-waste composting, a Revolve Shop, Environmental Education Centre, and the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens. Lismore City Council also collaborates with the other councils in the Northern Rivers region on the Recycle Right program.
Lismore residents interested in environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation can contact the Environmental Strategies team on 1300 878 387.
Byron Shire Council
Byron Shire Council is preparing to start a solar-panel installation in the carpark next to its offices in Mullumbimby. The solar ‘roof’, covering approximately 40 car spaces, is expected to offset 20–25 per cent of the council building’s daily electricity use. There will also be a Level 2 electric vehicle charging station installed for public use.
Council is also planning for a five megawatt solar farm on land next the Resource Recovery Centre at Myocum. This is expected to generate the equivalent amount of electricity to power 1,000 homes.
Recycling continues to be an important priority with recycled glass from Byron Shire being crushed and mixed with a quarry product at Lismore’s Recycling and Recovery Centre and used to build the roadbase.
Council is also selling high-quality compost made from the Shire’s garden waste. Three thousand tonnes of green waste a year is now processed and can be used in home gardens, agriculture, urban landscaping, and land rehabilitation.
Last year’s Butt Free Byron campaign was successful and included installing 100 Enviropole butt bins across the Shire. The butts are recycled and turned into things like park benches, office equipment and building materials.
Council implemented some actions identified in the draft Koala Plan of Management including the North East Hinterland Project, a Saving our Species grant-funded project with Tweed Shire Council that identifies, negotiates, and assesses properties for conservation agreements and secures high-priority/core koala habitat.
Now more than ever, we all have a role to play in protecting the future of our environment. Ballina Shire Council (BSC) aims to enhance our natural environment through a range of initiatives, such as improving stormwater infrastructure, diverting waste from landfill, installing solar panels, koala management, and educating the community about their environmental impact.
Battery electric vehicle (BEV)s use electricity as their sole energy source and reduce CO2 emissions and other pollutants. In May, the council decided to purchase their first BEV as a pool car in their fleet, along with a charging station, as they move towards becoming carbon neutral.
BEVs need power and what better source than the sun? BSC’s solar panel count is growing and now boasts eight solar-panel sites with a 514kW capacity. But they aren’t stopping there; Council will look at developing more Council-owned solar-panel facilities. Ballina’s new Indoor Sports Centre will also have a 55kW solar system.
BSC is tackling paper use and this year launched an eRates competition offering the winner a $1,000 discount for going from paper to digital rates notices. They aim to reduce the 113,000 pieces of paper Council prints annually for rates and charges notices.
These sustainability efforts were awarded at the recent Local Government NSW Excellence in Environment Awards. BSC was acknowledged for their Asbestos Management Program, smart water-metering service, and the Love it or Lose it education campaign.
For more information on these projects or other Council sustainability, projects visit ballina.nsw.gov.au.
This article is from The Echo‘s eleventh annual sustainability supplement Sustainability 2019 – hints for living a sustainable life. Check it out for more great tips for those who would like to tread lightly on this planet.
More articles from Sustainability 2019:
Local councils are on the front line of managing resources and the environment and are in a position to implement practical on-the-ground changes to protect the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and plan for the impacts of the changing climate.
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