In this issue:                                                                    June, 2015

MAV Environment Conference: registrations closing soon
Victorian renewable energy targets announced
Environmental Upgrade Agreements
Vic Government to legislate zero net emissions target by 2050

Energy efficient major road lighting program
Plastic Free July
Bill to ban plastic bags and microbeads
Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy
Links between water, cool green spaces and health

MAV Environment Conference: registrations closing soon

Time is running out to register for the MAV Environment Conference on 12 - 13 July.

Join us at Melbourne Park Function Centre to hear what the result of the Federal Election (or lack of a result!) likely means for national environment policy; what a sustainable future really means in light of the latest climate change science; how communities, customers and councils are taking the lead on renewable energy; how drones are revolutionising ecology and conservation, and more.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Rob Gell, Inaugural Fellow of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand
  • Dr Richard Denniss, The Australia Institute
  • Anthony Carbines, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment
  • Jenny Gray, CEO of Zoos Victoria
  • Dr Gillian Sparkes, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Victoria
  • Dr Dominique Hes, Melbourne School of Design.

We are now offering single day registrations which can be made online.

Victorian renewable energy targets announced

The Victorian Government has announced its renewable energy targets for the state. By 2020, 25 per cent of electricity generated in the state will come from renewable energy. By 2025, that will rise to 40 per cent. Currently, about 14 per cent of Victoria’s electricity comes from renewable sources.

The Premier has also announced an auctions scheme – running a series of technology-neutral auctions, as well as solar auctions – which will see project developers compete to be the lowest cost provider. Successful bids will be given long-term contracts to support their projects.

The MAV applauds the government’s aspiration to establish itself as a leader in renewable energy development and we congratulate them for adopting ambitious targets.

Environmental Upgrade Agreements

The Sustainable Melbourne Fund has received $425,000 in grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to help enable up to 15 councils to offer Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUAs) to their communities. The ARENA funding will partially subsidise the establishment costs of EUAs for councils in Victoria.

An EUA is an agreement between a property owner, a bank and local government that facilitates a building upgrade to improve energy efficiency. Under an EUA, a lender provides finance to a building owner and the local council collects repayments through the rates system. Under this mechanism, 100 per cent finance is available.

To date Greater Bendigo, Hobsons Bay, Wyndham, Maribyrnong and Greater Shepparton councils have all passed resolutions to support the uptake of EUAs within their municipalities.

For further information, contact Scott Bocksay on 0439 550 513.

Vic Government to legislate zero net emissions target by 2050

The Victorian Government has announced that it will introduce a series of five-year interim targets with the goal of achieving an overall target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The targets are recommendations of the 2015 Independent Review of the Climate Change Act 2010. In its response to the review, the government said it will enshrine the net zero emissions reduction target in legislation while also making climate change a consideration across government decision-making, policies and programs.

Energy efficient major road lighting program

The MAV has been working with most Victorian councils since 2011 to deliver the largest energy efficiency project in Australian local government history. The projects that have been completed, to replace more than 250,000 street lights, will lead to savings of more than 1.7m tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and save councils almost half a billion dollars over the next 20 years. The MAV's role has been to assist councils with support to deliver the programs, tendering for street lighting materials, and to advocate to the distribution businesses and state and federal government on councils’ behalf.

Over the last 12 or so months, the MAV has been in discussions with VicRoads to prepare for the opportunity to expand the project to include all lights that have not yet been replaced (such as sodium major road lighting). Three of the five Victorian distribution businesses have now approved the use of LEDs to replace sodium lighting on major roads.

In order to gauge the level of interest across the sector for this expansion, the MAV sent all councils a brief survey. The results of that survey and next steps will be sent to councils shortly.

Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems and amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives, and challenge people to do something about it.

The challenge is quite simple: attempt to refuse single-use plastic during July. ‘Single-use’ refers to items that would only be used once like plastic shopping bags, cups, straws, and packaging. Another option is the top four challenge where you refuse plastic bags, bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.

By 2050 it's estimated there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans. Most comes from land and was once in our hands. Registrations and tips on how councils can support Plastic Free July are available online.

Bill to ban plastic bags and microbeads

The Victorian Greens have introduced a Bill into Parliament to amend the Environment Protection Act 1970 to restrict the supply and sale of plastic bags and plastic and polystyrene packaging, and to prohibit the supply and sale of plastic microbeads.

The Bill seeks to introduce a number of obligations on retailers, including a prohibition on the sale or supply of certain plastic bags and a prohibition on the sale, supply or provision of perishable fruit or vegetables in restricted packaging.

The MAV supports the establishment and implementation of controls over the distribution of lightweight plastic shopping bags by Victorian retailers.

Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy

The Victorian Government has started holding regional sessions with councils and water authorities to commence implementation of the Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy. The strategy includes managing floodplains and minimising flood risks in cities, towns, regional areas and rural communities, including guidance on riverine flooding, flash flooding and coastal flooding.

We welcome the cooperative and consultative process being undertaken by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to assist in the development of regional strategies. It is positive that funding has been committed to enable development of regional strategies. This will be important work given the increased likelihood of severe weather caused by climate change, and increasing urbanisation which creates more impermeable surfaces, leading to higher flows of water during storm events.

There remains a number of complexities for councils in the implementation of the strategy, particularly in relation to roles and responsibilities of councils and water authorities. There is also a body of work involved in incorporating the knowledge gained from flood studies into local planning schemes. We’re pleased that DELWP will be accountable for undertaking coastal hazard assessments for priority areas identified through Regional Coastal Plans. For further information, please contact Rosemary Hancock.

Links between water, cool green spaces and health

As part of the MAV's water project with DELWP, we are collecting business case evidence for the importance of integrated water management, and the way that water and green open spaces are important to health and responding to climate change.

This link is highlighted in a number of reports, including the City of Melbourne’s paper ‘Green Infrastructure and its Tri-benefits: Health, Environment and Economic’; Victoria University’s ‘Green Infrastructure Economic Framework’; the Water Services Association of Australia paper ‘The role of the urban water industry in contributing to liveability’; and its 2016 paper ‘Liveability Indicators’. The importance of green open space is also described in a paper released this month by Melbourne University and the Department of Health called ‘How Liveable is Melbourne?’

Water plays a crucial role in improving the quality of a space through greening, providing visually attractive blue space, and providing relief from high temperatures by cooling open space. Contact with attractive, accessible green space or nature encourages greater levels of physical activity and can improve mood, lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Research has found that tree shading can also lower the temperature of a street, as can two irrigation events on a sporting field, creating cool refuge islands among heated housing. Ensuring new and existing open space and streetscapes have adequate tree cover, and an alternate water supply to irrigate trees and green space can help to achieve cooler, greener, quality spaces.

For further information, contact Nicky Kindler.

Upcoming MAV events...

12 - 13 July

MAV Environment Conference

14 July

Winning Tourism Strategies for Councils workshop

4 August

Street Design Masterclass


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