In this issue:                                                                    March, 2017

Ecologically sustainable design forum for councillors
Australia State of the Environment report released
EPA inquiry government response
New waste education grants
New NRSIEE emissions standards
Yarra River Protection
In brief

Ecologically sustainable design forum for councillors

The MAV and the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) are pleased to invite Victorian councillors to a free forum on ecologically sustainable design (ESD).

`Sustainable buildings: unlocking local leadership’ will provide an opportunity to hear from experts and practitioners about:

  • What is ESD and why does it matter?
  • Councils’ roles and opportunities in ESD
  • How the land use planning system can and already is influencing ESD outcomes
  • Victorian council case studies of ESD in practice

The forum will be held at the MAV, Level 11, 60 Collins Street, Melbourne on 23 March at 10am-1pm. Registration is essential.

Council officers keen to take part can watch the event via Skype. Please ensure you have added the MAV Skype to your contact list by sending a request to MAVonSkype prior to the event.

For further information, contact Claire Dunn or Natasha Palich.

Australia State of the Environment report released

The Australia State of the Environment (SoE) 2016 was tabled in Parliament on 7 March.

The report notes that Australia’s built environment, natural and cultural heritage, and marine and Antarctic environments are generally in good condition. There are, however, areas where the condition of the environment is poor and/or deteriorating.

These include the more populated coastal areas, and some of the growth areas within urban environments, where human pressure is greatest (particularly in south-eastern Australia). The extensive land-use zone of Australia, where grazing is considered a major threat to biodiversity, is also noted in the report.

In Australia, the key drivers of environmental change are population growth and economic activity.

EPA inquiry government response

The MAV has held preliminary discussions with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the EPA in relation to the EPA inquiry report. This report contained the recommendation to establish a network of local government environment protection officers to address localised pollution and waste complaints.

The government has committed $4.8 million to deliver a pilot local government environment protection officer program in 2017-18. No decisions have yet been made regarding the model to be used for the pilot, and we anticipate that councils will be provided with information and an opportunity to help shape the pilot project in April.

For further information, contact Claire Dunn or Rosemary Hancock.

New waste education grants

Victorian councils now have access to additional funding and training to boost local waste education efforts. Three new grant programs – managed by the Sustainability Victoria (SV) waste education team – were announced by Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, on Clean up Australia Day.

The new grant programs are:

To register your interest in receiving the grant guidelines and application forms, please visit the SV website.

SV will hold an information session and host a webinar in the coming weeks. Attendees will hear an overview of each program and have the opportunity ask the team questions.

New NRSIEE emissions standards

The Federal Government is developing new emissions standards to reduce air pollution from non-road spark ignition engines and equipment (NRSIEE).

This includes petrol and gas-powered products used in marine vessels (such as outboard engines and personal watercraft) and in outdoor power equipment rated 19kW and below (such as brush cutters, generators and chainsaws)

The new standards will place limits on exhaust emissions and will apply to new NRSIEE brought into Australia from 1 July 2018 and supplied to the Australian market from 1 July 2019. The standards will not cover NRSIEE that people already own, second-hand NRSIEE, automotive engines or vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles.

More information is available in the government’s update paper.

Yarra River Protection

The Victorian Government has released the report of the Yarra River Protection Ministerial Advisory Committee and its response, following a consultation process held last year.

A Yarra River Action Plan has been developed and Melbourne Water has been tasked as the lead agency to deliver it.

The actions include the creation of the Birrarung Council, which will comprise Traditional Owners and representatives from environmental, farming and community bodies.

A natural infrastructure taskforce will also be convened with public land managers, including councils, to develop an urban natural infrastructure strategy that provides an integrated vision to improve the liveability and ecological health of the growing city.

Many of the actions will be welcomed by councils, which have also been involved in providing advice through the Ministerial Advisory Committee’s consultation process. The MAV also made a submission last year.

In Brief

  • Native vegetation clearing review: The MAV has finalised and lodged its submission in response to the proposed policy and provision changes, released by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning as part of the review of the native vegetation clearing regulations. Thank you to those councils that provided input. 
  • Marine and Coastal Act: DELWP has released a summary of the feedback it received as part of its consultation on the Marine and Coastal Act. A total of 115 submissions were received from a wide range of stakeholder groups, including the MAV and several councils. A bill for the new Act is is expected to be introduced to Parliament in late 2017. A transition plan for non-legislative reforms is also being developed.
  • Fracking ban: The Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016 has been passed by the Victorian Parliament, permanently banning all onshore unconventional gas exploration and development, including hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and coal seam gas. The legislation also extends the moratorium on conventional onshore gas exploration and development to 30 June 2020.
  • Waste to Energy: The State Government has launched a $2 million program to support the development of waste to energy technologies. The Waste to Energy Infrastructure Fund is designed for the waste management sector, councils, water authorities and businesses with proposals for new or upgraded projects that can be commissioned by 31 December 2019. Expressions of interest close on 3 April.
  • Plan Melbourne: The long awaited Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 was released on 11 March along with a five-year implementation plan. The Plan includes a greater emphasis on climate change and resilience including cooling and greening the city and integrated water management. A direction regarding moving to a low carbon economy is also included. The MAV is currently preparing a Members Brief to be circulated shortly.
  • Product Stewardship: The Federal Government is undertaking a review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011. The Act was introduced to provide a framework to administer and accredit product stewardship schemes. “Product stewardship” refers to action taken by those who make, import, sell, use or dispose of products, to reduce the impact of those products on the environment and human health. The review will consider the degree to which the Act is enabling, and can enable, realisation of the benefits product stewardship can deliver to Australia’s towns, cities, the environment and economy.
  • Minimum feed-in tariffs: The Victorian Essential Services Commission has released its decision on the new minimum electricity feed-in tariffs. From 1 July 2017, the minimum tariff for households and businesses who feed power back into the electricity grid from small renewable energy sources (like solar panels) will be 11.3 cents per kilowatt hour; an increase of 6.3 cents on the existing feed-in tariff. The new tariff takes in changes to the Electricity Industry Act 2000 requiring the social and health benefits of renewable energy to be considered.
  • National recreational fishing fact sheet: The Biosecurity Incident National Communication Network has developed a national recreational fishing fact sheet to combat the spread of white spot disease. People fishing in local waterways are reminded not to use prawns meant for human consumption as bait.
Upcoming MAV events...

20 March

Emerging Technologies & Data Directions

28-29 March

Smart Urban Futures

26 April

Sharing Economy Masterclass & Workshop


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