Yellow Box Dispatch – February 2017

Yellow Box Dispatch February 2017

Big pictures and details

Welcome to the first Yellow Box Dispatch for 2017 with reports on just some of the environment-related activities in the ACT and region.

The beginning of the year is a good time to look forward and there have been a few gatherings where we have assessed coming opportunities and challenges.

The Conservation Council’s Biodiversity Working Group met at the end of January to refine our focus areas for the year. We noted some achievements – we were a key driver for the integration of nature conservation functions in ACT Government – and also looked to developing policies to protect mature trees in the landscape and to continue to meet the challenges of the impacts of urban development on our Bush Capital.

We have asked questions about what is happening on the Government’s commitment – along with support from the other political parties in the Assembly – for zero net greenhouse emissions by 2050 – at the latest. We have written to all parties to get support for creative engagement of the Assembly and the community to develop a pathway to reducing emissions to zero. What do we need to do, what are the options, how will Government do its part and how do we include all the community?

Please look at the events in this newsletter which show only some of the many activities of our member groups and some inquiries. We also advertise member group and other events on our Facebook page.

We look forward to working with you in 2017.

Larry O’Loughlin
Executive Director

Our vision: Nature is respected, protected and embraced by an ecologically sustainable, socially just and economically viable society which lives lightly on the planet.


Environment Exchanges are back for 2017!

Be part of an inspiring environment network as we explore a different theme on the fourth Tuesday of each month. Hear from fascinating guest speakers and engage in open and lively discussion about a range of topics in sustainability and environment. Visit our events page to peruse the line up or download and share our lovely flyer.

The lunchtime series includes sessions on mature trees, climate change, renewable energy, waste reduction and sustainable town planning.

Volunteer Needed – Contact [email protected] if you can help at Environment Exchanges and provide basic logistical support. Duties include setting up lunch, chairs and tables etc. We sweeten the deal with a free light lunch included at the event!


Mature trees in landscape – pillars of biodiversity

Mature trees are a biological keystone in the ecosystem. They provide habitat for wildlife, nurseries for seeds to grow and facilitate vital soil processes.

Several local groups are nominating “Loss of Native Hollow-bearing Trees” as a threatening process. This would be considered by the ACT Scientific Committee and if endorsed could lead to better protection of these trees.

Unfortunately we are rapidly erasing these pillars of biodiversity from the landscape. Given that these trees take hundreds of years to replace, urgent decisive action is needed before it is too late.

How can we restore what has already been lost? How can we protect what remains?

The first 2017 Environment Exchange will be held 12-2pm, February 28 at the Renewables Innovation Hub, 19-23 Moore Street, Turner ACT 2602.

We provide lunch to start – donations to cover costs are welcome. Please register here to help us plan the catering.


Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia – apply now for WELA 2017

Applications for WELA 2017 close Sunday 26 February – information and application forms

Are you a woman and an active environmentalist living in Australia? Are you looking to take your next step in leadership? Then WELA 2017 is for you!

The Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia (WELA) program will bring together 20 women environmentalists of different ages and diverse backgrounds for a challenging and inspiring program. Participants will be working on a variety of environmental issues and campaigns around the country, some with environment groups, some independently, and in both paid and unpaid roles.

The program includes:

  • three residential retreats in Victoria (May, July and October)
  • mentoring sessions with experienced women environmental leaders
  • small group projects on key issues facing women environmentalists
  • access to an ongoing supportive network of powerful women!

The retreats will be facilitated by Holly Hammond (Plan to Win) along with special guests with expertise in campaigning, political life, management, and many other aspects of leadership. The WELA Program information and application form: welaprogram.org.au

For further details or to speak to someone from the WELA 2017 team, email [email protected] with your phone number and a good time to call. One of Sue, Holly, Margaret will ring you back.

Green Institute, GPO Box 557, Canberra, ACT 2601 W: www.greeninstitute.org.au E: [email protected] T: +61 419 877 325


Plastics to fuel – fossil fuel industry for ACT?

The draft terms of reference for an inquiry panel on the Foy Group Limited waste plastic to fuel Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in Hume do not address the issue of whether the industry should be located in the ACT at all.

While the panel will go some way to looking at health impacts of pollution on local residents and the potential impact of disasters the panel is not being asked to look at whether this is a suitable long-term industry for the region.

The panel should be asked whether the ACT needs an industry proposing that up to 50 tonnes of plastic per day be imported into the ACT to be processed into fossil fuels and then for the ACT to manage the residues. The proposal comes from a company wanting to establish an industry rather than emerging from consultation or assessment under the ACT Waste Feasibility Study (see graphic).

That 50 tonnes would become 200 tonnes per day when the plant is operating at design capacity. It is also interesting to note that all plastics can be recycled and burning or heating and refining are not the only or even easy options.

At a time when the ACT is supposed to be reducing emissions from the transport sector we are considering importing waste, then burning fossil fuels to generate heat to refine the plastic into more fossil fuels.

It is unsustainable to reduce future greenhouse emissions through the light rail system but then generate more emissions from imported waste.

We might not have a proposed coal mine in the ACT but we do have a proposed fossil fuel facility. It is not clear that the Government has a process to say no but instead is only slowing down the process of saying yes.

See the Canberra Times article online ‘Panel appointed to Hume plastics to fuel factory inquiry‘.


Biodiversity issues in 2017

The Conservation Council’s Biodiversity Working Group is a key committee in the organisation, meeting monthly and reporting to the Board on the range of biodiversity issues facing us in the region.

The January meeting looked at priorities and emerging issues so as to identify where we need to focus our work over the year. Main issues included Planning Strategies; Threats to Biodiversity (for example including roaming cats and invasive weeds); Urban expansion-New greenfields developments; and then there are Planning Issues; Biodiversity Monitoring; Old/Paddock trees (see Environment Exchange 28 February); Reviews of Strategies and Plans for threatened species & communities; Plans of Management; Institutional arrangements – Restructure of LDA and National environment laws.

If you want more information on the work of the Biodiversity Working Group please contact us.


Lot’s happening, plenty to do on climate change

The Conservation Council, member groups, and many other people and organisations are interested in the ACT Government’s next steps on climate change, particularly to reduce the Territory’s greenhouse emissions to zero as soon as possible, remembering that all the parties elected in the 2016 ACT Legislative Assembly election agreed on 100% renewable energy for electricity by 2020 and zero net emissions by 2050 at the latest.

Among other things, the Conservation Council wrote to party leaders suggesting that a Select Committee should engage with the community on next steps. The Assembly did not establish such a Committee at its first sitting in December 2016 although we did receive a letter from the Chief Minister that the Government would consider the option of a select committee “as it assesses the best way to involve stakeholders and the community in the process”. He also wrote: “Any new policy development on a pathway to zero net emissions will include extensive public consultation and will seek to engage a broad cross-section of the Canberra community.”

Local climate change groups met as planned in late January to look at what to do in case we saw gaps in the Government’s approach. In particular we identified that there needed to be good genuine consultation so that the whole community is engaged and hopefully broadly agreeing on the steps needed to eliminate our community contribution to human induced greenhouse emissions. We recognised that we community groups need to be prepared to talk beyond our usual audiences and we need to encourage responses and genuinely listen.

Since the climate change groups meeting we have been informed by Minister Rattenbury’s office that he has written to the members of the Assembly Standing Committee on Environment and Transport and City Services “about the ACT Government’s planned action to develop a pathway to zero net greenhouse gas emissions, and to suggest the Committee may wish to conduct an inquiry on this topic”.

The Minister also wrote that the Environment Directorate “will begin to prepare a policy and action blueprint for an ACT pathway to zero net emissions by 2050 by the latest.” This would commence in 2017 and continue throughout 2018 and the Minister said that a discussion paper for public comment is planned for release by mid 2017 and “If the Committee could present final advice from any zero net emissions inquiry by September 2017, EPSDD could consider it in the development of its policy and action blueprint.”

The Directorate has also separately contacted environment groups to hold a roundtable probably 27 February to discuss both consultation approaches and strategies to reduce emissions.

The climate change groups are planning to meet again before end of February to discuss resources and ideas to develop community engagement in a successful long-term strategy.


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Events

Mature trees – pillars of biodiversity

What: Mature trees are a biological keystone in the ecosystem. Several local environment groups are nominating “Loss of Native Hollow-bearing Trees” as a threatening process and discussion of this nomination will be part of the event.

When: Tuesday 28 February, 12noon-2pm starts with ploughman’s lunch (no gender-neutral term available for this specific dish)

Where: Renewables Innovation Hub, 19-23 Moore Street, Turner ACT 2602

Register: Conservation Council website No charge but donations welcome to help cover lunch costs

Volunteer: if you’re available to help set up and clean up. Contact [email protected]


Assembly sitting times

What: Expanded Legislative Assembly will settle into its first full year of work with thirteen sitting weeks, two weeks of Budget Estimates (16-30 June) and four weeks of Annual Report hearings – two weeks on 2015-16 reports (27 February-10 March) held over from 2016 due to the election and two weeks for 2016-17 reports (6-17 November).

Where: ACT Legislative Assembly, 196 London Circuit, Canberra ACT 2601 or watch online live or replays.


Have your say on Draft Lower Cotter Catchment Reserve Management Plan

The ACT Government is inviting comment on a draft reserve management plan for the Lower Cotter Catchment.

The plan was prepared under the ACT Nature Conservation Act 2014, which requires management plans for all public land reserve areas, and released for public comment 16 January with a closing date for submissions 10 March 2017.

The plan is at www.yoursay.act.gov.au or follow these links:

Personal and organisational comments are welcome through visiting the website or by email: [email protected] or even post: Manager, Conservation Planning, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, PO Box 158, Canberra ACT 2601

There is also a Lower Cotter Catchment public information session:

When: Wednesday 15 February 2017 05:00 pm–07:00 pm

Where: was ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre, 245 Lady Denman Drive, Yarramundi Reach, ACT now Function Room, Ground Floor, North Building, Dame Pattie Menzies House, 16 Challis Street, Dickson

Please RSVP to: [email protected]


Pedal Power ACT 2017 AGM

strong>When: Tuesday 21 March 2017 7:30 to 8:30pm.

Where: Southern Cross Club, Woden

What: election of board and presentation of annual Pedal Power ACT awards

Awards:

  • Paul Truebridge Memorial Volunteer of the Year award
  • Event of the Year award
  • Annemarie Driver Memorial Leadership award
  • Several service and recognition awards.

Agenda: can be downloaded and viewed here and contains agenda for AGM, details of those standing for election to Board, minutes of last AGM, and proxy and voting forms.

Pedal Power ACT annual report and financial statement for 2017 will be available prior to the meeting from the Pedal Power ACT website. Minutes of the last Annual General Meeting 2016 available here.


Low interest rates, no fossil fuels, help Conservation Council

What: Conservation Council has partnership arrangement with Bank Australia where people can nominate us as they take out or transfer a loan and Conservation Council ACT receives one-off payment of 0.40% of loan value.

Who: Bank Australia does not invest in fossil fuels and is good way to move away from supporting fossil fuels. Bank Australia began in 1957 as CSIRO Co-operative Credit Society then became Members and Education Credit Union (mecu) then bankmecu then Bank Australia.

How much: Bank Australia fees and rates are lower given they are a member-owned bank. There is no money cost to you to move your home loan, just some of your time.

Contact: Executive Director, Larry O’Loughlin, for more details and to put you in touch with the bank. He has made the switch.


“What is the Ginninderra Falls all about?”

When: Tuesday February 28, 2017, 5:30pm – 7pm

Where: Cook Community Hub 41, Templeton St., Cook

Who: Panel discussion with speakers:

  • Wally Bell
  • David Wong
  • Doug Finlayson
  • Dr Bryan Pratt

For more information: http://ginninderra.org.au/


See our Facebook events for more environment-related events in the ACT region

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Yellow Box Dispatch — September 2016

Yellow Box Dispatch — September 2016

 

Yellow Box Dispatch September 2016

 

We have less than four weeks until the election of a new Assembly for a four year term.

We are the first Australian jurisdiction to have major party support for 100% renewable electricity and a zero net emissions timeframe. Well done Canberra. We have a plan to have 100% electricity from renewable energy by 2020 … but we don’t have a post-2020 plan to get to zero net emissions overall. So, to hear from candidates about their policies on the environment and climate change come to our forum to be held lunchtime Thursday 29 September at the Pilgrim Centre.

The Environmental Defenders Office ACT is seeking support for their campaign to obtain ACT government funding to replace the loss of their federal government funding. See the article below and follow the links to send a letter to ACT candidates.

What will candidates say in election mode about Minister Gentleman’s proposed suburb of Thompson on the bank of the Murrumbidgee? The case for the development has not been made in the community consultation – instead evidence has piled up against it!

There is a human side to the election and how we look after people can help reduce impacts on the environment. The Conservation Council has joined with other peak organisations around Canberra to develop a shared statement of issues.

Beyond the election, Fossil Free ANU is calling on alumni to not make donations to the University until the ANU agrees to divest from fossil fuel investments.

There’s always something to do as you can see from the environmental events below.

And save the date for Conservation Council Spring Mingle Friday 4 November. It’s always a great event – including the ACT Environment Awards announcements – and we will also have some interesting aural presentations this year!

Regards

Larry O’Loughlin
Executive Director

Election forum – still plenty to do on environment and climate change

All current political parties in the ACT Legislative Assembly have now committed to strong climate change targets. But there is still more to do. How do we actually get to those targets? Will we keep leading Australia and most of the world in driving down emissions and developing new approaches?

What are the political parties doing about other environmental issues (see some of our issues here)? How are they going to manage municipal waste into the future given that all parties refused to set reduction and recycling targets when legislation went forward earlier this year? How are they going to stop the impact of this expanding city on our unique biodiversity? Does any party have the courage to support cat containment across the whole city, not just some of the new developments? How are they going to deal with transport and planning to deal with the fact that after 2020 over 60 per cent of Canberra’s emissions will be from transport?

All these questions and more are there to be answered at the Conservation Council-350.org election forum 12 noon Thursday 29 September at Pilgrim House with:

  • Mick Gentleman MLA, Minister for Planning and Land Management — ACT Labor
  • Nicole Lawder MLA, Shadow Minister for the Environment — Canberra Liberals
  • Michael Mazengarb, Candidate for Brindabella — ACT Greens

We will make sure other candidates at the event are visible too!

Make your booking now so we can gather milk crates for spare seats!

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Evidence piles up against development while government tries distraction

The western Greenway community panel –  the consultation process for the proposed suburb of Thompson – has now met three times.

The panel has been told that the concept for a new suburb in the area – on the bank of the Murrumbidgee, adjacent to or on top of existing sporting and recreational activities and over Aboriginal and European heritage – came from Purdon Planning and went to the Land Development Agency (LDA) who then asked Purdon Planning to do more work on the concept.

The panel had asked the Government for a report on the possible impacts of the suburb on the Murrumbidgee water quality. Instead the panel was given a presentation on the ACT Healthy Waterways (Basin Project). There are no Basin projects proposed for western Greenway. None of the other areas with proposed projects seem to have similarities to western Greenway. Perhaps the real link was exposed with a question about the Government spending millions of dollars improving Murrumbidgee water quality while proposing to build a polluting suburb almost on the river itself!

The panel discussed the award-winning 2012 Tuggeranong Town Centre Master Plan and its proposals for adding thousands of residents to the town centre itself. The Master Plan said of the area proposed to be suburb Thompson: “Residential, commercial, retail, clubs, drink establishments and restaurants are not recommended as being appropriate for this area.” and “The Murrumbidgee River is only 600m from the town centre. The river is an alternative open space experience to the town park and paths around the lake. Access to the river helps make this urban centre unique.”

The panel was asked to identify studies that might need to occur before development in the western Greenway area. However it was not clear to many on the panel why there should be studies in a new area before first considering development in the town centre.

While there seemed to be no strong support on the community panel for a suburb in the area panel members recognise there are other issues to focus on for consultation. The Government seems happy to extend the consultation further without taking the suburb concept off the table.

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Fossil free ANU alumni

Fossil Free ANU is calling on all ANU alumni and community members to support our campaign and take the pledge not to donate until it has divested from fossil fuels! After five years campaigning on this issue, we’ve seen incremental, grudging steps towards socially responsible investment, but no moral leadership. Now, we’re seeing if money talks.

The ANU is currently undertaking a philanthropy drive and soliciting donations from alumni. Tell ANU that you don’t approve of their continuing investment in the fossil fuel companies causing climate change. Tell ANU to make your donation fossil free.

Read More

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Shared statement for ACT election

The Conservation Council has been working across a range of environmental issues leading to the Legislative Assembly election and has also been working as part of the Peaks Forum – a range of social, health and community organisations – to develop a shared statement on community issues.

The statement was signed by 20 organisations and launched 29 August 2016 as ACTCOSS hosted a panel of the current party leaders as part of the ACT Election campaign. As Susan Helyar ACTCOSS Director wrote in the ACTCOSS newsletter the “statement seeks to frame the election by inviting candidates to see city infrastructure, services, social infrastructure, the local environment and economic development as linked underpinning resources that we need to invest in and harness in unison if we are to achieve a fair, prosperous and sustainable Canberra over the next ACT Legislative Assembly.”

The event heard announcements from each of the leaders. ACT Labor Party through Andrew Barr pledged $1 million to build bulk-billing GP centres in Tuggeranong and Molonglo and also said there would be further announcements on affordable and accessible housing. The ACT Greens through Shane Rattenbury said they would freeze public transport fares for the period of the next Assembly and they would implement a housing affordability policy, including having someone from the social and affordable housing sector on the Board of the Land Development Agency. They also promised action on universal housing design and to do more on the quality of private rental housing.

The Canberra Liberals, through Jeremy Hanson in response to a question, stated support for 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020, a reduction in greenhouse emissions of 40% on 1990 levels by 2020 and zero net emissions by 2050.

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EDO ACT seeking your support

The Environment Defenders Office ACT is seeking ACT Government funding to fill the gap created by the Federal Government’s funding cuts and is asking you to use your voice at election time.

Follow this link to send a letter to the leaders of all major parties in the ACT, either using the letter already written or delete the text and write your own.

Go to Environmental Defenders Office – ACT Facebook page for more information.

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EVENTS

Gardening for renters

What: Join Canberra Environment Centre and the Tenants’ Union ACT in this hands-on workshop where you’ll learn about gardening tips and tricks that’ll keep your landlord happy. We’ll talk about a range of cheap and portable gardening ideas for your balcony/courtyard/backyard and ways to maximise your rental property’s potential. Make your own small and budget-friendly wicking pot to take home at the end of the workshop.

When: Saturday, 15 October, 10am – 12pm

Cost: $5 Register here

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Frogwatch training

What: Learn how to survey for frogs with Frogwatch experts. The evening will start with an introductory seminar from 6pm–7.15pm, followed by a practical session from 7.15pm–8.30pm in the form of an easy walk around the Wetlands to put new found theory into practice. A light supper will be provided.

Organiser: Woodlands and Wetlands Trust

Note: You can attend one session or both, however it is highly recommended that the seminar is undertaken if you haven’t done Frogwatch before.

When: October 1, 6pm – 8:30pm light supper provided

Where: Jerrabomberra Wetlands, 2 Dairy Road, Fyshwick, ACT 2609

Cost: $10 Bookings essential here 

Read about ACT and Region Frogwatch http://ginninderralandcare.org.au/frogwatch. Find more about our local frog species and listen to their calls http://fw.ginninderralandcare.org.au/frogs

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‘Art of Nature’ – WABA Members’ Exhibition

What: Wildlife and Botanical Artists annual Members’ Exhibition, ‘Art of Nature’, showcasing the extraordinary artworks produced by WABA members. There are prizes awarded for best artwork in four categories: 2-D work, 3-D work, Best in Show and People’s Choice, along with a raffle prize. See waba.net.au for more information

Where:
Woolshed Gallery, Strathnairn Arts Association, 90 Stockdill Drive, Holt ACT 2615

When:
24 November – 4 December inclusive, opening event Saturday 26 November 2016

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Consultation on ACT Healthy Waterways (Basin Project)

What: Preliminary sketch plans for up to 25 projects across six catchments as part of ACT Healthy Waterways (Basin Project) have been prepared for community consultation including specific information about proposals projects including access and thoroughfares, potential impact on existing vegetation, proposed landscaping, location/relocation of paths, cross sections, embankment treatments and dam heights.

Info: Visit https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/act-healthy-waterways for more details on the projects and feedback.

Print copies: if you would like copies to distribute to your contacts, email your name and postal address including how many you want to [email protected]

Community consultation is until Friday 30 September.

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National Environment Meeting 2016 (NEM2016)
Hope in The Dark

What: NEM2016 has an exciting program of forums, keynote speakers, workshops, and opportunities to build connections for your important work. NEM2016 has been extended to include public and academic streams, allowing environmentalists from across Australia to share knowledge and skills

Who: ​Hosted by Greenpeace Australia Pacific, in partnership with Nature Conservation Council of NSW and Sydney Environment Institute

When: The National Environment Meeting will be held 20-23 October 2016

Where: University of Sydney

Register here

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Yellow Box Dispatch – June 2016

This is just about the busiest time of our year when doing too much is just not enough!

We’ve had the World Environment Day dinner which is one of our major ways of resourcing our ongoing activities.

The ACT Budget on Tuesday will have interest for us especially on how the government funds its responsibilities for environmental weed management.

We’re also watching other developments around the city.

We await the next steps of the concept suburb of “Thompson” (which the Government is now calling West Greenway) to see if the overwhelming public objections are enough to take it off the table. The West Belconnen project proposal has an environmental assessment lodged under Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity legislation And there’s waste issues, the Federal Government might be considering taking away tax deductibility for environment groups…

I took on the role of Executive Director at the beginning of May after being Assistant Director since 2014 and I look forward to the challenges and welcome your support and feedback.

Regards
Larry O’Loughlin
Executive Director
Landscape sunset
World Environment Day dinner success
We held the World Environment Day dinner at the Arboretum Saturday night 4 June and, thanks to all the work that went into the dinner, it was a successful and enjoyable evening.

Thank you to all those who attended and to the staff, volunteers, producers, donors and sponsors who helped us to continue to help the environment.

ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing on North Watson
On Monday 6 June we’re off to mediation in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal over the 4ha North Watson development next to the community-protected Justice Robert Hope Park. We made comments on the development in January 2016 and think the decision could have been better.

The Conservation Council’s objections to the decision are on five points.

  • loss of woodlands of national significance: removal of large, mature ageing and even decaying trees from the landscape, especially near to quality woodlands, also diminishes those woodlands. The Conservation Council also believes Justice Robert Hope Park is not a suitable offset and that ACTPLA could direct a different offset for the development and does not need to accept a bad decision from the Federal Government.
  • loss of mature trees.
  • decision is inconsistent with advice from Tree Protection Unit  which assessed some trees as having no criteria to remove them. However, the Major Project Review Group supported removal of the trees.
  • impacts on Justice Robert Hope Reserve, especially using an existing dam in the reserve as a discharge control pond. The existing dam is an effective frog habitat
  • inadequate conditions to mitigate urban edge impacts, including that the decision-maker could have set a condition to have consideration of the area as cat containment under the Domestic Animals Act to protect the birdlife of Justice Robert Hope Park.

We’ll let you know how it goes.

bird
Facing a federal government attack?
On 4 May the House of Representatives Environment Committee tabled its report of its Inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations. The Conservation Council made a submission to the Inquiry and we also appeared before the committee.

The majority of Government members recommended environment groups should not have tax deductibility for donations unless “expenditure on environmental remediation work be no less than 25 per cent of the organisation’s annual expenditure” and they also recommended that “sanctions be introduced for environmental deductible gift recipients that encourage, support, promote, or endorse illegal or unlawful activity undertaken by employees, members, or volunteers of the organisation or by others without formal connections to the organisation”.

If these recommendations are adopted by the incoming government there would be an impact on the Conservation Council because we are a peak organisation of active member groups and we don’t do what is usually regarded as “environmental remediation” unless that includes dealing with planning, administrative and political decisions that have an impact on the environment or developing policy to enhance our local environment.

And while we seek to be lawful and legal in our activities we expect that the proposed rules will be managed to limit the activity of groups such as ours who advocate for the environment and who will support or arrange protests when that is the best way to support an issue.

Tax-deductibility helps us get the oily rag on whose smell we run. Taking tax-deductibility away would make a real difference to the Conservation Council and other groups around Australia who advocate for the environment.

email
Once was called “Thompson”
The concept of a suburb on the banks of the Murrumbidgee lingers on. Originally proposed as “Thompson” the Government is now calling it “West Greenway”.

The Conservation Council met with Minister Gentleman in May and noted that consultation had shown little support for the concept and had instead focussed on areas within the existing town centre that could be developed. We again pointed out the importance of the Murrumbidgee River corridor and asked the Minister to declare an end to the consultation given the issues that had been highlighted and the insufficient support for the concept.

The Minister said that there was still more to be considered and he would be receiving more reports before he made further decision. The Government is now proposing a next stage of direct consultation with groups and individuals including establishing a community panel. 

CSIRO site visit
A site tour for member groups at CSIRO Ginninderra Field Station has been arranged so we can have an on-ground look at the proposed urban area.

The federal Minister approved a change to the National Capital Plan just before the election was called and the CSIRO has since advertised the site as a 701 ha urban development opportunity.

The Conservation Council has had concerns about the lack of available information on how the environmental values of the site were being identified and the CSIRO has been helpful in facilitating the visit and for discussions with scientists and consultants on various issues.

Let’s talk rubbish!
Smart bins dumb idea

The ACT Government through the LDA and TAMS missed an opportunity by introducing ‘Smart bins’ that only deal with waste to landfill.

The bins are solar powered, fitted with compactors and hold up to 600 litres of waste, as against the 120 litres of regular bins. The bins have a sensor to record data on waste volume to provide an alert when they need emptying.

The Conservation Council’s view is that the waste problem for the ACT is we generate too much and don’t recycle enough. Smart bins would be recycling bins along with community engagement to reduce waste – not encouraging people to put more waste into bins.

The Conservation Council has been participating in the Government’s ACT Waste Feasibility Study to investigate options to best manage and minimise waste in the ACT and surrounding regions into the future. We know at there is a need for additional improved data, especially what’s going into the waste streams. Just under 250,000 tonnes waste went to the landfill mountain at Mugga Lane in 2014-15.

Green bins should be for kitchen and food waste

The other recent Government announcement that Green bins are coming to Canberra is also not dealing with the most urgent parts of the waste stream. The trial of green bins is proposed to deal with garden waste but this is one of the most successful ‘waste’ streams in the system with material being dropped off for free. This option is usually not available for people without cars so there could be more options ther but a ‘trashpack’ industry has developed over the years.

The real waste problem for a ‘green bin’ is the organic kitchen waste that currently makes up 40% by weight of residential waste bins. The Government’s proposal could be fixed if it also collects and processes food and kitchen waste and that the ‘composted’ product can be usefully used.

Policies for the future
The Conservation Council along with other groups has developed the ACT Region People’s Food Plan Working Paper #1 to support growth of local and regional food economies and empower producers and consumers alike to have control and agency to help build a fair, sustainable food system. A food industry in the region would be able to use composted food waste!

The 2016 ACT election Conservation Council waste policy on our website.

Red Hill facing another development proposal
The Federal Golf Club has informed the Red Hill Regenerators that a General Meeting of the golf club membership will be held 20 June 2016, to vote on whether to accept a proposal to develop a residential estate on part of the golf club’s concessional lease. Details on this proposal, including site plans, are available from the golf club website or click here and go to “Federal Golf Club over 55s development”.

The Red Hill Regenerators executive committee will meet in late June after this vote to consider a formal response to the proposal referring to twelve general areas of concern, which were provided to the developers on 28 January 2016.

If you want to find out more about Red Hill and the Red Hill Regenerators visit http://www.redhillregenerators.org.au/

Events
Festival of Democracy: DemFest16
What: – People Power for Democracy: a weekend of conversation about our role in politics, and change for the better. We’ll begin to map action we can take to transform our political system.

Who: Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy (CAPaD) aims to empower citizens to take control and transform our political system for our common good.

When: Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June

Where: Ann Harding Conference Centre, University of Canberra

Information and registration: Visit DemFest16 or contact [email protected] or Eventbrite

Help David pay eco-fines!
Who: Climate Action Canberra has adopted activist David Mould to fund raise for fines he accumulated while on the front lines for two years attempting to save the Leard Forest and stop Whitehaven Coal mine.

What: David is a father with two young girls and is training on Newstart with one arm paralyzed.

When: We have till July 10 to raise another $1000 or so.

We are sure there are many Canberrans who would be happy to make a contribution as they themselves can not attend such direct action camps.

How: Go to Pozible

Vale Neville Gare!
Many people involved with our National Parks would have known, or heard of, Nev Gare who sadly passed away 7 May 2016. Nev was the first Superintendent of Kosciusko NP (where he achieved the removal of cattle grazing) and he was also instrumental in getting most of the coastal NSW NPs south of Royal NP declared.

 
Did you know Canberra is officially a World Health Organisation Age Friendly City?
What: COTA ACT & ANU Centre for Research on Ageing, Health & Wellbeing invite you to come and hear from two leading UK experts, Professor Christopher Phillipson and Dr Tine Buffel, on how to turn the age-friendly dream into reality.

Where: Hughes Community Centre, Wisdom Street Hughes (at the shops)

When: 1.30 to 3.30pm, Wednesday 6 July 2016

How: RSVP to COTA ACT: [email protected] or 62823777

Vale Phillip Bell
Philip Bell, who was a leading figure in setting up Friends of Mt Painter in 1989 and its first President, died 26 May. A celebration of his life was held 1 June at the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion at the Arboretum.

Philip put an enormous amount of work into working on and advocating for the Mt Painter reserve and its extension to include the entire hill.

There is much of interest about his life in this blog.

 

 

Veterinary surgeons on cat containment – 12 March 2015

We asked the ACT Division of the Australian Veterinary Association for their position on cat containment. The Committee circulated to the AVA’s ACT Division members for comment prior to finalising this response:

Containment of owned pet cats in Canberra – response from the Australian Veterinary Association ACT Division Committee

12 March 2015

Containment of cats is encouraged on the condition that adequate environmental enrichment is provided to meet the cats’ physical and behavioural needs.

Background

The containment of cats in an enclosed area (within the owner’s property boundaries) can have the advantages of:

  • Helping to protect cats from injuries and diseases due to fighting between cats (abscesses, FIV, FeLV)
  • Helping to protect cats from injuries due to dog attacks, car accidents and snake bites
  • Increasing the opportunity for owner- cat interaction
  • Reducing the impact on wildlife of hunting by cats
  • Reducing disturbance caused to neighbours.

However, containment without adequate environmental enrichment may lead to physical and psychological restrictions and poor quality of life for cats.  Cats that are unaccustomed to being contained may suffer distress if suddenly restricted. This may lead to development of behavioural problems which may increase relinquishment rates, both of which are undesirable from an animal welfare perspective.  Lack of adequate exercise may lead to conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

Recommendations

Where cats are contained, steps should be taken to ensure that adequate exercise and environmental enrichment are available to provide sufficient physical and psychological stimulation.

Cats contained to an owner’s property should have access to an outdoor escape-proof enclosure to provide activity and stimulation. These enclosures must not be electrified.

Ideally, cats should be trained to be contained early i.e. as young kittens. Young kittens that are raised within the owner’s boundary (and have access to an outdoor enclosure) are less likely to suffer behavioural distress.

Environmental enrichment in the form of climbing structures, hiding areas, safe toys and scratching posts should be provided. A leash and harness may be used to walk cats outside the owner’s property under direct supervision. Having two compatible pet cats living together can also help to provide company and environmental enrichment for contained cats. Talk to your veterinarian about desexing which will reduce the cat’s desire to roam, and also the use of pheromone sprays and diffusers which can help to reduce stress in cats.

If new suburbs in Canberra introduce legislated cat containment it is important that potential residents are made aware of this requirement prior to entry.  Support should be provided to help owners ensure the well-being of their contained cats, in the form of information and guidelines on appropriate enclosures and environmental enrichment.

For pre-existing suburbs, cat containment may be encouraged through educational campaigns which emphasise the need for concurrent environmental enrichment. However any introduction of compulsory requirements should follow an appropriate consultation and phase-in period to accommodate cats that are currently unaccustomed to confinement.  These cats should be allowed to adjust through a gradual reduction in time spent beyond the property and provision of a suitable outdoor enclosure. Government support is recommended in the form of educational material and the provision of low cost affordable outdoor enclosures.

The AVA’s policy on Cat Management in Australia can be viewed here: http://www.ava.com.au/policy/132-management-cats-australia

 

Containment of owned pet cats – AVA ACT Division (1)