Yellow Box Dispatch December 2015
It’s our final Yellow Box Dispatch for a very big year. In 2015, we’ve achieved the largest climate change event in Canberra’s history, supported a Canberra-first local food policy discussion, contributed valuable environmental advice to dozens of Government and private sector processes, grown our community of member groups and supporters and so much more.
We look ahead to 2016, a year with so much work to do. With a local and Federal election, we have the opportunity to keep our environment on the agenda of decision makers and engage more of our community. I look forward to working with you on our important work in the New Year. For now, have a safe, relaxing holiday season, and I hope you have a chance to connect with and enjoy our natural environment.
Executive Director, Conservation Council ACT Region
We did it! The Canberra People’s Climate March was the largest climate event in our history. We joined three quarters of a million people across the world sending a powerful message on the eve of the Paris climate talks.
We demonstrated Canberra’s commitment to leadership on climate policy: and it’s not just international talks that make a difference. Canberra’s local climate policy is a world leader. In the next few months we have the opportunity to protect and strengthen the ACT’s critical climate change policies. With the review of the ACT emissions reduction ‘Action Plan 2‘ complete, and a 2016 election, it’s time to strengthen our climate policy.
The ACT Climate Change Council has recommended the Government adopt interim targets for each 5 year period reaching zero emissions by 2050. The Council’s plan speeds up our emissions reduction. The Conservation Council supports faster emissions cuts, as climate change is moving faster than we expected. And we can do even better.
Join our campaign calling for zero emissions by 2040, and 100% renewable energy by 2025. Let’s tell the decision-makers that we are proud of Canberra’s climate leadership and stay ahead of the pack.
The Conservation Council has been keeping a close eye on waste issues. Canberra is one of the worst waste cities in Australia, and in the past we have responded with strong waste policies. It’s clear we need to strengthen our waste plans.
The Conservation Council is currently part of the Commercial Reference Group for the ACT Waste Feasibility Study as well as the Community Reference Group and the ‘Key Influencers’ group.
The Government has released the consultation draft of the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Bill 2015 which is on the Time to Talk website closing 23 December 2015. We have been told that they actually will be working on the legislation over the Christmas-New Year break in order to meet Cabinet and legislation timetables. This legislation will set the framework for matters considered under the waste feasibility study.
We need to focus on reducing our waste, to avoid new landfill sites and reduce our impact on the environment.
The Conservation Council has been attending the December community consultations on cat containment around the Jerrabomberra Wetlands and in the suburb of Casey. Domestic cat containment is an important and relatively simple step in protecting our local wildlife. With modest attendance by residents to the consultations, and much interest in the implementation of cat containment, it might be time for the Government to properly consider declaring Canberra a cat containment city. The Conservation Council has been calling for this policy to come into place in ten years, and we’re confident we could do it now. Let’s make 2016 the year we started to love our cats, and nature, too.
The CSIRO is using a review of the National Capital Plan to ask that its Ginninderra Field station on the Barton Highway be rezoned as a ‘future urban area’. However it has also stated that “approximately 150 hectares of the land is unlikely to be developable due to its topography, heritage and ecological values, and will likely remain open space”.
The CSIRO has not identified this area through its website, consultations or in response to questions from the Conservation Council and others. The Conservation Council’s view is that it is not appropriate to change this area to ‘future urban area’ then later go back to identify environmental values. The CSIRO proposal should also take account of broader environmental factors including nearby areas especially with regard to ecological connectivity including wildlife corridors and riparian areas along Ginninderra Creek.
As a general position planning in Canberra, including for the CSIRO, should start with working out what areas might be suitable for urban development, before we start planning the urban development, and then undertake investigations to establish what environmental values are to be protected.
ActewAGL Distribution is proposing to ask the ACT Government to approve a regulatory change to increase prescribed vegetation clearance distances with the potential for significant future removal of native vegetation in the ACT.
The regulation has been in place since 2001 and applies to about 2,400 kilometres of overhead electricity lines. The proposed increased vegetation clearing will apply mostly to non-urban areas and will increase from 33% (1.5 metres to 2 metres) to 250% (2 metres to 5 metres) depending on the zone and the voltage of the wires. The clearances apply to both sides of the conductors and there will be an ADDITIONAL allowance of 0.5 to 2 metres for regrowth.
The ActewAGL Distribution Consultation Paper Vegetation Management Proposal – Rural and bushfire abatement zones in the ACT is open for comments by email or writing a letter (you might have to Google that) to Peter Cunningham PO Box 366 Canberra ACT 2601 by Friday 29 January 2016. Please share your views with us.
The Legislative Assembly on 18 November discussed funding of invasive weed management in the ACT. Liberal MLA Nicole Lawder moved a motion asking for the weeds budget to be restored and the Weeds Advisory Group to be re-instated. Minister Shane Rattenbury moved an amendment basically saying weeds management had benefitted through an increase in recurrent funding base (even though overall funding has dropped by 29%) and that the Weeds Advisory Group meets twice a year. The Minister also issued a media release “Increased base funding allows for long term strategic weed management” and sent a similar message to constituents.
While the Conservation Council agrees it is important to increase base funding for weeds there should not be double-counting of offsets (which should stand alone) or short-term initiatives. Even using all the Government’s figures overall weed management funding has gone down by $653,000, nearly 30%, over the last year.
The Conservation Council prepared a working version of the Government’s spreadsheet published following June 2015 Estimates questions and we provided this to all parties prior to the Assembly debate.
The Conservation Council’s view is that there should be ongoing indexed funding for environmental weed management of just over $2 million per year plus additional funding for special projects.
We understand that a December meeting of the Weeds Advisory Group has now been convened by the Government and, along with the February 2015 meeting, there will have been two meetings this year. Phew.
Join us for a screening and panel following on from the People’s Climate March. Hear more about the causes & impacts of climate change, and what we can do in Canberra to tackle it.
What: Acclaimed documentary ‘This Changes Everything,’ followed by panel with climate scientist & campaigners.
When: 6:15pm, Monday 14 December
Where: Manuka Cinema
Friends of Grasslands has just released a new Woodland Flora Guide book.
Authored by local experts, discover 440 species in our region with this easy to use guide on your next walk.
Join Friends of Jerrabomberra Wetlands to see first hand how to care for our local ecosystems, and lend a hand. Discover birds, frogs, insects and plants, and work at a pace that suits you.
When: 9am, Saturday 19 December
Where: Meet at 2 Dairy Flat Road, Fyshwick
More information: See wetlands website here.
We are a voice for the environment in the ACT region.
As a non-profit, non-government organisation we rely on donations to continue our work. Please donate here to allow our work to continue. Thank you![email protected] | www.conservationcouncil.org.auContact the Conservation Council
14/26 Barry Drive
(GPO Box 544)