eNewsletter March 2017

 


Newsletter

March 2017


Welcome to our March 2017 newsletter.

In this edition we launch new projects on disaster resilience, showcase Council efforts to Beat the Heat during our recent record breaking summer, and update you on the range of activities being delivered through our regional waste, contaminated land and flying fox programs. Greater detail can also be found in our February 2017 Program Report.

Contents:

    1. New funding for Disaster Resilience Projects
    2. Councils “Beat the Heat” During Record Summer Temperatures
    3. You got the Power! – Household Battery Recycling Campaign
    4. Love Your Local landscapes? Don’t Dump on Them
    5. Eat Well, Save Money, Reduce Waste!
    6. Small Acts Big Change – Connecting Communities and Council Services
    7. Wallsend Touch Footy “Put it in the Bin”
    8. Waste Strategy Review
    9. New Era for Underground Petroleum Storage Systems
    10. Assessing Contamination through the DA process
    11. High Temperatures Take Toll on Local Flying Foxes
    12. Inquiry into Flying Fox Management in the Eastern States
    13. Beetles Big on Biodiversity
    14. Notices
    15. Events
    16. Mapping
    17. Reading

New Funding for Disaster Resilience Projects

Great News! Funding applications submitted to the NSW State Emergency Management Projects (SEMP) program and Community Resilience Innovation Program (CRIP) have been successful. These projects will directly support Councils and Community Service Organisations be better prepared for natural disasters.

The first grant will assist Councils across NSW integrate disaster resilience planning across the range of core functions and services they provide (e.g. land use planning, community development and support, infrastructure management, community education, communications, environmental management and local emergency management).

The second grant will provide direct support to Community Service Organisations (CSOs) across the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid Coast region to develop Business Continuity Plans (BCPs), using the “6 Steps to Resilience” framework developed by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS).

More Information:

Steve Wilson – Deputy Director
P: 4978 4026
E: stevew@huntercouncils.com.au

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Councils “Beat the Heat” During Record Summer Temperatures

With the Hunter having recently experienced its hottest summer on record, Councils around the region have been actively using the regional “Beat the Heat”  communication resources to raise the awareness and preparedness of local communities and staff to the extreme temperatures. Examples include:

  • Promoting Council libraries and other facilities as “Community Cool Spots”
  • Promoting “Beat the Heat” messages and tips through Council social media and websites, local events, activities and media outlets
  • Extending operating hours of Council pool and lifeguard services
  • Raising awareness of heatwave risks and disseminating “Beat the Heat” messages through local Community Service Interagency Networks and Health Committees.
  • Dissemination of regional “Beat the Heat” communication resources through local GP clinics, childcare centres, nursing homes and pharmacies
  • A range of staff education programs on managing heat stress in the workplace.

More Information:

Steve Wilson – Deputy Director
P: 4978 4026
E: stevew@huntercouncils.com.au

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You’ve got the Power! Household Battery Recycling Campaign

Congratulations to Maitland City Council, who were recently awarded the “Overall Regional Sustainability Award” at this year’s Blue Star Sustainability Awards. Maitland received four category awards as well as the overall award. Congratulations also to Midcoast Council who received three awards and Port Stephens Council who received two. 

These awards have grown out of the Sustainable Cities, Clean Beaches and Tidy Towns Awards Programs, and recognise and celebrate the hard work of NSW citizens who promote responsible environmental management in their local area.

More Information:

Chantelle Sage – Regional Waste Education Coordinator
P: 4978 4028
E: chantelles@huntercouncils.com.au

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Love your Local Landscapes? Please Don’t Dump on Them

Bus backs and billboards across the region are currently featuring images and messages that appeal to the community’s emotional connection with their local landscape, and encourage them not to dump their waste illegally. This regional campaign aims to complement the Hunter Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Squads’ enforcement activities with an educational approach.

More Information:

Chantelle Sage – Regional Waste Education Coordinator
P: 4978 4028
E: chantelles@huntercouncils.com.au

 

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Eat Well, Save Money, Reduce Waste!

A year-long project delivered in partnership with the University of Newcastle has recently hosted its final event and delivered some much needed knowledge and skills to residential students at the Callaghan Campus. This project sought to understand why students waste food and developed skills, tools and resources to positively change behaviours.

A toolkit of resources to assist students eat well, save money and keep edible food from ending up in landfill has been completed, and are now available on our website. They include:

  • A blank “meal planner” and “shopping list” to help students plan meals and only buy what they need
  • A locally developed cookbook full of simple, nutritionally suitable recipes submitted by staff and students of the University – with every recipe tested and voted on prior to its inclusion. It also includes details on food preparation and storage, cooking tips and information on where to source fresh produce.

More Information:

Emma Grezl- Regional Waste Project Officer
P: 4978 4022
E: emmag@huntercouncils.com.au

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Small Acts Big Change – Connecting Communities and Council Services

A new and improved “Small Acts Big Change” website is now live. This new site improves alignment with more recent waste program activities and with member Council websites.  A key new feature includes an interactive map of the region which allows users to connect with their local recycling services.

More Information:

Chantelle Sage – Regional Waste Education Coordinator
P: 4978 4028
E: chantelles@huntercouncils.com.au

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Wallsend Touch Footy “Put it in the Bin”

The recent opening night of the 2017 touch football season was a great opportunity to launch one of our three regional litter projects at the Wallsend Touch Clubhouse in the Newcastle area. Around 250 local players were at the launch that encouraged them to use the bins during their weekly games to minimise litter.  All players were encouraged to sign an anti-litter pledge along with their club registration forms, and club management has vowed to keep highlighting the anti-littering message throughout the season. The launch saw the clubhouse surrounded by five tear-drop banners with “LITTER! This sporting field is yours to enjoy” messaging while the club’s public place waste bins are also now labelled with “Put it in the Bin” stickers.

More Information:

Michael Neville – Regional Waste Program Manager
P: 4978 4034
E: michaeln@huntercouncils.com.au

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Waste Strategy Review

A major review of the Hunter Regional Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (WARR) Strategy is now underway. Outcomes will directly inform the strategic focus and nature of activities to be delivered over the next four years of the Regional Waste Program. A big thank you to the many Council staff who continue to be involved in the evaluation and planning activities underpinning this process.

More Information:

Michael Neville – Regional Waste Program Manager
P: 4978 4034
E: michaeln@huntercouncils.com.au

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New Era for Underground Petroleum Storage Systems (UPSS)

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2014 prescribes the statutory requirements for the management and operation of UPSS infrastructure in NSW. The NSW EPA is the current regulatory authority for implementing the Regulation; but this will transfer to local councils in the coming years. To assist with the transition, we delivered a regional forum in February to provide:

  • An overview of UPSS infrastructure and key contamination issues
  • An update on the handover of regulatory responsibility and overview of functions and activities that will be required of Councils
  • An overview of the NSW Derelict Underground Petroleum Storage Systems – Council Road Reserve Program
  • Case studies of current systems and processes put in place by Councils to prepare for the regulatory handover, and of Council experiences in remediating derelict UPSS sites.

The forum attracted over forty participants, with representatives attending from all Councils of the region, as well as from the NSW EPA, MIDROC, RAMROC/REROC, and Coffs Harbour, Sutherland, Hastings and Bellingen Councils. Workshop outcomes are available on our website.

Following on from the forum, we are now coordinating delivery of joint Council–EPA training inspections of UPSS located within each Council area.  These aim to build the skills and capacity of each Council to effectively audit service stations in preparation for the regulatory transfer. All nine Councils participating in the Regional Contaminated Land Program have expressed interest in this process, with inspections having already commenced in the Mid Coast Council area.


More Information:

Anna Lundmark – Regional Program Manager – Contaminated Land
P: 4978 4023
E: anna.lundmark@huntercouncils.com.au

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Assessing Contamination through the DA process

Anna Lundmark, our Regional Program Manager (Contaminated Land) is now delivering training directly to planning staff in each council as part of our contaminated land “in house” support program. This “Assessing Contamination through the Planning Process” training is focused on:

  • Legislative obligations for considering contamination
  • Managing contamination through conditions of consent
  • Triggers and processes for  identifying whether contamination is likely to be an issue
  • Investigation steps required to evaluate and manage contamination
  • Requirements of consultants reporting on contaminated land
  • The role of and process for engaging Independent Site Auditors

More Information:

Anna Lundmark – Regional Program Manager – Contaminated Land
P: 4978 4023
E: anna.lundmark@huntercouncils.com.au

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High Temperatures take toll on local Flying Foxes

Flying Fox deaths across NSW during the recent February heatwaves has highlighted just how vulnerable these important species are to ecological and climatic change. At Singleton, at least 900 bats were found dead in Burdekin Park alone following the 47°C temperatures. Wildlife Aid groups identified this as the worst heat stress-related deaths experienced in more than 10 years.

Across the Region we are continuing to work with Councils to develop local Flying Fox Camp Management Plans for key local roosting and breeding areas.  Activities recently completed include ecological assessments of each camp, design of community engagement plans (the delivery of which will be managed by each Council), and specialised training to Council staff on “Managing Community Outrage” around local flying fox issues.

More Information:

Bradley Nolan – Director, Environment Division
P: 4978 4024
E: envirodirector@huntercouncils.com.au

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Inquiry into Flying Fox Management in Eastern States

In November 2016 The Commonwealth House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy conducted a short inquiry into the impact of nationally protected flying-foxes on communities in the eastern states of Australia. In collaboration with member Councils, we prepared a submission to the inquiry detailing the issues and concerns of member Councils.  A copy can be viewed on the “news” page of our website.

The Inquiry’s findings were released on 27th February. They recommend developing a suite of education resources for Australian communities regarding flying-fox ecology, behaviour, environmental significance, health impacts, and management options, and promotion of these to local councils, communities, businesses and all relevant stakeholders in affected and potentially affected jurisdictions.

This strongly aligns with our recently commenced Regional Flying Fox Community Education project. This $100,000 Environmental Trust funded initiative will develop and implement a regional flying fox community awareness and engagement protocol across the region, including research, design and development of a Flying Fox Community Education Resource Kit.

More Information:

Bradley Nolan – Director, Environment Division
P: 4978 4024
E: envirodirector@huntercouncils.com.au

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Beetles Big on Biodiversity

Our work with Cessnock City Council to restore endangered Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest in the Hunter River Reserve at Greta, has enlisted the help of a South American native, the Madeira beetle. Around 200 beetles have been released to control the noxious weed, Madeira Vine, of which dense infestations are located across the site. Releasing the beetle aims to reduce chemical use and improve worker safety, by avoiding the need to work in very steep and inaccessible gullies where many of the Madeira vine infestations are concentrated.  Recent monitoring has shown promising results that the beetle is defoliating target infestations.

More Information:

Eva Twarkowski – Senior Ecologist
P: 4978 4029
E: evat@huntercouncils.com.au

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Council Roadside Reserves Environmental Grants (Hunter Information Workshop)

Monday, 27th March 2017
10.30am – 1.30pm
The Best Western Hunter Gateway, Rutherford

Local Government NSW has developed a Council Roadside Environmental Management Framework (CREMF) to streamline roadside environmental management in councils. Grants are now available for councils to participate in piloting the Framework state-wide. A total of $1.46 million in funding will be available through a contestable grants process, including up to $50,000 for individual councils and $80,000 for newly amalgamated councils and regional collaborations. This regional workshop will explain the grant opportunities that are available.

The Council Roadside Reserve (CRR) Project is a three year project funded by the NSW Environmental Trust and managed by LGNSW. Further information will also be provided on the LGNSW website.

Contact:

Kirsty McIntyre – Senior Policy Officer – Natural Resource Management – LGNSW
P (02) 9242 4055
E kirsty.mcintyre@lgnsw.org.au

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NSW Environmental Trust Environmental Education Grants

The 2017 Environmental Education Grants Program is now open for Expressions of Interest.

The aim of the program is to support educational projects or programs that develop or widen the community’s knowledge of, skills in, and commitment to, protecting the environment and promoting sustainable behaviour.

EOI’s close 3pm Monday 10 April 2017.

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EVENTS CORK

Managing Contamination on Council Land

Thursday, 30th March 2017
9.45am – 3.00pm
The Best Western Hunter Gateway, Rutherford

As land managers, Councils have the responsibility to ensure that any contamination on either community or operational land (such as public parks, sport fields, road reserves, and landfill sites) resulting from the Site’s history does not cause harm to the environment or public health. Common historical land uses contributing to contamination of Council managed lands include former landfills, nightsoil sites, gasworks, mines, council depots, uncontrolled fill, and derelict underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS). This forum will focus on:

  • Councils’ obligations for managing contamination on their land
  • Common contamination issues experienced on Council managed lands
  • Triggers for Council’s duty to report contamination to the EPA
  • The development of systems, procedures, and policies for identifying and managing contamination
  • Case studies of management systems implemented by Councils and NSW Department of Lands

Contact:

Anna Lundmark – Regional Program Manager – Contaminated Land
P: 4978 4023
E: anna.lundmark@huntercouncils.com.au

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Stream Rehabilitation Workshop and Field Trip

Friday, 24th March 2017
9.15am – 4.00pm
Wallsend District Library, Wallsend

Newcastle City Council and NSW Soil Conservation Service are running this event in conjunction with the International Erosion Control Association, which will provide participants with the opportunity to hear from Karenne Jurd of Newcastle City Council (Asset Program Coordinator – Environment Infrastructure Planning) and Dan Brown of the NSW Soil Conservation Service; who will explain the rehabilitation process and works utilised at Ironbark / Blue Wren Creek Elermore Vale.

The day will begin with a workshop session to present illustrations of the site before work began and how the team dealt with erosion and sediment control issues. After lunch, Michael Frankcombe from IECA Australasia will present on stream processes, natural channel design concepts and revegetation. Participants will then walk along the creek to view the completed work and discuss all aspects of stream rehabilitation.

Contact:

Angus Weingott – Environmental Education officer – Natural Assets, Newcastle City Council
P: 4974 2622
E: aweingott@ncc.nsw.gov.au

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Towards Sustainable Disaster Recovery

Tuesday, 28th March 2017
9.00am – 4.00pm
Maitland Town Hall, Maitland

The Australian Red Cross will be hosting this free conference and workshop focusing on Sustainable Disaster Recovery. The event seeks to:

  • Increase knowledge and understanding of natural disaster recovery
  • Increase awareness of the role of recovery in providing a seamless approach to community disaster management
  • Improve understanding of the roles of emergency management agencies
  • Contribute to regional development by identifying strategies to increase local community recovery initiatives
  • Collaboratively develop strategies for improved community integration into preparing for recovery from a disaster at the local level.

Key event speakers will include:

  • Andrew Coghlan, National Emergency Services Manager, Australian Red Cross, who will share his international and domestic disaster management and community development experiences and inform on the value of a seamless approach
  • Wendy Graham, NSW Office of Emergency Management, Ministry of Justice, who will outline the Emergency Management roles and highlight the range of resources available to aid day to day operational activities
  • Dr Rob Gordon, a clinical psychologist, with over 30 years experience in community disaster recovery including the aftermath of the Bali bombings, Christchurch Earthquake, Black Saturday, Canberra Firestorm, Tasmanian and Blue Mountains bushfires and other large-scale disasters.

Contact:

Carolyn Townson – Emergency Services Regional Coordinator, Australian Red Cross
P: 4941 3209
E: ctownson@redcross.org.au

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Battery Storage for Your Business

Wednesday, 3rd May 2017 -Lake Macquarie (PLUS Webinar on 3 April 2017)
Thursday, 4th May 2017 – Newcastle (PLUS introductory webinar on 3 April 2017)

These training courses delivered through the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) will provide participants with the knowledge, skills and tools for integrating battery storage systems into their business. The course is run by industry experts who will provide an interactive learning experience. These events represent the first of two half-day workshops that constitute the course. The course is heavily subsidised by the NSW Government, meaning participants receive access to up to $3,000 worth of support for only $200 per participant.

Contact:

Rosy Rose – Regional Coordinator – Regional Clean Energy Program, Office of Environment & Heritage
P: (02) 9995 5777
E: rosy.rose@environment.nsw.gov.au

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Energy Essentials Workshop for Households

Tuesday, 9th May 2017 (Gosford)
Wednesday, 10th May 2017 (Singleton)
Thursday, 11th May 2017 (Newcastle)
Friday, 12th May 2017 (Forster)

Solar is an increasingly popular way for NSW households to save on energy bills, avoid future price rises and reduce their carbon footprint. This workshop, delivered by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) will provide the information, tools and resources to help households decide if a solar option is right for them. Participants will also learn energy saving tips, from choosing the most energy efficient appliances, to calculating heating and cooling running costs, draught-proofing and cost-effective lighting.

Contact:

Rosy Rose – Regional Coordinator – Regional Clean Energy Program, Office of Environment & Heritage
P: (02) 9995 5777
E: rosy.rose@environment.nsw.gov.au

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mapping-cork-board-jpeg

Here at the Environment Division we manage an extensive repository of local and regional spatial data and mapping resources, developed and updated over many years, which are available to our member Councils.  Resources cover a range of parameters including: Soil Landscapes, NPWS Atlas, Species Distribution Models, Conservation and Connectivity, Endangered Ecological Communities and Threatened Species, Agricultural Land, Land Tenure, Climate Change Mapping & Modelling, Climactic variables, Water features and Topography.

Each newsletter we aim to highlight a different mapping resource that is available. This time we profile the “Lower Hunter Vegetation Mapping” dataset.


Lower Hunter Vegetation Mapping 2013

This dataset is the most reliable and recent regional vegetation map of the Lower Hunter. It is a composite map of the best available mapping at the time of production (2013), and includes refinement of mapping in the Cessnock Local Government Area.

The dataset also brings together a number of vegetation classification vegetation map unit codes and translates them into the NSW Plant Community Types (PCTs). The Lower Hunter Vegetation Map can be used to inform regional planning and provide strong context for site based management actions, such as rehabilitation.

The custodian of this data is the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy.

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Angry Summer Report 2016/2017

This recently released report by the Australian Climate Council documents the extreme records experienced over the 2016/17 Australian summer, including record-breaking heat in the east of the nation, while heavy rainfall and flooding affected the west of the country. Noteworthy records include:

  • In just 90 days, more than 205 records were broken around Australia.
  • The state-wide mean temperature in summer was the hottest for New South Wales since records began, with temperatures 2.57°C above average.
  • Sydney had its hottest summer on record with a mean temperature 2.8°C above average.
  • Moree in regional New South Wales experienced 54 consecutive days of temperatures 35°C or above, a record for the state.

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Minimising the Impact of Extreme Heat: A Guide for Local Government

This Guide, produced by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, seeks to clarify the roles and responsibilities relating to extreme heat events and examines ways in which local councils can minimise the impacts of such events by adapting their existing systems, procedures and activities. The Guide reinforces the significant role that councils can play in building the capacity and resilience of their communities to the threat posed to their health and wellbeing by extreme heat events.

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Heatwave Planning Guide

This Guide, produced by Hunter Councils through the recent Regional Heatwave Resilience Project,  provides support and guidance to encourage more active and collaborative planning and activity within the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid Coast region to reduce the direct and indirect impacts of heatwaves. It addresses not only short term preparation and response to individual heatwave events, but provides recommended approaches for building the long term resilience of communities to this natural hazard that is increasing in both frequency and intensity.

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Paradise Lost, The Weakening and Widening of NSW Biodiversity Offsetting Schemes 2005-2016

This report by the Australian Conservation Council, reviews the performance of five existing biodiversity offsets schemes in NSW. It concludes that:

  1. Biodiversity offsets schemes in NSW are failing to deliver the environmental outcomes governments and policy makers have promised and the design and performance of these schemes is declining.
  2. The proposed Draft Biodiversity Offsets Methodology (BAM) established under the new NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act, sets lower standards and drifts further from best practice than the underperforming schemes it is intended to replace
  3. Implementing the BAM will in fact add extinction pressures to the very species and ecological communities offsetting is supposed to protect by facilitating the more rapid and widespread destruction of threatened species habitat across NSW.

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