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                    [post_content] => 

 

NSW councils tentative on housing affordability package 

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has welcomed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s ‘promising ideas’ in the state’s new housing affordability package but said the reforms were ‘somewhat light on detail’.

The reforms include stamp duty concessions for first home buyers, changes to the first home buyer’s grant, higher taxes on foreign investors and accelerating council-led rezonings and development application approvals.

"LGNSW congratulates the government on its efforts to do what it can to support housing affordability, and there's nothing we'd like more to do than to come out and praise their efforts,” LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said.

"Unfortunately until there is more detailed information available it really seems to be a case of the devil will lie in the detail."

Mr Rhoades said the sector welcomed many components of the package, including the ‘very positive’ move to lift the cap on development contributions to ensure new homes had the necessary infrastructure to support them, like footpaths, roads and parks.

He also cautiously welcomed the announcement of funding of up to $2.5 million for ‘growth priority councils’ to help councils update their Local Environment Plans quicker.

"It's great news that these ten to 15 councils will be supported to plan for future growth, but we are a little concerned at the suggestion that councils should accelerate the rezoning of land," Mr Rhoades said.

 "Rezoning needs good strategic planning at a local level, and it's important that we don't give this up in the pursuit of speed at all costs.”

He said it was unclear whether the government’s new guidelines around protecting the local character of communities would have much force.

However, Mr Rhoades said councils were pleased the government had not moved straight to mandatory independent planning panels for deciding larger development applications.

"These panels work very effectively for some councils, but other councils don't see the need for them - it really needs to be a matter of local choice.”

 

Digital marketplace for smart cities

Local councils can now use the Digital Transformation Agency’s (DTA) Digital Marketplace platform to collaborate on smart city projects, including smart lighting, rubbish collection and infrastructure modelling.

The new functionality, which is expected to become permanent, was introduced to help councils find suppliers for the innovative products and services they need to deliver smart city ideas.

“There is a great appetite for innovation within local councils, who are at the forefront of smart city initiatives,” Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said.

“Already 25 per cent of registered buyers on the Digital Marketplace are local government and there are more than 400 sellers who can provide the digital expertise they need to transform their communities.”

There are already some exciting projects up on the Digital Marketplace, such as Sunshine Coast’s underground waste collection project and Ipswich Council’s 5D data modelling, which brings together streams of data to build a five-dimensional view of the city’s infrastructure.

The Marketplace is supporting the federal government’s Smart Cities Plan and complements the $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.

Applications for the first round of the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program close on 30 June 2017. 


Eight Sydney councils will offer residents free energy advice 

Eight Sydney councils will offer free energy advice to residents through the Our Energy Future partnership, going live on World Environment Day, Monday 5 June.

Eight councils are working with Our Energy Future: Inner West, Bayside, City of Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown City, Georges River, City of Parramatta, Randwick City, and City of Sydney.

Our Energy Future (formerly Our Solar Future) will involve an energy advice website, phone line and free, no-obligation quotes on solar and assessment services.

Users can find information such as trusted solar and storage battery retailers and installers and tips on improving the energy efficiency of their homes and workplaces.

For a discounted rate, Our Energy Future experts can also conduct comprehensive energy assessments to offer more tailored advice.  

Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) President Councillor Sally Betts said she was excited about the launch.

“We’re delighted that Our Energy Future and SSROC have been able to come together with eight councils to deliver financial savings to our local residents,” she said.

Our Energy Future is coordinated by Positive Charge, a not-for-profit social enterprise.

“Our organisation has its foundations in working with local government to reduce emissions and increase the use of renewable and energy efficiency technologies,” said Manager Positive Charge Kate Nicolazzo.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with SSROC to bring this award-winning service to Sydney-region residents,” she said.

SSROC General Manager Namoi Dougall said, “Our Energy Future is a key element of SSROC’s Renewable Energy Master Plan, and will be run by Positive Charge for a 15-month pilot.”
                    [post_title] => Around the councils: Digital Marketplace open for smart cities; Response to NSW housing reforms
                    [post_excerpt] => And eight Sydney council's energy efficiency push. 
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                    [post_content] => 

 

 

By Mace Hartley, executive director, Australasian Fleet Management Association (AFMA)
Australia takes its time adapting to change. Electric vehicle benefits remain unrealised, so what more can we do?

Impressively, 2016 was a record year for new vehicle sales driven largely by business and rental markets with private sales delivering the worst result since 2013. For the first time since 2013 non-private sales exceeded half of total new vehicle sales (excluding heavy vehicles).

The Paris Agreement in November 2015 saw over 190 countries - including Australia, US, India and China - sign an agreement to limit global warming to well below 2.0 degrees Celsius, aiming for 1.5 degrees. The agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and was ratified by Australia on 9 November 2016.

Australia set ambitious targets to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which builds on the 2020 target of reducing emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels. Further, Australia committed to contributing towards the global goal of reaching net zero emissions by the second half of this century.

Transport represents 18 per cent of Australia’s total emissions. Within this, road transport accounts for 85 per cent with the largest impact being cars and light commercial vehicles at 72 per cent.

Given vehicles represent a huge portion of Australia’s emissions you would think sales of alternative fueled vehicles would increase. Whilst diesel has made inroads, electric vehicles (EVs) had their worst result since 2013 with step declines from 2014 and 2015, and LPG-only vehicles continue to decline as they are no longer available in Australia. (Table 1)

So, what’s stopping the uptake of EVs?

There are many factors, with high vehicle price, lack of suitable vehicles and charging infrastructure topping the list. Wealthy private buyers with higher disposable cash are purchasing Teslas and BMW i3s with few other options available, whilst non-private fleets struggle to find a vehicle fit-for-purpose at reasonable pricing with Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi iMEV no longer available.

What’s going to change?

The government has recently released two draft Regulation Impact Statements for discussion and feedback. They’re called “Improving the Efficiency of New Light Vehicles” which considers the introduction of mandatory fuel efficiency standards which 80 per cent of the global light vehicle market already has in place in the US, EU, Canada, China, South Korea and India (amongst others), and “Vehicle Emissions Standards for Cleaner Air”, which considers the introduction of more stringent noxious emissions standards for light and heavy road vehicles which again already exists in most developed countries.

How will “improving the efficiency of new light vehicles” drive an increase in EV sales?

The term efficiency in this case relates to the grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometer a vehicle produces. In 2015 the average efficiency of new light vehicles sold in the EU was 120g/km whilst Australia was 184g/km. There is a range of ways to introduce targets; an example from overseas, manufacturers must meet average efficiency targets across their entire vehicle portfolio. This means they can still offer higher emission vehicles but need to sell more low emissions vehicles such as EVs to reduce their overall emissions.

In December, the government released its emissions projections for 2016 which includes a range of assumptions including that EVs will represent 0.5 per cent of new vehicle sales in 2020 and 15 per cent in 2030. For 2020 that’s an increase of 5,672 vehicles or 2,589 per cent over the 219 vehicles sold in 2016 and by 2030, an increase of over 176,000 vehicles or 80,594 per cent.

There’s clearly much to be done. Mandatory emission targets may increase the number of EVs on offer but simply increasing availability won’t necessarily increase demand. Both state and federal governments will need to consider incentives to drive private and non-private demand. State government levers could include reductions in stamp duty, lower registration costs, dedicated road lanes and preference parking.

The federal government already provides some incentive as EVs don’t pay fuel excise and other options could include removing FBT or lowering the luxury car tax for EVs. Whilst each of these measures will help, more is needed to reduce the purchase price of EVs in the short term before they reach price parity as the technology and demand matures.

It’s true the cost of EVs is reducing, driven primarily by the falling cost of battery packs, which can account for about a third of the cost of the entire vehicle. In 2015, battery prices fell by 35 per cent and continuing reductions in battery prices are projected to bring the total cost of ownership of EVs below that for conventional-fuel vehicles by 2025, eight years from now!

There is no doubt alternative fuel vehicles are important to Australia’s emissions targets but it’s unclear what’s going to jump start an increase in sales. There are many stakeholders working to support the uptake of low emissions vehicles, including the EV Council which has been established by industry to advise, advocate for and co-ordinate activities to support the uptake of electric vehicles, and the government continues to work through their options with the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions. Stay tuned!

 

Table 1: New Vehicle Sales (excl Heavy Vehicles)
  2013 2014 2015 2016
All Categories Total 1,104,531 1,081,899 1,123,224 1,145,024
Diesel 340,552 331,270 334,052 363,007
Electric 292 1,135 1,108 219
Hybrid 11,949 11,950 12,138 12,625
LPG 4,704 2,932 2,061 612
Petrol 747,034 734,612 773,865 768,561
         
All Categories Total 100% 100% 100% 100%
Diesel 30.83% 30.62% 29.74% 31.70%
Electric 0.03% 0.10% 0.10% 0.02%
Hybrid 1.08% 1.10% 1.08% 1.10%
LPG 0.43% 0.27% 0.18% 0.05%
Petrol 67.63% 67.90% 68.90% 67.12%
Table Note: This tables excludes Tesla vehicle sales as they choose not to contribute their data to VFACTS.   Stay ahead of the curve, don’t miss the 2017 Australasian Fleet Conference & Exhibition, May 11-12. Book Tickets: http://afma.net.au/conference2017/ Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => Electric vehicles – How can we do more? [post_excerpt] => Jump starting an increase in sales. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => electric-vehicles-can [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-17 10:08:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-16 23:08:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26551 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 4 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26217 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-10 10:36:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-09 23:36:46 [post_content] =>   NSW public buildings could double as chill out areas for the elderly and other people at risk trying to escape this weekend’s predicted heatwave, says the Opposition. As the state contemplates sweating through temperatures of up to 45 degrees in inland areas, Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has called upon NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to trial designating public buildings such as council chambers, libraries and art galleries as 'respite cooling centres' for the elderly and families. It has been done before. Mildura in Victoria has an emergency community cooling centre where the elderly can seek relief from the heat and the Canadian city of Toronto has opened cooling centers during heatwaves. Some Eastern European cities have heating centres during cold snaps. Mr Secord said public buildings with air-conditioning could stay open longer to provide shelter for people looking to avoid the extreme temperatures. “State governments need to have contingency plans for extraordinary events and extreme hot weather is one such event,” said Mr Secord. “We want to minimise the effect of heat stress on the most vulnerable in our society; this is about protecting them. Unfortunately, these soaring temperatures are set to continue – and they hit the young and the elderly the hardest.” He said it was easier for younger people and families to avoid the heat because they could go to shopping malls, the cinema, parks or beaches but the elderly and less mobile found this more difficult. NSW Health says those most at risk from the high temperatures are the elderly, pregnant women, babies and other children, people with chronic conditions and those whose immune systems are compromised. Meanwhile, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has predicted that demand for electricity in NSW will be the highest ever, peaking between 4.30pm and 6.30pm on Saturday, and expected to reach around 14,700 megawatts. NSW residents are being urged to reduce their energy use, where they can. Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin said people should turn up their air con to 26 degrees, adjust fridge temperatures and switch off appliances and lights, where possible. Mr Harwin said that despite the heat the electricity networks were comfortable there would be no break in supply. “We are working with AEMO, TransGrid and generators to ensure that all generation capacity is operating including coal, hydro, gas, wind and solar,” Mr Harwin said. “The government is taking additional steps to reduce peak demand, including in government operations. If required the networks will consider load shedding to manage peak demand.” Load shedding is where AEMO orders power companies to begin switching off customers’ power supply to protect the power system from black outs. “I am being kept up to date on the situation and if further action is to be taken we will make sure that the energy companies are informing their customers, and we will update the community as we know more,” he said. In other news, the Senate Select Committee into the Resilience of Electricity Infrastructure in a Warming World continues with a public hearing in Canberra today (Friday). The Committee will explore how Australia’s electricity networks will cope with increased power demands from severe weather events in the future, including exploring emerging technologies. The committee is due to report to the Senate on or before 24 March 2017.   [post_title] => Council chambers could be used as respite cooling centres during NSW heatwave [post_excerpt] => No blackouts, says government. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-chambers-used-respite-cooling-centres-heatwave [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-15 16:10:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-15 05:10:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26217 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25518 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-11-08 15:18:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-11-08 04:18:42 [post_content] => light-years-ahead2_opt Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Council's Light Years Ahead program     NSW local government environment stars have been busy over the past year, with projects encompassing a broad range of areas, including sustainable procurement; climate change action; asbestos management; communication, education and empowerment; roadside management and water conservation. The best of the best will be honoured in the annual Local Government Excellence in the Environment Awards later this month. The top two awards are for overall council performance and another celebrating the achievements of an individual council officer or councillor who has been a beacon to sustainability. Please see below for a full list of finalists. Winners will be announced at a ceremony on Tuesday 29 November 2016 at Doltone House, Darling Island Wharf, Sydney.   2016 Finalists Asbestos Management Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils - Western Sydney Asbestos Answers Facebook campaign Climate Change Action Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Holroyd, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, The Hills, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith Councils - Light years ahead Blacktown City Council - Cool streets Hunter & Central Coast Regional Environmental Management Strategy- Regional heatwave resilience project Penrith City Council - Cooling the city   Communication, Education and Empowerment   Leichhardt Municipal Council (Inner West Council) - On tour: sustainable food, fashion and fun! MIDWASTE - Frugal forest Rockdale City Council (Bayside Council) - Engaging the community: landing lights wetland restoration Waverley Council - Second Nature 'I'm in' community engagement campaign   frugal-forest_opt MIDWASTE'S Frugal Forest  Community Sharps Management City of Ryde Council – Sharps Disposal Invasive Species Management    Bankstown City Council (City of Canterbury-Bankstown) - Feral rabbit management in urban Bankstown Camden Council - Management of Australian white ibis at Lake Annan, Mount Annan Clarence Valley Council - Use community based social marketing for effective tropical soda apple management Palerang Council (Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council) - Weed identification and mapping from high resolution aerial photography   [caption id="attachment_25522" align="alignnone" width="500"]"Young Mountain Cottontail rabbit Sylvilagus nuttallii resting in grass. Boulder, Colorado, 2009." Former Bankstown Council has won praise for its management of feral rabbits.[/caption]   Natural Environment Policies, Planning and Decision Making     Palerang Council (Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council) - Remote pilot aircraft aerial imaging trial Sydney Peri Urban Network of Councils - Sydney food futures project   Natural Environment Protection & Enhancement: On-Ground Works Bankstown City Council (City of Canterbury-Bankstown) - Habitat box program Bathurst Regional Council - Restoring regent honeyeater habitat in the Bathurst region Blue Mountains City Council - Leura Falls catchment improvement project Orange City Council - Gosling Creek Reserve precinct floating island and hollows habitat Parkes Shire Council - PAC Park urban wetland construction Wagga Wagga City Council - Marrambidya Wetland Roadside Environmental Management    Ballina Shire Council - Chickiba Roadside Wetlands restoration project Lachlan Shire Council - Roadside corridor assessment and management guidelines Moree Plains Shire Council - Roadside environmental management plan Sustainable Procurement   Marrickville Council (Inner West Council) - Embedding sustainability into 'value for money'   marrickville-council-procurement_opt Former Marrickville Council's sustainable procurement campaign won plaudits   Resource Recovery    Broken Hill City Council - Increasing resource recovery for Broken Hill Campbelltown City Council - Annual free recyclables drop-off day     Waste Avoidance and Reuse    Lismore City Council - Lismore revolve shop and recycled market Parramatta City Council – The R3 program: resource, rescue and reuse Waste Education and Communication    Lachlan Shire Council - Lachlan Shire waste services rationalisation Warringah Council (Northern Beaches Council) - The Sort it Out campaign     Water Conservation Ballina Shire Council - Pressure and leakage management plan [caption id="attachment_25524" align="alignnone" width="460"]High pressure pipe leaking Finalist: Ballina Shire Council's Pressure and Leak Management Plan[/caption]     Local Sustainability Ballina Shire Council – Sustainability: serving the community of today whilst preparing for the challenges of tomorrow Camden Council - Sustainable Camden Louise Petchell Memorial Award for Individual Sustainability Winner to be announced at the Awards on Tuesday 29 November     [post_title] => Full list of finalists: NSW local government environment stars [post_excerpt] => Sharing good ideas. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => full-list-finalists-nsw-local-government-environment-stars [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-11-11 10:15:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-11-10 23:15:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25518 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25380 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2016-10-25 11:33:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-25 00:33:42 [post_content] => panama High rises and hotel buildings in Punta Pacifica, Panama City, Panama. Photo: Gerardo Pesantez/World Bank   By Anthony Wallace

An urban environment expert at The Australian National University (ANU) is among leading scientists calling for a greater say on a new international plan for cities of the future, ahead of a major United Nations conference currently being held. Professor Xuemei Bai from ANU is one of the scientific leaders of the Urban Knowledge Action Network to be launched at the UN Habitat III conference in Ecuador. Cities already account for about 75 per cent of global energy use and contribute an equivalent share of greenhouse gas emissions.” Delegates from the world over are currently in Quito to adopt a new global framework that will guide sustainable urban development for the next 20 years – the New Urban Agenda (NUA). “Unfortunately science didn’t play a major role in the drafting of the NUA,” said Professor Bai from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.   Read more here. This story first appeared in Spatial Source magazine. [post_title] => Urban experts call for smarter approach to cities [post_excerpt] => New urban agenda. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => urban-experts-call-smarter-approach-cities [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-10-28 11:35:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-10-28 00:35:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25380 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25228 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-10-10 15:30:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-10 04:30:39 [post_content] =>   chau-chuk-wan-building_opt   Frank Gehry’s mind-bending love letter to bricks, the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), has added another award to its trophy cabinet, this time for engineering. Engineering consultancy Arup won the Bradfield Award its role in bringing to life the Gehry-designed building at the Australia Engineering Excellence Awards in Sydney last week. The building, which houses the UTS Business School, was named after Australian-Chinese businessman and philanthropist Dr Chau Chak Wing, who donated $20 million towards the project. Judges praised its five-star green rating – it uses green concrete, high performance glazing, energy efficient lighting and services - and its undulating, free-form façade. Engineers Australia Sydney General Manager Greg Ewing said the building showcased the best of multi-disciplinary engineering. “This is a leading example of the strength of building engineering in Australia. Innovative applications have played a vital role in pushing the design concept to its structural limits and the result is this stunning, functional and environmentally sustainable building,” Mr Ewing said. “This 12-storey landmark stood out for its distinctive undulating brick and glass exterior, and its equally irregular interior characterised by amorphous floor plates and sloping columns. Engineers Australia congratulates Arup for its deserving win and bold design.” The building, which Gehry has described as a treehouse, won the commercial brick building award at the 2015 Think Brick awards. The complicated construction involved five different custom-made types of brick, heavily corbelled – an architectural technique where individual bricks project as the façade curves, giving it a fluidity. The AEEA Sydney 2016 winners are eligible to enter the national Australian Engineering Excellence Awards on 23 November 2016 in Brisbane. [post_title] => Gehry’s ‘squashed brown paper bag’ building wins more awards [post_excerpt] => Dr Chau Chak Wing Building engineering feat. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 25228 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-10-10 15:32:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-10-10 04:32:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25228 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25205 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2016-10-07 11:04:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-07 00:04:02 [post_content] => Image of a couple of petrol fuel pump nozzles on the pump at petrol station. One is unleaded E10 and has a green nozzle while the other is Unleaded 91 and has a yellow and dirty nozzle. Focus is on the Unleaded E10 nozzle that is formulated with ethanol. By Darren House Petrol retailers will be encouraged to seek compensation to recover costs if the Queensland Government’s biofuel mandate fails as many industry operators have predicted. The mandate, which comes into effect on January 1, 2017, requires all fuel retailers with 10 or more sites (or fuel retailers with any site selling more than 2ML of petrol per year) to sell methanol-blended petrol (such as E10) and biodiesel. Three per cent of the total volume of regular unleaded petrol sales and ethanol blended fuel sales by liable retailers must be biobased petrol (ethanol). The diesel mandate requires 0.5 per cent of all diesel fuel sold to be biobased. Read more here. This story first appeared in C&I Week. [post_title] => Queensland biofuel mandate rattles industry [post_excerpt] => Doomed to fail? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => queensland-biofuel-mandate-rattles-industry [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-10-07 11:07:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-10-07 00:07:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25205 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25139 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2016-09-29 16:34:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-29 06:34:44 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_25140" align="alignnone" width="300"]One of several collapsed electricity pylons near Melrose in South Australia's Mid North. ABC News / Tom Fedorowytsch photo. One of several collapsed electricity pylons near Melrose in South Australia's Mid North. ABC News / Tom Fedorowytsch photo.[/caption] Following the long and widespread electricity blackout in South Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took a swipe at Labor governments for their renewable targets, South Australia’s reliance on renewable electricity was widely defended, while NSW electricians are worried about it happening in that state. The Prime Minister Mr Turnbull said, reported in The Conversation, that there was no doubt that heavy reliance on intermittent renewables “does place very different strains and pressures on a grid than reliance on traditional base load power”. “Energy security should always be the key priority,” he said. “Now, I regret to say that a number of the state Labor governments have over the years set priorities and renewable targets that are extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic, and have paid little or no attention to energy security.” He said this was not just SA but the same observation could be made about Queensland and Victoria. Queensland to the rescue The Queensland Government-owned transmission company, Powerlink Queensland, has offered assistance to South Australia to restore its electricity supplies, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. Ms Palaszczuk said Powerlink had offered to assist ElectraNet with recovery efforts after storms severely damaged its electricity transmission network. Powerlink, on behalf of the Queensland Government, owned a minority stake in ElectraNet until December 2012. “Powerlink is uniquely placed to assist ElectraNet,” the Premier said. “Powerlink has contacted their colleagues at ElectraNet to let them know that Powerlink is here to help as required.” Powerlink Queensland chief executive Merryn York said Powerlink was mobilising special temporary tower structures that can replace damaged towers in the short term and help restore electricity supply in the safest possible manner. “Our expert design team can also provide rapid design solutions to help rebuild damaged infrastructure,” she said. “Powerlink can also provide on-the-ground crews to travel to South Australia and assist with restoration efforts.” It’s not the wind power It was reported by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) that the cause of the outages was the high winds bringing down powerlines, which would have caused the same outages regardless of the nature of generation. The Greens called Mr Turnbull’s attack on renewables reprehensible and reactionary. “The storms in South Australia show we need more renewable energy to tackle climate change, not less,” said the Greens’ energy & climate change spokesperson, Adam Bandt. “Using a severe storm to attack renewables is a reprehensible act from a Prime Minister who should know better. “Climate change is threatening our way of life and driving storms like the ones that we’ve seen in South Australia. “The storms and power outage in South Australia are a wake-up call, showing the country what will happen if we don’t get off fossil fuels and on to renewables. The Climate Council has called South Australia’s storm ‘a disturbing preview of what’s likely to come if Australia fails to act on climate change’, ‘occurring in a warmer and wetter atmosphere’. Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth Australia said the South Australian storm was a wake-up call to act on climate change and disaster preparedness. “As emergency workers assist South Australians with the fallout from a historic storm that knocked down multiple power lines, causing a blackout across the state, national environment organisation Friends of the Earth say the storm is a wake-up call to act on climate change and disaster preparedness. “Playing politics while South Australians deal with an unprecedented natural disaster is dangerous and the community expects better. The facts are that climate change is set to increase the number of extreme weather events, yet ideologues have wasted no time in blaming renewables for the state-wide blackout,” said Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth's campaigns coordinator. “Analysis of the National Electricity Market shows wind generators were providing reliable renewable energy at the time the storm hit and were ordered to shut down alongside all other generators.” The professionals agree… The leader of the body representing electrical professionals in South Australia has hit back at claims by political figures that South Australia’s commitment to renewable energy was the cause of last night’s state-wide blackout, saying that they were ill-informed and malicious. “The people making these claims don’t know what they’re talking about,” Communication Electrical and Plumbing Union South Australia secretary John Adley said. “The outage is simply being used by friends of the coal industry to bash renewables. “It doesn’t matter how you generate your electricity, when 22 transmission towers blow over in an extreme weather event, the power goes off.” Mr Adley said that, if anything, renewable energy sources had the potential to create a more secure electricity supply system. “When you have widespread use of distributed generation technologies like PV solar in homes, the network is actually less vulnerable to events like this, because your supply is not purely linear,” he said. “But an event of this magnitude that was capable of tripping out the interconnector with Victoria is going to cause havoc on an electricity grid without regard to the type of technology used to generate the power.” … and are worried The axing of more than 2,600 front-line power workers since 2012 has left NSW at risk of falling victim to similar chaos to that experienced in South Australia during the past 24 hours, the Electrical Trades Union has warned. The union said cuts, overseen by the state and federal governments over the past four years, had drastically reduced the number of skilled workers available to respond to major incidents, natural disasters and wild weather, leaving the public at risk of lengthy power outages. ETU assistant secretary Dave McKinley said the number of front-line power workers across NSW had shrunk by a quarter since 2012, leaving the state increasingly vulnerable to the kind of extreme weather event that struck South Australia. “What has occurred in South Australia could easily happen in NSW,” Mr McKinley said. “Whilst it is impossible to prevent network damage caused by wild winds and extreme weather, the ability to restore power for consumers is dependent on having the skilled workers available to respond. “In NSW, we have seen more than a quarter of the entire workforce slashed in the last four years, including 1,385 workers at Ausgrid, 446 from Endeavour Energy, and 800 from Essential Energy. “When the next disaster inevitably hits, this loss of skilled workers will have a devastating effect on response times and the speed at which power can be reconnected, particularly in the event of a state-wide natural disaster. “The situation had been exacerbated by the NSW Government’s decision to respond to a recent ruling by the Federal Government’s energy regulator by further slashing the number of front-line power workers. “We are urging [the power companies] to take a good hard look at the resources they have available moving forward, so they can ensure they have the skilled workers and specialist equipment needed to respond to similar events when they occur in NSW.”   [post_title] => SA power cuts: Queensland offers help, NSW worries, renewables defended [post_excerpt] => Power blame continues. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 25139 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-09-29 17:19:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-09-29 07:19:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25139 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24861 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-09-01 05:00:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-08-31 19:00:45 [post_content] =>  Okegawa-centrale-Alexis_opt  ©Ciel&Terre International picture     Australia’s first council-operated, community-funded solar farm will be operating beside a sewage treatment plant in Northern NSW by Christmas. Lismore City Council is collaborating with Farming the Sun, a community solar energy initiative, and borrowing the money from around 40 - mostly local - community investors to build two 100kw solar plants on council land. One will float on a settling pond at East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant, the other will be on the rooftop of Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre. The pontoon at the East Lismore plant will be only the second floating solar system in Australia, the other being at a wastewater treatment facility owned by Northern Areas Council in Jamestown, South Australia. The council awarded tenders for the Lismore Community Solar project on August 3. Suntrix Commercial will design and construct the floating system, which is expected to produce around 178MWh of electricity a year and slash the council’s annual electricity bill by $24,000 and the Rainbow Power Company will build the other, which is forecast to produce around 138MWh of electricity and save $18,000 a year in bills. Environmental Strategies Officer at Lismore City Council, Sharyn Hunnisett explains that the idea for a floating solar plant was borne out of necessity, because the council had run out of space on the land. The location also works brilliantly because the plant is the council’s heaviest electricity consumer. “We couldn’t fit a solar system on any of the plant space,” Hunnisett says. “There’s a big expanse of water out the back and we went “ha! Let’s use that”. It means that the electricity will be used on site and you can extend the system in the future because the system is only a very small portion of the space.” Appealing to investors to come on board has generated much enthusiasm for the project, she says. “There has been so much interest, a really good response. When the investment launched last year it had well over 100 people registering their interest and we only needed 40. People really want it to happen.” Hunnisett said the loan would be paid back to shareholders in seven years at 5.5 per cent interest. The council will start to make its money back in ten years. “What’s great about the project is that the council has recognised it’s more than just a solar system. It’s a community energy project. It’s a small price to pay for leadership in sustainability.” The council eventually hopes to generate most of the power used by the sewage treatment plant. No mean feat when you consider that the plant’s electricity bill weighs in at a massive $230,000 a year. Lismore City Council, which has committed to being self-sufficient in renewable energy by 2023, is keen to share its experiences and expertise of community renewable energy projects with other councils and businesses who may wish to replicate the project. Farming the Sun is intending to hold workshops for other councils and businesses to show them how to drive the business model used. [post_title] => Community funds floating solar panels at sewage plant [post_excerpt] => Lismore leads the way. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => community-funds-floating-solar-panels-sewage-plant [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-09-01 11:55:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-09-01 01:55:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24861 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24794 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-08-26 11:19:47 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-08-26 01:19:47 [post_content] =>  Forte_opt  Lendlease's Forte, Melbourne Docklands.    From homes that can be unfolded and assembled without machinery to carbon positive modular houses and contemporary beach shacks, the prefab market in Australia is looking exciting, sustainable and beautiful. While multi-storey buildings have usually grabbed less attention in the prefab space, attention to larger housing solutions is gathering momentum. Now the University of Sydney and construction heavyweight Lendlease have been awarded a $3 million Commonwealth government grant to research pre-fabricated multi-storey housing. The five-year industry-led project, bankrolled by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P) program, will design and build prototype housing using high-tech renewable materials and use cutting edge manufacturing methods. Prefab buildings are not a new idea. The Roman’s used some prefabricated elements to build parts of their forts from around AD43 when they conquered Britain and prefab housing was transported to the British colonies from the first quarter of the 17th century, including Australia. Prefab housing is probably most famously linked to providing homes and employment for soldiers returning after World Wars and keeping up with the baby boom. It is not a new area for Lendlease either. The company already has experience in the prefabricating high-rise buildings and has a Western Sydney factory where it manufactures the Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) used in prefabs as part of its DesignMake business. The company designed and built the world’s tallest prefabricated timber building, Forte, in 2013. The 32.17m tall building (10 storeys) in Melbourne Docklands is made from CLT. It has a five green star as built rating and includes sustainability features, including rainwater tanks, car sharing and energy efficient lighting and appliances. It also sold well and was occupied quickly, a result which Lendlease will no doubt be eager to replicate in its new project. Prefabrication is also essential to Lendlease’s gateway project at Barangaroo, where it will design and build a six-storey commercial building totally from timber - called International House Sydney. The new research project with Sydney University deepens its commitment to prefab buildings and sustainability. Chief Executive Officer, Lendlease Property, Kylie Rampa, said the demand for affordable and innovative housing meant the building industry had to come up with imaginative, new housing solutions. “We aim to bring to market an innovative housing system that is design-led, which will help address affordability issues, while developing advanced manufacturing technologies and techniques for future housing construction,” Rampa said. Associate Professor Mathew Aitchison at Sydney University’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning said the project was a great opportunity to spearhead innovation in  the residential construction market, which had remained largely static in the last 100 years. “We will focus on developing multi-storey prototype houses that can be adapted for manufacture and customised project to project,” Prof Aitchison said. “At the same time, we are looking at ways to reduce risk and waste, while increasing the efficiency, safety, quality, sustainability and diversity of market-ready housing. “Despite major advances in other manufacturing sectors, innovation in residential construction is lagging,” Prof Aitchison said. “This project seeks to drive efficiency and safety benefits and boost Australia’s competitiveness internationally, where we have seen a notable increase in advanced manufacturing in building over the past decade.” The aim is to develop a range of solutions for the multi-storey housing market that answer the twin calls of increasing urban density and the demands of the residential market. Rampa said the new jobs, skills and technologies would be created through the project, which would also open up export opportunities “for prefabricated housing to meet the sophisticated needs of homebuyers and builders.” The research project brings together industry leaders in Australian housing and construction including Lendlease and the University of Sydney’s Innovation in Applied Design Lab, located in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning. [post_title] => Federal government millions for prefabricated multi-storey housing [post_excerpt] => Sydney Uni and Lendlease team up. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => federal-government-millions-prefabricated-multi-storey-housing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-08-26 11:58:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-08-26 01:58:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24794 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24176 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-06-16 21:50:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-16 11:50:35 [post_content] => clean energy pic_opt   A desire by councils and local government leaders to look financially conservative and debt free is holding back investment infrastructure renewal and sacrificing big savings that can be made from clean energy upgrades and projects, says the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). The federally backed green financier says an apparent reluctance to take-on specifically earmarked low cost debt aimed directly at local governments is resulting in higher than necessary infrastructure running costs at a time when investments in solar, energy efficiency and so called micro-grids ought to be driving costs down. According to a newly released Market Report by the CEFC, Clean energy opportunities for local government, Mayors and General Managers need to “urgently consider tailored debt finance to improve their energy performance and reduce emissions from old and poorly maintained assets.” “By restricting investment to what can be paid for from current-year or retained income, councils face an accumulation of inefficient, out-of-date or sub-optimal infrastructure on their balance sheets,” CEFC Local Government sector lead Melanie Madders said. “Much of this aging infrastructure is energy inefficient, meaning councils have higher operating costs and a higher carbon footprint than necessary. Some councils also have zero-debt policies, which are putting the cost burden of inefficient long-life assets onto current ratepayers, rather than sharing these costs with future ratepayers who will also share in the benefits.” The environmental lender, which sources capital from private markets, wants local governments and their state government masters to shake the traditional aversion to debt, particularly zero-debt policies, to put infrastructure balance sheets to work to drive down costs. In particular the CEFC wants cities and municipalities to start using accredited energy efficiency consultants to start auditing council building and facilities to investigate what kind of real savings – that typically quickly outweigh capital costs – can be made to drive down expenses… as opposed to trying to make political and public relations capital out giving themselves a debt free rubber stamp. “Depending on a council’s energy consumption patterns and energy upgrade opportunities, the savings from clean energy investments can offset the loan repayments, improving council operating budgets while meeting environmental goals,” Ms Madders said. “This kind of sustainable borrowing is integral to prudent long-term asset management, which is especially important given the significant infrastructure challenge that councils face. Importantly, the cost savings and emissions reductions from clean energy projects continue after the debt is repaid.” A major advantage many councils have, especially in remote or regional areas, is the potential to run what are known as microgrids which allow power to be distributed between council owned buildings and facilities, bypassing the traditional power network. Because regulations about bypassing traditional electricity utility poles and wires are usually behind new technology (this Radio National panel talk sets out the issues nicely) councils are ahead of the curve compared to everyday consumers because they can distribute power they generate between their own facilities and buildings ‘off-grid’. “Local grids or ‘microgrids’ allow local renewable generation and energy storage systems to be shared across buildings to maximise the efficient use of resources. For example, power from rooftop PV installed on a building with spare roof space could be shared with a neighbouring building with less roof space; or batteries could be installed in a nearby building with free basement space so that locally-generated electricity could be stored to better match demand,” the CEFC report says. “Microgrids can improve energy efficiency, reduce total energy consumption, reduce the environmental impact of electricity generation and improve the reliability of supply.” There are also simpler measures at hand to reduce lights-on costs at councils according to the CEFC. While LED lights are now a mainstream technology, the report argues there’s still some way to go. “There are an estimated 2.3 million streetlights in Australia, and the annual cost of supplying and maintaining public lighting exceeds $250 million,” the CEFC report says. “While several councils have adopted LED streetlights, there are barriers to making the change and a significant switchover task remains – by one estimate, only 11 per cent of streetlights have been converted to LEDs.” Those savings should be illuminating, to say the least.   [post_title] => Zero-debt fetish flushes away infrastructure efficiency savings: Clean Energy Finance Corporation [post_excerpt] => Operating costs a drag on balance sheets. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => debt-isnt-a-dirty-word-for-clean-power-efficiency-savings [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-06-20 10:39:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-06-20 00:39:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24176 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24131 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-06-14 17:18:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-14 07:18:45 [post_content] => woman hand holding shopping list in a supermarket. As the federal election draws closer, local councils across Australia have issued their election shopping lists and it’s all about buoying up infrastructure investment, fixing roads and bridges and dealing with climate change. Councils are also calling for fairer funding and an acknowledgment of the burden they carry through cost-shifting by other levels of government.   Infrastructure funding
  •  Roads
The heavy cost of maintaining roads and bridges, combined with the federal government’s failure to future-proof financial assistance grants (FAGs) to councils has dramatically weakened councils’ ability to prop up crumbling infrastructure. It’s no surprise that a priority for local councils is the reintroduction of the indexing of FAGs and more cash for local roads and bridges under the government’s Road to Recovery program. The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), which represents Australia’s local councils, said there was a $1.2 billion annual funding shortfall to maintain Australia’s local roads. The federal government’s Roads to Recovery funding is $1.155 billion for 2016-17 but will the pot of cash reverts to $350 million each year from 2017-18 onwards. This has alarmed local councils and ALGA is arguing that this amount should be doubled to at least $700 million a year. ALGA President Troy Pickard said: "ALGA has called for additional funding for the Roads to Recovery program and the extra funds indicated in the budget will be welcomed in helping to address the challenge of maintaining more than 640,000 km of local roads. "But more needs to be done to ensure the local road network has the capacity required to address access, productivity and road safety issues, especially in regional areas. Additional investment in local roads must be part of the solution to increasing transport productivity on the nation's transport network." Bill McArthur, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) agreed that federal government should permanently double the Roads to Recovery funding. “Local roads make up 75 per cent of the entire national road network and are a huge cost for councils to maintain and upgrade,” Mr McArthur said. “Local government collects just 3.6 per cent of all taxes nationally, yet its small budgets are responsible for maintaining $354 billion in local roads, facilities and infrastructure relied upon by communities every day.” ALGA has also said that the $300 million five-year Bridges Renewal Programme, which ends in 2018-19, should be made permanent.
  •  Community infrastructure funding
 Community infrastructure covers a broad range of buildings: sports halls, community centres, arts centres and educational buildings. The 2015 State of the Assets Report found that 11 per cent of council community infrastructure was in poor or very poor condition. ALGA is asking for $300 million per year over the next four years to ensure this infrastructure is a good standard, particularly to ensure it is accessible to everyone, whether it's for people with disabilities, older people or parent with prams. Establish a local government Higher Productivity Investment Plan The plan would address the efficient movement of freight - whether by road, rail, ship or air – exploring how best to target investment, developing a more detailed inventory of road assets and working closely with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to ease regulatory reform. Local roads and the critical part they play in transport infrastructure, especially first and last mile access, and increasing freight access would also be considered.  ALGA said: “We must unlock local and regional productivity improvements through investment that improves access for freight vehicles and connectivity between local roads and preferred state and national freight routes.” The plan would cost around $200 million per year for five years. Funding  Thawing the freeze on FAGs comes up every time at every local government conference. Mr McArthur said that the three-year indexation of grants had cost Victorian councils $118 million; Local Government NSW estimated that the three-year freeze will have left a $288 million hole in the NSW Local Government sector. There are also calls to make increase the quantum of FAGs to at least 1 per cent of Commonwealth taxation. The current base funding is $2.3 billion and ALGA is asking the government to increase the pot of cash to $3.8 billion “to better reflect the actual cost of local government services and infrastructure.” Local councils have been complaining for years about the increased burden on them of ‘cost shifting’ where councils are expected to take on responsibilities that were previously the state or federal government’s but only partially funded to do this. Examples include library services, pensioner rate rebates and waste management. An LGNSW report on cost-shifting, conducted every two years, found that councils were carrying an additional burden of more than $670 in the 2013/14 financial year. Climate change ALGA has requested $100 million over four years to support councils to work with communities and businesses to implement local and regional Climate Change Plans. These plans use proven climate change strategies to reduce emissions and adapt to unavoidable climate change impacts. The Association is also keen for smaller regional councils to develop their own adaptation plans and undertake climate vulnerability assessments. You can ALGA’s key priorities for local government here. [post_title] => Local government's shopping list for the 2016 election [post_excerpt] => What councils really want from the new PM. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 24131 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-06-16 22:16:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-06-16 12:16:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24131 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24033 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-06-01 14:16:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-01 04:16:58 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_24036" align="alignnone" width="300"]fishermans bend 2_opt 'Gritty' vs gentrification; laneways now a feature.[/caption]   Forget sterile riverfront ghettos of luxury high-rise apartments, these days it's a Green Star that sells big new city builds. Australia’s largest inner-urban redevelopment project, the massive industrial zone of Fishermans Bend on Melbourne’s Yarra River, will now officially be Green Star rated blend of mixed residential and commercial buildings embedded into abundant parkland and served by a new industries employment hub that overtly shuns private car use for public and active transport. That’s the latest vision for what was once Melbourne’s sprawling industrial and manufacturing heartland as it attempts to transform to become home 80,000 residents and 60,000 workers serviced by new rail, tram and bus links bolstered by dedicated walkways and cycle paths for commuters. And it’s just doubled in size. Victoria’s Daniel Andrews Government (Labor) late last week moved decisively to “recast” the masterplan for the giant area, most notably upping its total development footprint size from around 250 hectares outlined in 2012 to 465 hectares – but significantly it also mandated ‘Green Star’ requirements to embed sustainability. [caption id="attachment_24035" align="alignnone" width="300"]Fishermans Bend 1_opt Freight rail and heavy links will be kept.[/caption]   It flips the position of the previous Baillieu-Napthine Government (Coalition) – which only lasted one term in office – that had made a point of snubbing any real mandate to enforce sustainability requirements on the huge development on the basis the standards created unnecessary ‘Green Tape’. With local governments, developers, property investors and planning experts all supporting the Green Star measures, it was at best a confused start to what many believe will become Australia’s exemplar of a new-age urban environment. Snatching an easy political free kick, the Andrews government wasted little time in locking down sustainability requirements that have gone from being a ‘nice-to-have’ credential for office and home buyers to something that actively lifts property values. Deprioritising private car travel is a major feature of the new masterplan, as is heavily diversifying the blend of developments to mix in more affordable dwelling stock with a big nod to the area’s industrial past by creating a “network of gritty streets and laneways.” “Fishermans Bend needs to be designed to encourage residents and commuters to get around by walking, cycling or catching public transport. The Victorian Government—via the Taskforce—will develop a flexible and adaptable plan that meets this need,” the new Draft Report report says. Citing Plan Melbourne 2016, the vision outlined for “housing supply, diversity and choice” says it will now “have a stronger emphasis on getting more diverse and affordable homes built—articulating long-term land use policies and reforms to meet projected housing needs and expand housing choice and affordability.”

Green with envy

It’s a logical step given that commercial and residential property developers, not to mention more and more high profile corporations and business groups are now openly embracing and promoting green building designs to cultivate kudos with customers, investors and staff by showing they care. Part of the big appeal is that Green Star-rated buildings don’t just have lower emissions and a smaller environmental footprint, they generally have substantially lower running costs too, making them more commercially appealing. The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), which developed the Green Star building ratings standard to guide the planning of sustainable communities and precincts, is chalking up the move to mandate its ratings at the Fishermans Bend development as a very big win. “This is something industry has been calling for over a number of years, and we are delighted that the Andrews Government has responded so positively,” said GBCA chief executive, Romilly Madew. “The significance of the site, the scale of the project, and the far-reaching implications of ‘getting it right’ make achieving a Green Star – Communities rating an essential component of smart, sustainable planning.” But it’s the strong backing of the Property Council of Australia for the Green Star ratings that perhaps most conspicuously drives home the appetite of major business groups to be seen to be acting on sustainability, even if it sometimes means being politically incorrect. “Three years ago the Property Council urged the Government to endorse the Green Star – Communities rating tool at Fishermans Bend to support sustainable, resilient and liveable communities,” said the Property Council of Australia’s Acting Victorian Executive Director, Asher Judah. “It is exciting to see the Government commit to this important sustainability reform.” [caption id="attachment_24037" align="alignnone" width="300"]fishermans bend 3_opt Connected communities start with transport.[/caption]

What will Fishermans Bend look like now?

With sustainable, liveable cities now at the front of many state and the federal government’s planning agenda, Victoria’s Planning Minister Richard Wynne is heavily pushing the need for government to get the key infrastructure building blocks for major infill projects right from the design phase. In the introduction of the “recast” Fishermans Bend Draft plan, he takes clear swipe at the short-term trend to maximise yields by throwing up stand-alone high-rise apartment complexes. “We need to tackle challenges such as public transport, schools, community services and public spaces now, rather than putting up residential towers and hoping for the best,” Mr Wynne said. “Fishermans Bend has a rich history,” he says. “It was the birthplace of Australia’s aviation industry and, for decades, was the heart and soul of Australia’s automotive manufacturing. Now, we have the chance to make it a benchmark for smart, sustainable development and high-density community living.” To give Melburnians a sense of what Fishermans Bend can become, the draft vison document put out by the government tries to outline the development by presenting it in a “future perspective” – or writing about it in the present tense as if it’s now 2050. “Known as backcasting, this technique describes a future we would like to see, then identifies the strategies required to make that future attainable,” the paper says. “Melbourne is a now a city approaching 8 million people and experiences more hot days and extreme weather events. The city also operates in an increasingly connected and competitive global environment. Fishermans Bend plays a vital role in ensuring that Melbourne meets the challenges and seizes the opportunities of this changing world,” says one futuristic passage. “A generous tree canopy keeps Fishermans Bend cool in summer. Not only are the public spaces green – so, too, are the buildings. The buildings incorporate vertical and roof-top greening—saving water while supporting a rich biodiversity throughout the area. A network of leafy boulevards and green links connect neighbourhoods and public spaces, providing a focus for city life as well as high quality public transport, walking and cycling Infrastructure,” says another. One of the more radical visons for the dense-but-green model cluster of communities is the removal of cars from the transport mix. “Car parking has been reduced. In fact, less than one-in-five trips are now made by private car. Instead, the efficient and direct public transport network reduces traffic congestion and carbon emissions,” the draft vison says. Also in the mix are “strong links” of dedicated cycling and walking links across the new suburbs – five in total, as well as purpose build water recycling. The draft vision also clearly wants to grab the opportunity to make the massive development an enviable place to work, dedicating a large tract of land to become what it says should become “Australia’s leading design, engineering and advanced manufacturing precinct”. “The Fishermans Bend Employment Precinct is a world renowned location for innovative industries, attracting international investment and producing world-leading research, engineering, technology and products. Its economy is highly productive and profitable, but with a low environmental impact, and complements Fishermans Bend as a whole through compatible land uses,” the draft vision says. If that sounds familiar, it could be because the description could be used in a sales brochure for almost any commercial office park in Australia, many of which – like Sydney’s Australian Technology Park in Redfern – ultimately become drive-in, drive out affairs for day workers and ghost towns at night. Or Canberra, which has until recently struggled badly to create any kind of cosmopolitan vibe after dark thanks to heavy planning designations that for decades segregated commerce, work and industry from residential areas. There may still be many unanswered many questions around the latest incarnation for Fishermans Bend, but at least Melbourne is daring to dream again. [post_title] => Australia's biggest urban redevelopment finally gets Green Star status [post_excerpt] => Walls and rooftops planted. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => green-star-go-ahead-for-australias-biggest-redevelopment [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-06-09 22:27:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-06-09 12:27:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24033 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23292 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-03-08 17:32:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-03-08 06:32:01 [post_content] => Normanton-queensland-australia-gulf-savannah-gulf-of-carpetnaria_opt   The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will fund a new solar farm in Normanton, Far North-West Queensland, to help improve energy efficiency in Australia’s regional areas by locating solar power generation nearer the grid. The Agency will pump up to $8.4 million to help Canadian Solar and Scouller Energy build a 5 MW DC (4.5 MW AC) solar farm - on the fringe of a major electricity network - to help stem the electricity losses cause by transmitting over long distances. ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the solar farm would help demonstrate how integrating solar into the grid can improve energy reliability in more remote locations at the end of the grid. “Like many regional Australian communities, Normanton is on the fringe of one of our major electricity networks,” Mr Frischknecht said. “Power generated in Rockhampton is fed across more than 1,000 kilometres of transmission lines to the Normanton area. Electricity transmitted over long distances typically experiences significant losses along the way. “Adding renewable energy generation closer to where it’s needed can provide more reliable and efficient power. This is a key ARENA investment focus for fringe-of-grid and network constrained areas. He said that Normanton Solar Farm would be a test case for network provider Ergon Energy to chart the real impact of network losses. The evidence gathered could be used to press for changes in regulation that would support more renewable energy installations at the fringes of the grid across Australia. Normanton Solar Farm will be jointly owned by Canadian Solar and Scouller Energy. Canadian Solar Australia has been contracted to construct the solar plant. Ergon Energy has signed a power purchase agreement to buy electricity from the plant. Mr Frischknecht said Ergon Energy would work with Canadian Solar and Scouller Energy to analyse and report on the network impacts of operating the plant. “This will allow energy distribution businesses to consider whether it’s feasible to compensate large-scale solar plants for the network benefits they provide,” Mr Frischknecht said. “This could make large-scale solar plants more competitive and encourage more project developments, potentially increasing solar uptake and benefitting local communities where these projects can positively impact on the grid.” Normanton Solar Farm is scheduled for completion in December 2016. [post_title] => Solar to bolster sagging regional grid [post_excerpt] => Renewables deployed to top-up transmission. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => more-reliable-energy-for-regional-australia-if-solar-farms-built-nearer-the-grid [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-03-08 17:32:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-03-08 06:32:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23292 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27284 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-02 11:24:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-02 01:24:51 [post_content] =>   NSW councils tentative on housing affordability package Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has welcomed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s ‘promising ideas’ in the state’s new housing affordability package but said the reforms were ‘somewhat light on detail’. The reforms include stamp duty concessions for first home buyers, changes to the first home buyer’s grant, higher taxes on foreign investors and accelerating council-led rezonings and development application approvals. "LGNSW congratulates the government on its efforts to do what it can to support housing affordability, and there's nothing we'd like more to do than to come out and praise their efforts,” LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said. "Unfortunately until there is more detailed information available it really seems to be a case of the devil will lie in the detail." Mr Rhoades said the sector welcomed many components of the package, including the ‘very positive’ move to lift the cap on development contributions to ensure new homes had the necessary infrastructure to support them, like footpaths, roads and parks. He also cautiously welcomed the announcement of funding of up to $2.5 million for ‘growth priority councils’ to help councils update their Local Environment Plans quicker. "It's great news that these ten to 15 councils will be supported to plan for future growth, but we are a little concerned at the suggestion that councils should accelerate the rezoning of land," Mr Rhoades said.  "Rezoning needs good strategic planning at a local level, and it's important that we don't give this up in the pursuit of speed at all costs.” He said it was unclear whether the government’s new guidelines around protecting the local character of communities would have much force. However, Mr Rhoades said councils were pleased the government had not moved straight to mandatory independent planning panels for deciding larger development applications. "These panels work very effectively for some councils, but other councils don't see the need for them - it really needs to be a matter of local choice.”   Digital marketplace for smart cities Local councils can now use the Digital Transformation Agency’s (DTA) Digital Marketplace platform to collaborate on smart city projects, including smart lighting, rubbish collection and infrastructure modelling. The new functionality, which is expected to become permanent, was introduced to help councils find suppliers for the innovative products and services they need to deliver smart city ideas. “There is a great appetite for innovation within local councils, who are at the forefront of smart city initiatives,” Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said. “Already 25 per cent of registered buyers on the Digital Marketplace are local government and there are more than 400 sellers who can provide the digital expertise they need to transform their communities.” There are already some exciting projects up on the Digital Marketplace, such as Sunshine Coast’s underground waste collection project and Ipswich Council’s 5D data modelling, which brings together streams of data to build a five-dimensional view of the city’s infrastructure. The Marketplace is supporting the federal government’s Smart Cities Plan and complements the $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. Applications for the first round of the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program close on 30 June 2017.  Eight Sydney councils will offer residents free energy advice Eight Sydney councils will offer free energy advice to residents through the Our Energy Future partnership, going live on World Environment Day, Monday 5 June. Eight councils are working with Our Energy Future: Inner West, Bayside, City of Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown City, Georges River, City of Parramatta, Randwick City, and City of Sydney. Our Energy Future (formerly Our Solar Future) will involve an energy advice website, phone line and free, no-obligation quotes on solar and assessment services. Users can find information such as trusted solar and storage battery retailers and installers and tips on improving the energy efficiency of their homes and workplaces. For a discounted rate, Our Energy Future experts can also conduct comprehensive energy assessments to offer more tailored advice.   Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) President Councillor Sally Betts said she was excited about the launch. “We’re delighted that Our Energy Future and SSROC have been able to come together with eight councils to deliver financial savings to our local residents,” she said. Our Energy Future is coordinated by Positive Charge, a not-for-profit social enterprise. “Our organisation has its foundations in working with local government to reduce emissions and increase the use of renewable and energy efficiency technologies,” said Manager Positive Charge Kate Nicolazzo. “We are thrilled to be partnering with SSROC to bring this award-winning service to Sydney-region residents,” she said. SSROC General Manager Namoi Dougall said, “Our Energy Future is a key element of SSROC’s Renewable Energy Master Plan, and will be run by Positive Charge for a 15-month pilot.” [post_title] => Around the councils: Digital Marketplace open for smart cities; Response to NSW housing reforms [post_excerpt] => And eight Sydney council's energy efficiency push. 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