Smarter NSW councils scoop environmental awards

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If some of the Australia’s local councils had been given the floor at the recent G20 Summit, Australians might well have heard their community leaders and politicians say far more positive and exciting things about tackling the pressing issue of climate change.

Now, as the rest of the world ponders the globally significant agreement between the US and China on cutting carbon dioxide emissions, work at the coalface  of communities is continuing as the best and brightest NSW councils get together in the first week of December to recognise environmental ingenuity at the 2014 Local Government Excellence in the Environment Awards.

Local governments might be smaller than their state or national peers, but their grass roots reach into the community as well as their sheer number makes them a key agent for delivering change and innovation.

There are 15 award categories including: asbestos management; climate change action; communication, education and empowerment, resource recovery, weed management, sustainable procurement, waste avoidance and reuse and water conservation and the 49 project finalists include a huge range of innovative schemes.

Lismore City Council, for example, is a finalist in the resource recovery section for its project ‘The Dirty Dozen: 12 Rules for Your Yellow Bin’. Lake Macquarie City Council is a finalist in the natural environment policies, planning and decision making award category for its work with threatened species, including large forest owls and grevilleas.

Meanwhile, Greater Taree Council makes the finals list in the natural environment protection and enhancement (groundworks) category for its project ‘Big Swamp, Big Plume, Big Results’. This collaborative project with the University of NSW led to the remediation of a large swathe of acidic farmland on the Lower Manning River estuary and turned it into fertile wetlands.

President of Local Government NSW, Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM, said the awards had been running for 17 years and the standard of nominated projects kept ramping-up.

“We received 95 entries across the 15 categories from over 80 councils or council partnerships around the state,” Mr Rhoades said.

“A selection of finalists will also be presenting at the finalists’ forum on a wide range of topics including sustainability, waste, biocertification, roadside vegetation, sea-level rise, sustainable procurement and precinct water sensitive urban design redevelopment.”

He encouraged councillors and council staff to attend and be inspired and motivated by hearing about the great work councils were doing in the environmental realm.

“The awards emceed by Rod Quantock, stand-up comedian and writer, are a great opportunity to give NSW Councils and individual staff members’ recognition and thanks for the great work that they do by finding new and inventive ways of tackling environmental issues in their own communities. Good luck to them all,” said Cr Rhoades.

The finalists’ forum will be held from 9am to12.15pm and the awards lunch is from 12.30pm to  3pm on Tuesday December 2.

To find the full list of award finalists or to register for the event click here.

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