“Power to the people: how communities can help meet our renewable energy goals”

Iain MacGill, the Co-director of the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets, UNSW, writes about this in today’s issue of The Conversation.

He writes about “Energy for the people”:
“Community renewable energy (CRE) may have a key role to play. Community energy can involve supply-side projects such as renewable energy installations and storage, and demand-side projects such as community education, energy efficiency and demand management.

“In short, community renewable energy revolves around community ownership, participation, and consequent benefits from community-scale renewable energy projects.”

Read the full article here.

“NSW farmers stepping up tree felling even before land-clearing laws loosened”

The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June, reports on the the likely terrible impacts of the NSW Government’s proposed biodiversity legislation; the article is here.

The NSW Nature ConservationCouncil, of which FuturePLANS is a member, has initiated an advocacy campaign to protect native vegetation in NSW. This is the  Stand Up For Nature campaign.    You are invited to visit the campaign website to familiarise yourself with the issues and to consider engaging in advocacy to protect biodiversity in our region. Remember, submissions close on 28 June.

The SMH wrote: “The state’s farmers have lopped paddock trees at an accelerating rate in the past 18 months even before a new land-clearing law eases controls further, government data shows.

“The new figures, which reveal the rate of clearing of paddock trees has more than doubled since November 2014, come as the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists wrote to all MPs to call for a reversal of “retrograde changes” planned in the new Biodiversity Conservation act.

“NSW farmers used a new self-assessment code to remove 21,716 paddock trees – or more than 50 a day – over the past year and a half.

“The rate, at an average of about 50 per day, was 140 per cent more than the average over the previous seven years, data from the Office of Environment and Heritage showed. Paddock trees, judged to be single or small patches of trees, make up 40 per cent of remaining woodland cover, OEH says.”

See the full article for more details.

Native vegetation map for Palerang

The Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council is conducting public information sessions on the revised native vegetation layer for the former Palerang Council area that it has placed on public exhibition: Bungendore – Tuesday 21 June, Bungendore Council Chambers, 6pm-7pm and Queanbeyan – Tuesday 28 June, Committee Room, Queanbeyan Council Chambers, 6pm-7pm.

‘The layer will be used to update the Palerang Local Environmental Plan 2014 Terrestrial Biodiversity map, to identify areas of native vegetation that require additional consideration in the strategic and statutory planning processes. The layer will also enable interested parties to search for certain types of native vegetation classifications to assist if an area for a biodiversity offset is being sought or where funding is being accessed to manage a particular vegetation community’.

Details are here.

QPRC – Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council community meeting

I was surprised how few people participated in the first QPRC – Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council – Community Meeting this evening in Bungendore, considering the amount of interest in the Council merger that has been expressed here and elsewhere in the past.

The atmosphere of the Community Meeting was very positive. The Administrator, Tim Overall, and the acting General Manager, Peter Bascomb, and others, provided heaps of useful information about how the new council will be operating. It was great to see the former QCC senior staff willing to come out to Bungendore, along with some of the former Palerang Council staff, explaining what their roles will be in the new council.

As everybody knows, part of the Council merger arrangement is that QPRC will receive $15 million to be expended during the period of the administration which runs from now until the council elections in September 2017. The Administrator explained that $5 million of this is for merger expenses and $10 million will be for a “stronger community fund”. $1 million of this will be allocated to community organisations by means of grants of up to $50,000. It is likely that the invitation to apply for these grants will be issued in the first quarter of the next financial year. I suggest that this is something that local community organisations should prepare for.

One of the good features that the Administrator mentioned is that the members of the Local Representational Committee (LRC) will be remunerated at a level similar to that of the councillors in the former QBN City Council.

The s355 committees will continue to operate until the 8 June council meeting. That meeting will receive a report from council staff to the Administrator recommending which of the s355 Committee should continue and which would not. The Administrator indicated that some council staff and/or members of the LRC will participate in s355 Committee meetings, but largely in an observer role rather than as full members.

Another positive aspect, not mentioned at tonight’s meeting, is that members of the community will continue to be able to address council meetings – i.e. address the Administrator: http://www.qcc.nsw.gov.au/Online-Forms/Register-to-make-a-presentation