Mitchell Community Energy Update

Seymour Energy Project

Community Investment Invited

Mitchell Community Energy Inc. proposes to establish a co-operative to fund an exciting renewable energy project that will provide Mitchell Shire Council with significant on-going financial savings. You are invited to a meeting to form the co-operative, where you will hear about the project and the opportunity to invest in it. The investment opportunity offered will provide a very safe return better than bank interest. Various levels of investment will be available.

The meeting will be held at WineXSam, 69 Anzac Avenue, Seymour on Tuesday 18 September at 7.00 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend and hear about this interesting venture. Enquiries: Jeff Wilmot 0477 054 666

 

PUMPED HYDRO ELECTRICITY STORAGE

This is our proposal to use the existing but unused Trawool Reservoir and the Goulburn River in a pumped hydro storage scheme. A pre-feasibility study carried out by the Melbourne Energy Institute and paid for by the Victorian Government’s New Energy Jobs Fund showed that the reservoir could store 36 MWh of energy which could generate 6 MW for 6 hours, would cost about $9,000,000 and return up to 7% based on arbitrage (buying power cheap and selling it dear). The Finkel review and the general urge for storage have  come since then.

Subsequent to that Nathan Epps, then of Goulburn Valley Water and now of Sustainability Victoria took the proposal to the Intelligent Water Network. IWN is a partnership of Vicwater, 18 Victoria water corporations and DELWP that explores new technologies to meet common challenges. They decided to adopt the scheme and appointed two members to follow it through, in particular our contact to be Andrea Pogue of Goulburn Murray Water.

Our next step is to have a full design and feasibility study leading to a business case that can be pitched to potential investors. IWN encouraged us to submit an application for that to the Victorian Government’s Climate Change Innovation Grants, with Goulburn Valley Water and IWN as partners. This was unsuccessful, but DELWP set up a “market place” for unsuccessful applicants at which we pitched our projects to potential investors.

A representative from ARENA suggested we apply there. Applicants to ARENA must match the amount applied for, so for us the full project is out of the question but we could perhaps match what ARENA calls a desk top study or report (approximating our business case). Potential partners could be IWN, GVW and DELWP. And following encouraging discussions with Infigen they might also be partners.

To make the application we need to have a realistic estimate of the cost and obtained the agreement and cooperation of partners. Continue reading

Food for Thought: challenges and opportunities for farming in the Melbourne Foodbowl

Come along and join BEAM members and friends at our AGM on September 22, 6.30pm.

Our guest speaker is Jen Sheridan from University of Melbourne

Jen is a sustainable food system researcher  and will be discussing her research (from the Foodprint Melbourne Project) on the environmental impact of feeding Melbourne now and at 2050.

She will demonstrate how an area like Mitchell Shire can support a thriving, vibrant local food economy sees farmland as far more than just ‘suburbs in waiting’.

Cities are often founded where fertile soils and plentiful water provides the farming conditions needed to feed the population and Melbourne is no exception.  But as Melbourne grows to a city of 8 million people, how can we plan our urban areas in ways that don’t destroy the farms that feed us?  Can we design our city in ways that make best use of our city – fringe farmland and provide a more resilient city food bowl?

The AGM will be held at Blue Tongue Berries – 455 Northwood Road Seymour.

For more information and booking details – please select here

Directions to Blue Tongue Berries (BTB) – Travel along the Hume Freeway (M31) until you reach the Seymour-Tooborac (C384) exit. Head towards Seymour, and then turn at Northwood Road (aka Manse Hill Rd) which is the first road on the left. Travel for 4.45 km to 445 Northwood Road. BTB is the last gate on the left just before the freeway overpass.  Look out for the red arrow and Blue Tongue Berries sign at the gate.

 

 

 

 

 

Wattle Day and the Changing Seasons

Golden Wattle

Wattle Day will be celebrated at the Australian Light Horse Memorial Park on Sunday 2nd September 2018, from 10:00am to 1:30pm (see details here).

Wattles are have been a symbol of the Australian bush for a long time and their flowering heralds the changes in the seasons in south-eastern Australia.

Lesley Dalziel writes that “the sight of the first wattles in Spring must have brought joy to all, both the aboriginal inhabitants and the early settlers.  The bright blooms heralded the beginning of a season of growth and for the settlers, a new harvest.  For the aborigines the wattles would be a sign of welcome warmth to come, and a harvest of wattle seeds for baking.  All would have appreciated the beauty of the transformed landscape.”

Wattles were first used as a meaningful emblem in Tasmania in 1838.  Later in the century, the Australian Natives Association argued for the wattles as a national floral emblem, similar to the thistle for Scotland.  In 1899, Field naturalist AJ Campbell founded the Victorian Wattle Club (later League). He helped organise spring excursions on the 1st September each year into the bush surrounding Melbourne.  All this evolved into the first ‘national’ Wattle Day, celebrated in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide on 1 September 1910. Continue reading

Broadford Bushland Reserves in Good Hands

The bushland reserves in Broadford are small but vibrant reserves for native plants and animals and for people who appreciate a quiet walk in the bush.

Broadford Land Management Group (BLMG) has been working with Council staff to manage some of these reserves for many years, and there are plans for more activities over the next few years.

The group began as a committee of management for the new Colin Officer Flora Reserve on Horwood Road in 2007.  This reserve has matured with the plantings, weed control, track maintenance and signage carried out by BLMG.  It is a real asset for Broadford and credit to the work of the group and the Council.

Last year, the group completed a project to create a parkland and bushland corridor along Whiteman’s Reserve off the Clonbinane Road.  This project began as one of the first activities of the newly formed Broadford Environmental Action Movement (later BEAM Mitchell Environment Group) in 1990.

BLMG volunteers at Whitemans Reserve: Peta Langbehn, Barb Moss, Tom Fenton, Louise Falls, Judy Fenton and Bob Tomkins

Bob Tomkins, a long-term member of the group, says that this corridor was part of a larger vision for wildlife corridors and walking trails proposed by Dr Colin Officer and other members of BEAM in 1995.  Many working bees later, and with great support from Mitchell Shire Council’s Environmental Programs staff, Whiteman’s Reserve is now a very attractive route for walkers in Broadford and a safe corridor for wildlife (see article).

Broadford has several other bushland areas so there is still plenty of work for people interested in enhancing and caring for the natural places of Broadford.

Broadford Land Management Group is holding its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 22nd August.  Anyone interested in joining the group as an occasional worker or a more committed committee member is welcome to come along.

Later in Spring, the group will hold its annual wildflower walk in the Colin Officer Flora Reserve. This is an opportunity to see and learn about nature in Broadford in full flower.

For more information about the group and the AGM, contact the Secretary on 0468 795 954 or broadfordlmg@gmail.com.

The climb to Pulpit Rock- Some Picnic!

The dry winter weather was embraced for the BEAM walk to Pulpit Rock on Sunday July 15th.  Sunny, a slight breeze at the rock – perfect!

18 people in all embraced gathered at “Wuk Wuk” 750 landscape Road (the home of the President and Sandra and Jenny) and after a morning tea and coffee, the group split into two walking groups and a 2 vehicle taxi service .

The climb was steep up to a hand-made stone road (ca. 1930) then flattened out for an easy ridge walk to Pulpit Rock.

The Tallarook Ranges are “mainly granite, a hard igneous rock comprised of the minerals quartz glassy), feldspar (white and commonly tabular), biotite mica (black with perfect platy cleavage) and cordierite (tabular or rectangular shaped, dark but not black)” as Neil Phillips writes in Geology of the Tallarook Plateau. [this little book is chockers with good local geology, just $15 from the Tallarook Store!]. The walking country was impacted by fire some five and a half years and the regrowth was of interest. Some incredible “tors” provided tricky climbing, but all in all “we” did well, and no casualties.

A Picnic at Pulpit Rock and some incredible views across Puckapunyal to the west, over the Goulburn and Seymour to the north, and east to Cherry Tree Range….you’d have loved it.

We’ll do this again, but the BEAM outdoor venture got the “thumbs up” all around. Any ideas for a follow up folks?  Perhaps the Traawool Reservoir, where the possible pumped hydro proposal is based around…..?

Peter Lockyer

Pictures by Cynthia Lim

Mitchell Community Energy Survey

Mitchell Community Energy (MCE) is undertaking a survey to gauge the interest of the community in making investments in Community Energy projects.

Please read the information below and email your responses to the survey to Jeff Wilmot, Secretary of MCE.  If you would like more information, please contact Jeff.  Your response will be treated confidentially.

MCE has made a submission to Mitchell Shire Council to obtain the funds from the community to loan to Council to install 99 kW of solar panels on the roof of the Seymour Sports and Aquatic Centre at a cost of about $120,000.  Council has, not unreasonably, come back with: “Council wishes to confirm the likelihood of MCE being able to fund the initial $120,000 and the time frames around this.”

The group aims to involve local people.  MCE has been proceeding on the basis that similar projects in other communities are being successfully subscribed within days, or even hours.   Jeff Wilmot has spoken to many individuals and groups around Seymour about the concept, and there has been keen interest and support.  MCE now needs to put this to the test.  So, MCE is writing to people who have shown interest in the concept of community financing of renewable energy and energy conservation in the Mitchell Shire.

The investment will be subject to appropriate financial regulation and oversight.  To manage the finances of projects, “Special Purpose Vehicles” will have to be set up.  This will probably be in the form of a co-operative, which can have an unlimited number of members and can promote an unlimited number of projects.  The investment that can be made by each member in any project can vary from whatever minimum is decided, say $500, to a maximum of 20% of the project value, which in the case of the SSAC would be $24,000.

Although MCE can’t promise high rates of return, they do commit to providing a better return than current bank rates.

This is a survey aims to get a sense of what interest is out there in investing for a sustainable future.  It will not be taken as a commitment at this stage.  please note that your response will be treated confidentially.

Could you please let us know whether you would be prepared to invest in a community energy project at the Seymour Sports and Aquatic Centre, and if possible give us some indication of what amount that might be.

  • A  $500 – $2000
  • B  $2000-$6000
  • C  Above $6000
  • D  Specific amount

Regards to all,

Jeff Wilmot

Gardens for Wildlife

Join APS Mitchell group for the launch of the Gardens for Wildlife scheme in Mitchell shire.

The Gardens for Wildlife program helps people to make their gardens wildlife friendly.

No matter how big or small your garden is you can make a contribution in providing habitat for native birds and animals. Your garden can provide an important stepping stone for birds and other animals to move around the landscape.

The membership fee of $20 covers a Sustainable Gardening booklet, a “Gardens for Wildlife” sign for your letterbox, a selection of native plants from a local nursery and a 10% discount at ‘Gardens for Wildlife’ talks and workshops along with the opportunity, to share your garden through our “Gardens for Wildlife” website page. More information can be found at www.apsmitchell.org.au and www.euroaarboretum.com.au

The launch takes place on Saturday June 23rd  at 1PM in the John Taylor Room – Kilmore Library, Sydney Street Kilmore.  The Guest Speaker is Louise Costa on the topic of Landscape Design. Continue reading

Regional Forest Agreements must not be Renewed

Native forest logging has a direct and long-lasting impact on forests and their dependent wildlife. It is the only activity and only ecosystem type given an entirely separate purpose-built legal and management regime in Australia. Native forestry operations are treated differently from other actions that may impact on matters of national environmental significance otherwise protected by Australia’s principal piece of environment legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Unlike other actions, forestry activities covered by a Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) are not required to obtain approval under the EPBC Act. (Environment Defenders Office)

Regional Forest Agreements or RFAs, were introduced by the Howard Government and in Victoria, the Kennett Government some 20 years ago as an instrument to give loggers access to native forests for logging. Their intention was to govern the regulation of native forest conservation and wood production (objectives of the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement). In other words, an intention of a balanced management, for 20 years.  However the management has been anything but balanced:  the RFAs have escaped any need to conform to national environment laws, and the forests have been decimated and left many small forest communities angry. In their view, the forest has many more virtues than just timber, and the timber harvesting has been brutal. “It is simply not sustainable” says Ken Deacon, a Rubicon Valley resident with a horse trail riding business that has suffered from the intrusion of Vic Forests and the logging onslaught. “Forests deserve better management”.

This logging has been by “clear felling” whereby within a forest “coup”, a logging company totally clears the area of every tree save for “islands” for seed production. These islands provide little refuge for native fauna. Native fauna by and large get killed in the logging process. “The RFAs have created an industrial disaster zone” in the words of Ken Deacon.

The photos are of Andersons Mill Log dump in Marysville and the Royston Range in the Rubicon State Forest.

The forest is decimated, logs removed, and the remaining leaf and branch material is then burnt.  Most of the logs meet agreements for woodchips, and you see these trucks going through Tallarook every day. Some of the larger logs make their way to saw mills and kiln driers and end up available as quality timber. Continue reading