Seymour Structure Plan out for public consultation

A draft of the Seymour Structure Plan will be available for public comment and feedback for six weeks from 31st July to 11th September.  A draft of the Seymour Structure Plan was presented to the Mitchell Shire Councillors for a vote on June 19th.  However, the Councillors wanted more time to review the plan and incorporate some changes and finally endorsed the Draft Seymour Structure Plan to go out on public consultation on 17th July – a good sign that the Councillors are taking their responsibilities very seriously.

Drop in sessions will take place at Chittick Place, Seymour Sports & Aquatic Centre, on:

  • Thursday 3rd August 2pm – 8pm
  • Tuesday 15th August 2pm – 8pm
  • Wednesday 23rd August 10.30am – 4.30pm
  • Thursday 7th September 2pm – 8pm

Documentation will soon be available on the Seymour 3660 website www.seymour3660.com.au.

Sustainable Seymour Network members will be preparing submissions on the plan.  If you have any comments on the Plan, please forward them to Council and also to Peter Mitchell so they can also be considered and added to our submissions.

Plastic bags, plastic packaging and microbead controls- when will our governments provide the leadership the community is crying for?

Plastic waste is a big issue in our community, and perhaps moreso in our oceans for many years… too many years. There is a reluctance for Governments both Federal and State to do their homework and set some tough boundaries on packaging and microbeads with any urgency.

The ABC program War on Waste has generated a flurry of activity in the community around reducing and recycling single use plastic. It seems the community, and now businesses are ahead of the Victorian government, with the big 2 supermarkets Coles and Woolworths announcing last week that they will phase out single use plastic bags over the next 12 months.

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Planting Day completes a Broadford link started by BEAM in 1990

 

On Sunday 18th June, Broadford Land Management Group (BLMG) organised a planting day to complete the parkland link through Whiteman’s Reserve between Wandong Road and Sunday Creek begun in 1990.  31 people came to the planting day including members of Sunday Creek/Dry Creek Landcare Group and the 1st Broadford Scouts.  600 trees, shrubs, sedges and tussock grasses were planted.

Planting at the “new” Whiteman’s Reserve was one of the first activities of the newly formed Broadford Environmental Action Movement (later BEAM Mitchell Environment Group) in 1990 (see Broadford Community News August 1990 below).  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.

The project aimed to turn a drainage reserve full of weeds and piles of dredgings into an attractive parkland of native vegetation, with links between the golf course to Sunday Creek and downstream to Davidson Street.  Funding has come from Mitchell Shire Council and more recently from a Goulburn Broken CMA Regional Riparian Action Plan Grant to complete the planting in Whiteman’s Reserve and replace the masses of woody weeds along Sunday Creek downstream to Broadford.

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.

If you want to see a Powerpoint walk down the Reserve and listen to Lee McKenzie, President of BLMG, talking to Mark Perrott from Mitchell Community Radio (OKRFM at 98.3 Kilmore and 97.1FM in Wallan) during the planting day, please contact the Secretary of BLMG at mitchell.moss@iinet.net.au.  (Apologies to those without Powerpoint – and please suggest an alternative format that is not 100MB in Youtube or similarly large file size).

From Broadford “Community News” Volume 2 No. 4 August 1990 Continue reading

#WaronWaste inspires local community

The recent ABC 3-part program War on Waste has generated a lot of conversations and interest both locally and across the nation about living more sustainably to reduce waste.

Reducing the amount of soft plastic heading to landfill was one of the key messages of the program. While we can cut back on our consumption of plastic bags and packaging by growing our own food and cooking from scratch, bringing our own re-usable shopping and produce bags, and buying in bulk from the BEAM Bulk Food Scheme, we can also make sure that any soft plastics we do collect are recycled through effective programs like Victorian-based REDcycle.

Currently, there are no official REDcycle soft plastic recycling bin in the Mitchell Shire. And due to the huge response to the War on Waste program, the bins are now in high demand, with a limited number able to be distributed. But thanks to the advocacy of Kilmore local Carol, we will soon be getting a REDcycle bin at the Kilmore Coles. Carol says she was “in the right place at the right time”, and spoke to the local store Manager not long after the program aired and some discussions popped up on the local community facebook page. Carol’s passion and enthusiasm convinced the local Manager to push the issue further and earlier this week she confirmed that the bin would arrive in Kilmore in about 3 months time.

In the meantime, Kilmore Coles staff are happy to commence collecting soft plastics to store out the back and be sent to REDcycle. So head to the REDcycle website for more information on what soft plastics you can include in your collection.

With Plastic Free July coming up very soon, we encourage you to keep sharing your ideas about what we can do locally and in our own homes to the BEAM Sustainability Network facebook page.

If you happened to miss this fantastic program head to the War on Waste website where you can watch all 3 episodes and access a host of great information about the waste problem in Australia and what we can do to address it.

 

 

Clean up Kilmore

Councillor and long time BEAM member David Atkinson and a small group of locals teamed up for the first Clean Up Kilmore day on Sunday the 28th of May. David gives this wrap up of the event:

The day started out cool but sunny. We decided to clean up along the Kilmore Creek from the back of the fish and chip shop [Union St] and went north to the back of foodworks. The rubbish mainly consisted of plastic bags which you can see from the attached photos.

It was disturbing to see three of the shopping trollies l pulled out of the creek and put in one area for ease of pick up at the corner of Patrick and Mills St [with coles advised to pick them up with the pick up location etc] had been thrown back in the creek in the same location.

There was also a lot of packaging material [wrap and Styrofoam] at the back of the furniture store. We were doing so well [although the long wet grass made it difficult to get real close to the creek] we decided to cross the creek and return back via the other side. We made it back to Union rd and decided to keep going back to mill st when the skies opened up with rain and hail. We shortly thereafter, pulled the pin and decided not to worry about lunch as a hot shower seemed more inviting for some!

There was a competition for the strangest/most interesting thing found. It was a thong and not the type you put on your feet!

Overall, we picked up over a dozen bags of rubbish and recycling. This time [to my surprise] it was mostly rubbish due to plastic bags and packaging. In summary, the trial event was very successful even though it was not advertised and so we hope it may become a monthly event. Next time we are looking at picking up, as suggested by Marie, on East street near the golf course.

David Atkinson

Clean Up Kilmore Co-ordinator
BEAM Mitchell Environment Group

Make sure you check out the War On Waste on the ABC

 

Victorian Greenhouse Alliances 2017 Conference report

David Atkinson recently attended the Victorian Greenhouse Alliances conference on behalf of Mitchell Shire Council. Greenhouse Alliances are partnerships of local governments and other organisations responding to climate change through implementing projects. Covering 70 councils and most of Victoria, the ten Greenhouse Alliances work with their members, community and partners in mitigation, adaptation and sequestration activity. His report follows:

The plenary on what can Australia can learn from Germany’s energy transition featured key speaker [Dr Anne Kallies, RMIT] from Germany who spoke about energy transition and bringing back utilities to local government. In the post-war period, Germany had a mix of private and public utilities. By the end of 2012, 190 communities ran their own power grid, and 70 Municipal utilities had been founded. She called it “Re-municipalisation” – i.e. local government [LG] taking back responsibility for local services – especially the operation of local distribution grids. She likened it to “empowering the public”. Could Mitchell Shire [MSC] run their own electricity grid???

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The Tallarook Arboretum needs our help!

BEAM members have enjoyed many get togethers at the beautiful Tallarook Arboretum. Now it’s time for us to give back to this special place.

Hello friends and fellow BEAM members, I’m writing a plea for help from the Dabyminga Catchment Cooperative (DCC, which incorporates Tallarook and Reedy Creek landcare groups). We have been responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the Tallarook arboretum for the past 10 or so years. We have quarterly working bees with an average of 6-8 participants, but now we are asking for BEAM’s help.

The arboretum was flooded in spring, washing away most of our lovingly applied mulch. Now, weeds abound and the whole place is looking a bit worse for wear. Our faithful band of workers need some assistance, so if any BEAM members can help, we will be eternally grateful.

When?     Sunday March 26th, 10am – 12 noon

Where?    The Tallarook Arboretum, opposite the Mechanics Institute Hall

What to bring?  Wheelbarrows, garden forks and rakes for mulch spreading, handsaws, secateurs, muscles and something to share for lunch.

Please wear gloves and suitable shoes for outdoor work

Mark South- DCC

Sustainable Seymour update 2nd March 2017

We posted a Sustainable Seymour update on the BEAM website a few weeks ago – see http://www.beam.org.au/post/sustainable-seymour-projects-on-the-go/.  Since then, there has been little direct progress but lots of excitement from the Community Energy Congress in Melbourne and announcements from the State Government.

Update on projects

The feasibility studies for pumped hydro and Chittick Park are still in progress and we hope to have some preliminary results very soon.  The Seymour Structure Plan is getting closer – latest information is that it will go to Council around April and will then be released for public comment – but don’t sharpen your pencils quite yet.  We will resume our discussion workshop when we have something to bring to the table on these projects.

Community Energy Congress, Melbourne, 27 &28 February

Jeff Wilmot, Marie Gerard and Peter Mitchell attended the congress on behalf of BEAM.  Jeff was sponsored by Sustainability Victoria, and Marie and Peter were sponsored by Mitchell Shire Council – many thanks to those organisations.  Also present were Elyse Kelly (Environmental Programs Coordinator, Mitchell Shire Council), Malcolm Green (also part of the Sustainable Seymour network), Shirley Saywell, Andi Kofler and others from Euroa Environment Group (our partners in the Pumped Hydro Project), Geoff Lodge from Goulburn Valley Community Energy, Tom Brown from Goulburn Broken Greenhouse Alliance (we plan to meet with Tom in April), and more than 450 other people from around Australia and overseas.  There will be more information from the Congress that we will share with you as it comes in, but below are our initial reports:

My interest in attending was to explore ways that we could go from feasibility studies to fully funded and well managed projects.  For example, groups setting up projects need to have contracts with funders (who may be donors or investors), with owners of sites for the solar panels, with suppliers and installers, and with purchasers of the electricity.  To assist groups like us, Frontier Impact Group have developed a Behind the Meter Solar PV Funding Guidebook (see https://www.frontierimpact.com.au/resources).  ClearSky Solar Investments (http://www.clearskysolar.com.au/) can match investors with investors;  they cite returns of 6-8% for investors so solar is a good bet.  Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Asutralia (CORENA – see https://corenafund.org.au/) work on a donation system for renewable energy projects.  All these groups are not-for-profit.- and that’s just the start.  So lots of choices for the future – and a lot more to think about.

I also attended an Action Planning session on solar gardens, and came away with the impression that there are no significant legal barriers to setting up virtual power networks (although the hope for a lower tariff for local use of the existing powerline network has not been approved).  Another aspect in the discussions was equity – a key theme of the Congress in general.  Local networks can be used to share the bounty provided by the sun between those with solar panels and those who – for whatever reason – cannot install solar panels.

So lots of possibilities and lots of groups that can help us make it happen.

Peter

The first session on the second day was called “Action Planning” in which participants could put up topics for discussion and action.  Curious about what interest there might be in the technology, I suggested pumped hydro electricity storage as a topic. Thirty people came to the session, including Shirley and Andi. Elyse kept notes on the discussion and will type them up. Members of the group came from all over south-east Australia, from Mullumbimbi in northern NSW to Kangaroo Island. Some already had ideas for projects.  At Mullumbimbi they want to make use of an existing mini-hydro generator, at Bendigo they want to use old mine shafts and in Gippsland they want to use the pit and pondage when Hazlewood power station shuts down.

 The resulting action was to set up an interest group to share data and progress.  One member of the group is making a submission on the subject to the Federal government’s Finkel Review into the National Energy Market.

Jeff

We were interviewed during the conference – for an exciting broadcast, go to fuzzylogicon2xx.podbean.com/e/energising-the-community/ and find the speaker bar.  Our segment begins at 16:55 minutes.

News from the State Government

Feed-in Tariffs have been raised from 5 cents to 11.5 cents. 

See http://delwp.vic.gov.au/energy/electricity/victorian-feed-in-tariff.  This is very welcome for people who want to encourage renewable energy.  But there has been some concern, in particular about the possible higher prices imposed on households without the capacity to install solar panels.  The opposition is planning to block the legislation, but there are many other better options that could make this a win-win for communities such as Seymour.

Victoria now has stronger laws to combat climate change.

Environment Victoria passed on the information that the Victorian parliament passed into law a new Victorian Climate Change Act on 23rd February.  It’s a significant step forward. The Act establishes the framework for eliminating greenhouse pollution in Victoria over coming decades.  In particular, the Act:

  • Establishes a target of net zero climate pollution by 2050
  • Requires five-yearly interim emissions targets from 2020 onwards
  • Improves accountability and transparency on efforts to cut emissions
  • Ensures all arms of government are factoring climate change impacts and emissions reductions into their decision-making and policy setting.

Legislating targets to get to zero emissions means that every investment and government decision made from here on needs to consider how it helps the state eradicate greenhouse pollution.

We congratulate the State Government for taking these two big steps towards a low carbon economy.