Building a good Anthropocene – ideas from the Sierra Cub

It is hard to see how we can turn around our economic systems to create a positive future.

Many people have considered how a new system might operate, and there is a growing awareness that we need to make the change. But is it happening far too slowly to save the planet?

The attached link comes from the Sierra Club via BEAM life member Lesley Dalziel.  This club arose in 1892 out of the work of John Muir and other amazing people to protect the Sierra Nevada in California.  Since then it has been a very effective leader in conservation in the USA and, indirectly, in thinking about conservation across the world.

We need a Plan B for our consuming society – because, as the article says, there is no Planet B.

Cherry Tree Wind Farm going ahead in 2019

Emily Walker from Infigen Energy emailed to let us know that “the Cherry Tree Wind Farm achieved financial close last week so will start construction in January! It’s been a very busy last few months trying to tie up the last of the land agreements, permits and contracts, but we finally got there!”  See more information on the attached ASX release.

At last!  The original planning application was submitted to the Council in April 2012 and received 110 objections and 5 submissions of support.  BEAM mounted a big campaign to assure local residents that the fear campaign mounted by outside groups were not based on facts – that wind farms did not pose any threats to local residents and that wind farms provided benefits for both the local economy and our urgent need to reduce carbon emissions.

The issue went to VCAT.  In a decision on 26 November 2013, VCAT over-ruled all the major objections to wind farms in general and the Cherry Tree Wind Farm in particular.  Since then, the impact of Commonwealth Government policies on the electricity market has delayed this final step fort Infigen.  They have finally overcome even these hurdles.

We look forward to seeing construction beginning very soon.

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