#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.


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.


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.

Social change projects from around the world with Kai Saywer

Kai Sawyer, peace activist, student of nonviolence, and permaculture educator from Japan, shares his story of exploring the world of “peace” and “sustainability” in a 2-3 hour presentation on Wednesday the 22nd of February at Abdallah House in Seymour.

Please join us at 6pm for a Pot Luck dinner (bring food to share) before the presentation which will begin at 7:30pm. Space is limited to around 30 guests, so please call Richard on 0402 503 763 if you want to come. Kai will be requesting for a donation, so please consider contributing.

“From the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to living in the jungle of Costa Rica with no running water or electricity, to my visits to various amazing permaculture communities. My story focuses more on people and relationships (social permaculture), social change and empowerment, rather than food production. I conclude with how I am cultivating the cultural soil to plant radical practices of peace and ecology through my project called Tokyo Urban Permaculture.

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Sustainable Seymour Projects on the go!

Sustainable Seymour Update February 2017

Renewable energy continues to be the main thrust of the Sustainable Seymour group.

Pumped Hydro: The pumped hydro feasibility study is under way, led by Roger Dargaville from the Melbourne Energy Institute. On 25 November, a meeting in Seymour with Roger and six staff from Goulburn Valley Water was followed by inspections of the two project sites at Trawool and Euroa. The meeting was attended by Jeff Wilmot, Richard Telford, Julie Mitchell, Malcolm Green and Bob Brown from Seymour and Shirley Saywell, Andi Kofler and Charlie Brydon from Euroa. Jeff reports:

Due to the low head and large amount of water needed, the capacity of the Strathbogie project, utilising Waterhouse and Abbinga reservoirs, is about 2 MW, which is the capacity of the diesel generator now used at peak times. But at such time,s the water demand for other purposes is also high so may not be available for hydro-generation. New pipe is also needed which could cost $4 million.

At Trawool the head a(290 metres) and volume of water (5o megalitres) being considered equate to potential energy of 40 MWh. Generator capacity could be 4 MW or more depending on the time required to run. The potential income from “arbitraging”, ie buying cheap power to pump and generating at times of expensive power, could be $1 million per year. The granite wall would withstand the daily cycling involved as it is impervious. There would be no safety issues as the water level would change slowly, but some kind of cage would be required over the outlet pipe. The reservoir would still be available for recreation. Another possible purpose for generation could be to level the output of the Cherry Tree Range wind farm across the river.

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End of Year Get Together at Tahbilk

Please join the BEAM committee, along with Euroa Environment Group and Strathbogie Voices at our annual end of year celebration at Tahbilk Winery, Nagambie.

Come along and bring your friends – it should be a great day out. See details below, and a map to the venue here. Please RSVP to book your spot! email: beam.inc@hotmail.com or call Caro on 5784 1177 or 0400 831 3302016-beam-end-of-year Download the PDF of the flyer here.