Improving the energy efficiency of Moira Shire Council assets, including a possible community solar garden and the expansion of council’s kerbside organic collection service, are just two ideas put forward in the shire’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy (ESS) which has been released for public comment.
Cr Wendy Buck, immediate past Chair of the Goulburn Valley Waste and Resource Recovery Group, moved a motion at the recent ordinary meeting of council to endorse the draft strategy for public consultation which was seconded by Cr Kevin Bourke.
Cr Buck said the draft Environmental Sustainability Strategy provided a strategic framework to assist council with decision making and prioritisation around the many and varied environmental issues.
“This draft strategy continues to build on the significant achievements already made by council in this area,” Cr Buck said.
“Since 2012 we have achieve significant projects in this area including the Watts Working Better street lighting project, the climate smart agri-development project, our fruit industry employment program and the roadside weeds and pests program.
“We also have rate rebates for conservation covenants plus a full organics green waste service.”
According to Cr Buck, Moira Shire’s Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee had been integral in the development of the 2017 draft strategy.
“I recommend this document and endorse it for public consultation,” she said.
“There is an opportunity to provide comment over a three week period and a survey has been designed and is available on council’s website for ease of feedback.
“Two of the projects listed in the strategy have won a Premier’s Sustainability Award.
“Moira is leading the state in this field and everyone is to be congratulated for that.”
Cr Bourke also endorsed the draft strategy saying he believed Moira Shire “punches well above our weight in environmental sustainability”.
“We have done a lot of fantastic work in landfill and the street light project,” he said.
“We need guidance from the community.
“This document has a vision for Moira and I would very much encourage community members to read it and comment.
“I firmly believe we are doing big things here.”
Cr Peter Mansfield praised Cr Buck’s contribution to enhancing the environmental sustainability locally.
“I fully endorse this document and I take the opportunity in commending Cr Buck for her work,” Cr Mansfield said.
“There are around eight projects listed that the shire has achieved and it was all led by Wendy.
“We are leading the pack in terms of environmental services.”
Mayor Gary Cleveland said from the quality of the soil to the beauty of the waterways and landscapes the natural environment was at the heart of Moira’s economy, lifestyle and tourism.
“Our Environmental Sustainability Strategy outlines how we will play our part in caring for these precious resources,” Cr Cleveland said.
“The ESS also outlines the importance of partnerships with the community, business and agencies.
“From education programs in our local schools, to exploring reliable, alternative energy supplies, and preserving the values of our wetlands and waterways, the ESS is relevant
right across the shire, across all sectors and for all ages.”
A key feature of the ESS is the opportunity for council to lead by example with services and projects that deliver environmental, financial and community benefits.
“Our organic waste service and energy efficient street lighting are examples of programs delivered under the previous ESS that achieved tremendous environmental gains as well as financial savings of more than $300,000 for our ratepayers,” he said.
“The ESS shows how we can continue this momentum.
“We are encouraging all ages and abilities to consider the strategy and share their ideas with us online, by email, by phone or by mail by 5pm Friday, June 16.
“You can complete our online survey or provide more detailed feedback.”
In other news, Moira Shire was part of a regional hearing held last week by the State Government’s Economic, Education, Jobs and Skills Committee in its inquiry into community energy projects.
The committee has been tasked to investigate the benefits of community ownership in the energy sector and ways to support both regional and metropolitan communities to develop local energy projects.
Sally Rice, Manager Safety, Amenity and Environment, spoke at the hearing and outlined Moira’s objectives in line with its Environmental Sustainability Strategy.
“Moira Shire is certainly interested in doing more in the environmental sustainability area,” Ms Rice told the Chronicle after the hearing.
“Council is aiming to improve its own corporate emissions and we are actively seeking quotes for solar panels to be installed on the Cobram administration site.
“Moira Shire is also developing an Emissions Reductions Plan and we will then work to achieving those goals.
“We are very keen to work on community based renewable energy projects.
“A community solar garden that council would be shareholders in would be a fantastic way to manage emissions and we are shortly going to be gauging community interest in a solar garden.
“We are currently working through some issues and hope by speaking at the hearing, this will help.”
Feedback on the shire’s draft 2017 Environmental Sustainability Strategy will be considered prior to finalising the strategy which would then be presented to council for adoption.
Copies of the strategy and further information on how to provide feedback are available from council’s website www.moira.vic.gov.au and Customer Service Centres.