We are very excited to announce two new team members in the Environment team, who will join Melinda Curtis (Regional Policy & Program Manager), in delivering a range of ongoing and new Environment program initiatives across the Hunter and Central Coast. They include Chris Dart – Regional Project Officer (Simtables for Community Empowerment) and Anna Flack as our Regional Environmental Projects Coordinator.
Chris joins us from Lake Macquarie City Council. He has six years’ experience in local government and consultancy, where he has worked on programs addressing contaminated land, disaster resilience, circular economy and waste. Anna has five years’ experience in the water industry working across programs including innovation, climate change adaptation and urban cooling, liveability, water quality improvement, contaminated land management and nutrient offsetting.
As well as Anna and Chris, we have also engaged Anna Lundmark from Stella Nord consulting to provide direct support to the ongoing delivery of the Regional Contaminated Land Program. Anna has extensive experience in the field of contaminated land management, including previously working with the Hunter JO coordinating earlier delivery of the Regional Contaminated Land Program.
The IP&R Resilience project is kicking off! The Transforming Resilience with the Integrated Planning & Reporting Framework Project will provide a pathway to embed disaster resilience into the local Government IP&R Framework so Councils and communities in the Hunter JO region can adapt, survive and thrive.
We’re currently in the research and planning stage and will be reaching out to our Council and regional stakeholders in the upcoming months. If you’d like to be involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our contact list.
Contaminated Land Council Regional Capacity Building Program
It has been great to see that many Councils are utilising the help desk function. Through the help desk, we provide support for any technical issues you may have on contaminated land projects, whether it is for Council lands or through the development application process. If you have any questions or problem sites you wish to discuss, send an e-mail to email@example.com
A couple of regional program highlights from recent months are:
- The announcement of the consolidation of three State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs), including SEPP 55 – Remediation of Land, into one “Resilience and Hazards SEPP”. We have been advised that the changes are purely administrative at this stage and do not include any changes to the content. The new SEPP will begin on 1 March 2022. A factsheet about the changes can be accessed here.
- The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) review of contaminated land information on local council planning certificates in NSW (2020) was released and an information session held by Local Government NSW, attended by most of the Hunter Region’s Councils. Local Government NSW compiled feedback into a report for NSW EPA to consider. The document can be accessed HERE.
It has been a pleasure to catch up with many of our Councils throughout December and January to talk about your progress, priorities and needs in contaminated land. Based on your feedback, we are preparing a series of training events and get togethers as follows – Invites and detailed agendas will be distributed in the coming weeks:
- Contaminated Land for Asset Managers – one online training session (approx. 2 hrs) about considerations for Council’s asset managers when it comes to contamination on Council land.
- Contaminated Land through the Planning Process – 3-4 sessions online for approximately 2 hrs each. These sessions link the steps in the contaminated land assessment process to the planning consent conditions, and how to review consultants’ reports.
- Problem Contaminants: One-day face to face forum about asbestos and Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
- UPSS refresher training: an opportunity for Councils to attend a refresher regarding their responsibilities under the UPSS regulation (2019), and practical implications.
- Bi–monthly Meetings: online catch-ups every second month to discuss the CRCB program progress and provide a forum for the participating Councils to discuss contaminated land matters.
Climate Change IP&R Package
Last month, the Hunter JO presented at the Local Government Professionals IP&R Conference to give an overview of our Climate Change IP&R Package that was released as a working draft in October last year. This package is part of our Act Now on Adaptation: Coastal Wise Communities project. This package is a support resource that is designed to assist Councils in including Climate Change provisions in the Community Strategic Plan, Delivery Program and Operational Plan.
We are currently in the process of reviewing and incorporating the Council feedback and any policy changes.
The Hunter JO’s work in the Climate Change space has been consistently recognised in different forums. Last year the Hunter JO was nominated as a finalist for the Climate Council’s Climate Champion award. The CPP Climate Awards recognise the work of local government organisations paving the way to a zero-carbon future.
The Hunter was the first region nationally to have all Member Councils join the Cities Power Partnership, Australia’s largest local government climate action network.
In November, the Hunter JO was recognised for this award in the Legislative Assembly of the NSW Parliament. This recognition came from Ms Jenny Aitchison MP, Member for Maitland.
To keep up to date with all of our environment projects, head to our projects page.