WALGA undertakes both policy and projects covering a range of environmental issues, creates awareness about specific environmental issues and provides resources to support Local Government Officers and Elected Members.

EnviroNews

To subscribe to WALGA's monthly Environmental and Climate Change newsletter, EnviroNews, please click here.

WALGA Environment Platform

The WALGA Environment Team built the Environment Platform in 2019 as an online hub for the Local Government Sector to build the capacity and knowledge in Environment and Sustainability. The Platform also provides networking groups for Elected Members, Officers and Environmental Planning Tool (EPT) users.
 

Current Issues

Climate Change Authority seeking feedback on updated advice to the Federal Government

The Climate Change Authority has released a Consultation Paper on updating its previous advice to the Federal Government on policies to meet Australia's commitments under the Paris Agreement. WALGA is drafting a submission to the Climate Change Authority, in line with the WALGA Climate Change Policy Statement.

Local Government Elected Members and Officers wishing to contribute to WALGA's submission are asked to provide their comments to the Environment Team by EOB Thursday, 8 August. Local Governments wishing to make a submission directly to the Climate Change Authority should do so by Friday, 23 August.

WALGA's InfoPage on the consultation paper is available here.

For further information, email Environment Policy Advisor,  Laura Simes or call 9213 2049.

EPA Greenhouse Gas Guidelines: comments sought

The EPA is inviting submissions on guidelines setting out how it should consider greenhouse emissions when assessing significant proposals in Western Australia. WALGA has prepared a draft submission to the EPA, available here. The draft submission is broadly supportive of the proposed guidelines, being consistent with the WALGA Climate Change Policy Statement.

WALGA encourages Local Government Elected Members and Officers to provide input or comments on the submission by Monday, 29 July (this early deadline is to ensure feedback can be incorporated and the revised submission put to State Council). Local Governments can also make submissions direct to the EPA by Monday, 2 September.
 
WALGA’s InfoPage on the guidance is available here. Further information, including how to make a submission directly to the EPA, can be found on the EPA website.

Please email any comments through to the Environment Team by cob Monday, 29 July. For further information, email Environment Policy Advisor,  Laura Simes or call 9213 2049.

Tuart Woodlands and Forests of the Swan Coastal Plain Listed as Critically Endangered by the Australian Government

The ‘Tuart ( Eucalyptus gomphocephala) woodlands and forests of the Swan Coastal Plain’ have been listed as Critically Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, effective as of 4 July 2019. Listing means that any activity likely to have a significant impact on the ecological community needs to be referred to the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy for assessment and approval. 

The Approved Conservation Advice provides information on how to identify areas of Tuart woodlands and forests that are protected under national environmental law, and the priority research and conservation actions. The conservation advice is available on the Department of the Environment and Energy’s website.

WALGA has put together an InfoPage, which identifies the 20 Local Governments currently known to contain the Tuart woodlands and forests, summarises the key diagnostic characteristics for vegetation to be considered as part of the ecological community, and highlights the priority conservation actions. 

For further information, contact Biodiversity and Sustainability Project Officer,  Melanie Davies or call 9213 2065.

DWER Draft Compliance and Enforcement Policy

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is currently undertaking consultation on the draft Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
 
The draft Compliance and Enforcement Policy details the Department’s approach to ensuring compliance with the legislation it administers, and responding to breaches of the law to deter and punish offenders and rehabilitate damage caused to the environment.
The draft Policy covers a number of Department operational areas including native vegetation, contaminated sites, licensing of prescribed premises, water discharges and emissions, WARR Levy compliance and water licensing.

WALGA's infopage on this is available here.

WALGA is developing a sector wide Submission on the draft Policy. To contribute to the Submission, please email by 5:00pm Wednesday, 31 July. The Association encourages Local Government to provide comments directly to the Department by 5:00pm Friday, 20 September.
 
For more information, email the Environment Team.

Native Vegetation Clearing Permit Fees set to rise

The State Government has announced increases in fees for clearing permit applications made under Part V of the Environmental Protection Act (1986), effective 1 July 2019. The new fees, although less than had been originally proposed for clearing up to five ha, still represent a significant increase and impost on the Local Government sector.
 
WALGA has put together an Infopage to inform Local Government on the new fee structure and strongly encourage Local Governments in a position to lodge clearing permits by 30 June 2019 to do so.
 
For more information, contact Environment Policy Manager, Nicole Matthews or call 9213 2039

Wetland Algal Bloom Management: Sharing Treatment Outcomes

WALGA is seeking Expressions of Interest to be involved in a Wetland Algal Bloom Management initiative. The aim of the initiative is to assist Local Governments in identifying and adopting effective wetland algal treatments, to optimise use of scarce resources and increase our collective understanding of options for wetland management.

Many Local Governments are experiencing issues with algal blooms in natural and constructed wetlands. Treatments being applied to wetlands include, but are not limited to:

  • enzymes and algacides
  • phoslock and bentonite clay
  • ultrasonic treatments
  • dye
  • floating wetlands, and
  • manual removal.

WALGA will facilitate two meetings per year for Local Government to discuss treatment case studies and attend wetland site visits.

Local Governments are also invited to submit information on treatments trialled using the short project form, which will be uploaded on the New Water Ways Interactive Map to assist with sharing information on treatment outcomes.

Additionally, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) have expressed interest in undertaking ongoing monitoring of wetland parameters to provide quantitative data on applied treatments, if there are sufficient project sites to ensure a rigorous scientific study.

The key to managing wetland water quality is to prevent the causes of high nutrient levels at the catchment scale. However, it is recognised that short-term intervention at the local scale to address symptoms is part of an integrated approach being adopted by Local Government.

Please express your interest in this initiative, or submit the completed project form, by contacting Biodiversity and Sustainability Project Officer,  Melanie Davies on 9213 2065.

Sustainability Comparative Analysis Report

WALGA and the City of Perth have collaborated to put together a summary report looking at a number of the leading global sustainability frameworks available to Local Government in driving their sustainability programs.   

In approaching sustainability, Local Governments need to align their work against clear and robust frameworks. There are several sustainability frameworks that allow for this, with added benefits of benchmarking and mainstreaming sustainability across organisations.

The report reviews and analyses five frameworks that have been adopted within the sector to assess their suitability for driving sustainability organisation-wide within Local Government.

What is clear when looking at frameworks, is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for any Local Government across the board. In considering the adoption of a framework it is vital that an organisation assess their own unique and context specific requirements so that any approach can be deeply embedded and become a part of the organisations identity.

For more information, please contact Environment Policy Officer,  Jade Mains on 9213 2027.

Better Urban Forest Planning Guide

The loss of urban green space and native vegetation is a very important issue for Local Government, particularly in urban areas where there is clearing of land for infill and greenfield development. Reduced canopy cover impacts on public amenity, human health and biodiversity and as trees are often replaced with hard surfaces, this generally leads to increases in average temperatures creating urban heat islands. This often results in increased energy and water use for homes and businesses.

The changing climate is also playing a role, with increasing average air temperatures, declining rainfall and more extreme heat events. This will not only exacerbate the impacts on the health and wellbeing of the community but will affect tree retention and management for Local Governments.

To assist Local Government, WALGA along with the Western Australian Planning Commission and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage released the Better Urban Forest Planning Guide in November 2018. The Guide will assist Councils, developers and government agencies in their planning and policies around urban greening, tree retention and replacement. It includes information on planning, market based and regulatory ‘tools’, case studies that highlight ‘best-practice’ actions and how to access CSIRO’s Urban Monitor data, which is also available on WALGA’s Environmental Planning Tool.

For more information, please contact Environment Policy Advisors,  Craig Perry or Laura Simes on 9213 2049.

Sustainable Procurement in the WA Local Government Sector

The WALGA Guide to Sustainable Procurement was launched on Wednesday, 4 October as an outcome from sector consultation. With the release of international standard ISO20400:2017 on Sustainable Procurement in April 2017, the WALGA Guide to Sustainable Procurement extends the guidance of the ISO Standard on Sustainable Procurement and tailors it specifically to the WA Local Government Sector.

For more information, see the Procurement section of the WALGA website.

Assessment of the capacity of Local Government to implement environmental management and sustainability

In 2017, WALGA and Perth NRM undertook a survey of Local Government and Natural Resource Management organisations to inform the environment and sustainability programs and support that each organisation offers to the sector. The final report on the outcomes of the survey was published in October 2018.

Natural area management was identified as having the highest levels of adoption of best practice, with Local Governments reporting competency for areas such as bushland restoration and bushfire risk management. Organisational sustainability had the greatest capacity gaps for areas such as State of the Environment monitoring and changing community behaviour. Some areas were not addressed by a fifth of Local Governments, including Aboriginal cultural heritage and water sensitive urban design. Top issues Local Governments are currently dealing with include urban forest management, climate change, water availability and waste management.

The resources provided by WALGA and WA’s seven NRM organisations were reported as highly valued. Further actions to support the sector include increasing the ability of Local Government to engage with and educate local communities, facilitating the exchange of best practice knowledge and skills between government and land managers, and working with stakeholders to ensure research priorities and legislative or policy reviews incorporate the needs of local government.

WALGA has provided an InfoPage that summarises the key findings of the report.  For more information, please contact Biodiversity and Sustainability Project Officer,  Melanie Davies on 9213 2065.