Environmental Management has increasingly become crucial to the function of local government, in an effort to lessen the cost of infrastructure and services and reduce councils’ carbon liabilities. Our June feature highlights the many ways councils are responding to the challenge of protecting the environment and to the new carbon economy.
Coal Seam Gas exploration and mining is the subject of our front page story, with councils and communities across Australia demanding greater transparency in and regulation of the controversial industry. Federal and state governments are beginning to listen to the voice of the people and moves are being made to rein in the, until now, largely unfettered growth of the gas fracking industry.
The diversity of council projects that have been undertaken or are in progress in the area of environmental management is remarkable. A number of local governments have been proactive in installing solar power and lights on council buildings and roads, considerably lowering their carbon emissions.
Other councils are taking the plunge into kitchen waste collection and recycling, which seems a logical step on from paper and glass recycling and to reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. The kitchen scraps will be composted, providing a great source of food for council parks and gardens.
Right across Australia, councils are taking great pride in the efforts taken to create and maintain an environmentally sustainable community, winning a range of awards for projects such as The Grove Precinct in Western Australia, Warringah Council’s water sensitive design of a car park, and Mt Gambier’s ‘Tidy Town’ award, to name just a few.
All this activity is encouraging, as in many cases councils are leading the way in waste reduction, renewable energy, water management and flora and fauna preservation, etc.
As a number of the presentations at the Local Government Managers Association (LGMA) National Congress 2012 highlighted, local government is in a unique position to respond to climate change and to assist in the creation of sustainable communities. The breadth and depth of the projects and practices detailed in this issue suggest that many councils, and their communities, are well on the way.