Editorial

Even a month after the Abbott government handed down the 2014/2015 budget, people are still trying to work out what the impact will be on local government, businesses and themselves.

However for the environmental sector, the changes are already quite clear. 

The National Water Commission will close in December, leaving the management of transparency in the water sector and Murray-Darling basin currently unknown.

This is just the tip of the (evidently melting) iceberg.

CSIRO has had a $111.4 million funding cut, and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), an initiative set up two years ago to improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technology, has been closed for a saving of $1.3 billion.

The ethanol industry has also faced major cuts, as has Carbon Capture and Storage technology and Cooperative Research Centers.

This year will also see the review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET), which is also likely to have targets reduced.

LG Focus’s feature section this month is on environmental management, and the range and number of article submissions we received was overwhelming.

It demonstrates that local government is the most versatile and capable level of government at implementing environmental management at a community level.
However given these cuts to environment funding, it may become a lot more difficult.

Many of the projects undertaken by local government detailed in the feature appear to have a large initial cost, but are expected to begin saving money after a several years of operation.

The winner of The Local Government Environment Awards given out by Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW) was Dubbo City Council for the Victoria Park Precinct Renewable Energy Project.

With the joint installation of solar panels on the Western plains cultural centre, solar heating at the Dubbo Aquatic Leisure center and changes to the Dubbo Family Day Care, yearly power savings have totaled over $32,000

In 2011, Dubbo City Council directed $330,000 of funding to initiate the changes.

Cuts to environmental funding could raise this initial cost further, leaving the unfortunate reality where long-term projects could be sacrificed in favor of short-term savings.

Will local government face increased costs in implementing environmentally friendly programs?

Do you think local government innovation in environmental management will suffer? 

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Email letters to editorial@lgfocus.com.au