A3 - Highlights
ESDD has continued to pursue a comprehensive program in support of the government’s vision of Canberra as a vibrant city and a place where sustainability is valued as an integral part of the way we live. Apart from ongoing activities, a range of new policies, legislation and activities were initiated and implemented. These are more fully described at Section A9 of this report.
Strategic city planning and policy
ACT Planning Strategy
The ACT Planning Strategy provides the strategic direction for future spatial planning, development and management of the ACT to help achieve the Territory’s economic, cultural and environmental aspirations. The implementation of the ACT Planning Strategy commenced in 2013 under the Planning and Development Act 2007. Actions under this whole-of-government policy are being delivered by many directorates, with ESDD providing coordination. An inter-directorate committee has oversight of the monitoring and tracking of trends and actions to achieve the strategy’s five outcome statements.
The master plan program continued to inform and guide how change can occur in key town and group centres. Preparing master plans includes extensive analysis of the issues and community engagement to understand what is valued in the centres. The plans identify key outcomes and short- to long-term actions to improve a centre's viability, environmental sustainability, safety and amenity. In 2012–13:
- master plans for Tuggeranong Town Centre and Erindale and Kambah group centres were completed
- a strategic plan for the City centre (The City Plan) commenced under an Australian Government ‘Liveable Cities’ grant
- master plans for Weston group centre, Pialligo and Oaks Estate commenced
- background studies for Woden Town Centre, Athllon Drive (Mawson) and Mawson group centre master plans commenced
- scoping for a master plan for Tharwa started.
Research, advice and analysis
A number of strategic policy initiatives were informed and completed:
- Progress continued on a regional strategic plan for land use and infrastructure (Canberra + 1) under the auspices of the ACT and NSW Memorandum of Understanding for Regional Collaboration (signed in December 2011), and in support of the Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate (CMTD).
- A scoping study into a regional knowledge portal, an on-line repository of key regional information to assist collaborative planning and service delivery, was completed.
- A better understanding was developed of the significance of food production to community health, including community consultation on community gardens and a scoping study examining the nature and characteristics of food production in the ACT and region.
- Demographic, economic and land use analysis to inform planning and land release was completed.
- The future demand for community facilities in both existing areas and new suburbs was assessed.
Land and infrastructure
The Molonglo Valley is a critical component of the ACT Government’s Indicative Land Release Programs 2013–14 to 2016–17. Significant highlights include the following:
- The Molonglo stage 2 suburbs of Denman Prospect and Molonglo were officially notified on the ACT Legislation Register in June 2012.
- The Territory Plan was amended to update the map in accordance with the planning and design framework for Molonglo Valley stage 2.
- Planning continued for the suburb of Molonglo, which includes a group centre to serve as the principal commercial centre for the district.
- The River Park Concept Plan (RPCP) for the Molonglo River corridor was endorsed in August 2012. A master plan to establish principles for the treatment of the urban edge between the corridor and stage 2 commenced in May 2013.
- The Minister determined in August 2012 that parts of Molonglo Valley do not require further environmental assessment.
- Preliminary planning studies including heritage, contamination and social needs assessment commenced for stage 3 on the northern side of the Molonglo River.
- A draft Molonglo Adaptive Management Strategy was prepared and submitted to the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC) for endorsement.
- Planning policy advice was provided to inform the land release and development process for the Molonglo Valley.
Investigations continued for the planning priority areas in Eastern Broadacre, including Symonston and Fyshwick east. Preparation of a structure plan for Symonston commenced.
Detailed planning and infrastructure investigations to resolve a range of site complexities neared completion. Outcomes will enable planning for East Lake to be finalised and provide certainty about the future development intentions for the site. A variation to the Territory Plan to rezone the land to permit higher density residential development and a range of other uses is scheduled to start in 2013.
The Indicative Land Release Programs 2013–14 to 2016–17 identifies the commencement of residential land release at East Lake in 2016–17 with the release of 100 dwelling sites.
Canberra integrated urban waterways
Implementation of the Canberra Integrated Urban Waterways program continued amid community interest and involvement.
Construction continued of The Valley Ponds in Gungahlin, which will provide multiple environmental and social benefits to the community and play a role in improving the water quality of the Ginninderra Creek catchment. The wetlands include seating, viewing spots, informal play areas, pedestrian paths and shade. An interpretive signage trail was installed and an outdoor classroom will be completed in 2013–14.
Planting continued of the landscape surrounding the Lyneham Wetland. The wetland will provide a range of benefits including water quality improvements, improved stormwater entering Lake Burley Griffin, flood detention, increased aquatic and terrestrial habitat in urban areas, provision of new recreational, volunteering and educational opportunities, and a source of stormwater to irrigate playing fields.
Construction of the Inner North Stormwater Reticulation Network commenced and is scheduled for completion in 2013–14. The reticulation network will supply stormwater captured in the inner north ponds to irrigate sports grounds and other recreational facilities.
ESDD liaised with relevant directorates regarding policy, regulatory and operational requirements for the stormwater infrastructure. A five year pilot project will inform decisions about the implementation of further broad scale stormwater harvesting networks. Issues resolved have included water pricing, subsidies, asset ownership, water quality management, public health, risk management, operational requirements, accounting and billing. The application of competition policy principles and asset licensing is being assessed and will be resolved in 2013–14 prior to the operation of the infrastructure.
A draft planning and design framework (PDF) was prepared for the future suburb of Kenny to establish the important planning requirements for the suburb. The draft PDF considered a range of matters including heritage, environmental values, contamination, stormwater management and an aquifer associated with Sullivans Creek. The PDF will be finalised to reflect the approval decision on the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment by SEWPaC.
Other significant achievements for Kenny included an odour and noise assessment for the gas pressure reduction and distribution facility adjacent to the suburb, which will inform its planning, and an application to the Heritage Council concerning the significance of a stone ruin site. The Council is considering whether to provisionally register the site.
Urban infill infrastructure
Service and utility infrastructure studies to support future master planning works were undertaken for group centres in Weston, Mawson, Tuggeranong, Erindale, Curtin and Griffith (Manuka) and for Pialligo. The studies documented the existing capacity of water, sewer, stormwater, gas and electricity services to determine the extent of infill development that could occur. They also assessed traffic and transport in the group centres and provided recommendations on required infrastructure upgrades and cost estimates.
Infrastructure studies commenced for the rural village of Tharwa and the City area.
Work proceeded on the actions for Transport for Canberra 2012, which sets the ACT strategic transport framework until 2031. A major achievement was the planning work to develop the Capital Metro light rail project. Capital Metro will provide easy, fast, frequent, reliable and high quality transport from Gungahlin into the City. It will serve as the model for a future Canberra-wide light rail network and will play an important role in the development and growth of Canberra.
Multimodal public transport
Transport for Canberra envisages a public transport system where all modes of transport – walking, cycling, public transport and driving – work together to make it easy to catch public transport. The following projects bring Canberra closer to this goal:
- Capital Metro: The feasibility of light rail transit and bus rapid transit was investigated, including integration of land use and transport opportunities, alignment options, economic evaluation and integration with other public transport. A comprehensive business case confirming the economic feasibility of the project and a concept design were prepared.
- Bus priority: The feasibility of bus priority along the Belconnen to City corridor and Canberra Avenue was determined.
- Bus stations, interchange and new bus layovers: Planning commenced to make the City bus interchange and bus system more efficient.
- Park and Ride and Bike and Ride: Planning continued to enable more people to drive or cycle to a bus stop, then park and catch a bus. Planning work supported the development of Park and Rides at Gungahlin, Canberra Avenue corridor and Athllon Drive (Wanniassa); and Bike and Rides along the Canberra Avenue, Wentworth Avenue and Gundaroo Drive corridors, Gungahlin Town Centre, Tuggeranong Town Centre and Cooleman Court, Weston.
Strategic cycle network
Strategic planning of the Canberra cycle network has been carried out. The Strategic Cycle Network Plan aims to link the growth of the cycle network to plans for future land use and to develop a network that makes cycling a viable and safe alternative for commuting to work and schools, as well as for recreation.
The first public consultation took place in late 2012, followed by a series of consultations with public stakeholders and agencies and extensive analysis to develop a comprehensive plan for cycling. The project process has identified a preferred network option with implementation plans for short, medium and long term timeframes. The final public consultation on the preferred cycle network option will be in 2013, with the Strategic Cycle Network Plan scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.
Low emissions vehicles
Work commenced on the ACT Low Emission Vehicle Strategy, which will help people choose the lowest emission new car that meets their needs and encourage use of ‘greener’ vehicles. The strategy will also identify strategic responses to reduce the emissions intensity of both private and public vehicles in the ACT.
Strategic transport investigations
Strategic transport investigations that were completed or progressed included:
- a study setting out the findings from consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on options for delivery of a culturally appropriate transport service
- a walkability study mapping the walking distances between bus stops and homes across the ACT, based on the existing road cycle and footpath networks, to enable improved planning of walking, cycling and public transport networks
- research into the development of an ACT freight strategy, which will be further progressed during 2013–14
- a community transport study, which will make recommendations to optimise the operations of a wide range of demand responsive transportation services including community buses, disability transport, transport for the elderly and the Taxi Subsidy Scheme.
An updated version of the Canberra and Queanbeyan Cycle Map was produced and launched by the Minister. More copies were printed following the successful distribution of 10,000 copies in the first six weeks of publication.
Territory Plan review and implementation
The review of the Territory Plan continued. Following an inquiry in 2012 by the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee for planning, Territory Plan Variation 306 was approved by the Assembly and commenced on 5 July 2013.
The commercial zones review led to the release for public comment of draft variation 304, which revises controls on the size of shops selling food at centres in the ACT.
A mixed use industrial area was established in Hume through Territory Plan Variation 312, while additional car parking at Calvary Hospital in Bruce was provided for by Variation 313. Opportunities to provide new emergency services centres in Belconnen and Tuggeranong were enabled by variations 315 and 316 respectively. Dickson group centre’s planning controls were updated by Variation 311, which commenced on 28 June 2013.
Draft variation 305, which would allow for the expansion of the Mugga Lane landfill site, was released for public comment in February 2013.
Impact code and estate assessment
Impact track highlights included:
- the approval of estate development plans providing for the release of 2805 dwellings
- Section 211 exemptions under the Planning and Development Act 2007 for Royalla Solar Farm (FRV) and Williamsdale Solar Farm
- the completion of environmental impact statements for Throsby Playing Fields and Hume Clinical Waste Facility
- approval of key John Gorton Drive projects and the ministerial call-in decision for Majura Parkway
- assisting the Economic Development Directorate (EDD) coordinate the strategic assessment of Gungahlin under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Estate development approval highlights included:
- approval of the first stage of Lawson South, facilitating a maximum of 1111 dwellings close to the Belconnen Town Centre
- approval of the Greenway Lakeside Estate Development Plan for eight commercial blocks to facilitate urban infill in the Tuggeranong Town Centre.
Lease administration highlights included:
- Nishi development in City: Leases were consolidated, including additional land, and incorporated a number of ‘air rights’ and ‘subterranean’ parcels granted by the ACT Government after development to ensure the final structure was wholly within the lease boundaries. The resultant holding lease was subdivided into three separate leases, each with numerous overlapping split level stratum blocks. Consequent leases have since been granted allocating uses and gross floor area limitations to each site.
- Cuppacumbalong Heritage Precinct: A variation of the Crown lease over blocks 177 and 186 Paddys River was registered to increase development rights and provide opportunities for adaptive re-use of this heritage listed property. The lease variation is supported by a conservation management plan, master plan for future development, cultural heritage and archaeological assessment, and a heritage agreement with the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development.
- ACT Tennis: Deconcessionalisation of the Crown leases over Block 10 and Block 12 Section 64 Lyneham is a key part of the $20 million Tennis ACT redevelopment of the site in partnership with Next Generation Clubs Australia and was necessary to allow Tennis ACT to fully execute partnership arrangements, including provision of court access to Next Generation members. As the premier tennis centre facility in the region, Block 12 will continue to be operated by Tennis ACT and provide access for community tennis, athlete development and competition.
- Mode 3, Block 22 Section 21 Braddon: The Lease Administration team and Environment Protection Authority agreed on a process to ensure environmental management plans are discoverable through a Title search and enforced through the provisions of the Crown lease. This process includes registration of an encumbrance on the Title.
Merit track highlights included approval for the following:
- Merit track development applications: 1153 were approved.
- Charnwood Emergency Services facility at Section 97 Charnwood: Facilitated the co‑location of ambulance and fire services to achieve a number of operational synergies and improve emergency service response times in north Belconnen.
- Gungahlin Mosque: Approved construction of a one and two storey place of worship (mosque) and community centre with associated car parking, landscaping and off-site works. The Directorate is now responding to subsequent actions before the ACT Supreme Court.
- Thynne Street Bruce – Block 5 Section 32 Bruce: Allowed the demolition of existing buildings and construction of a four storey building for commercial offices with undercroft car parking to enable the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to relocate all services and staff, currently distributed across four tenancies, to a single building, leading to greater efficiency for the services provided by the Institute.
- University of Canberra General Practice Clinic: Approved construction of a four storey general practice clinic within the University of Canberra premises. The facilities will deliver general practice and specialist medical services, as well as medical support services and health service training facilities.
- Brumbies Griffith redevelopment at Block 15 Section 42 Griffith: Facilitated the demolition of existing buildings and construction of two and three storey buildings comprising 131 adaptable residential units with basement car parking. The development accords with the conditions recommended by the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee for the site, including flood analysis of the site, parking, traffic management and tree protection.
- Aged care housing: Granted approval for the construction of 122 single storey independent living units in Isabella Plains, a 150 bed aged care facility in Kaleen and a 144 bed aged care facility in Stirling.
- Manuka Oval lighting: Permitted the construction of six lighting towers for television broadcasting, two sub-stations and 400 temporary seats to significantly enhance the oval, allowing night games that can be broadcast nationally and internationally.
Climate change, energy, sustainability policy
In July 2012 the ACT, with Tasmania, became the first jurisdiction to implement the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF), a comprehensive set of reforms aimed at building an efficient national market for electricity retailing aligned with the interests of ACT electricity and gas customers. NECF enhances consumer protections in the ACT; over the long term this will allow the ACT to benefit from lower prices and enhanced retail market competition.
In 2013 ESDD commenced implementation of a new reform package, developed through the Standing Council of Energy and Resources and agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in December 2012, to address concerns in the community regarding recent electricity price rises. These reforms will provide for greater demand side participation, stronger regulation of networks and better consumer representation in network price determination processes.
The ACT Government released AP2: A New Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan for the Australian Capital Territory in October 2012. AP2 sets the Territory on the path to meet its 2020 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target and establishes a strong foundation for the achievement of the overall target of being carbon neutral, or having zero-net emissions, by 2060.
AP2 contains 18 actions to achieve four primary outcomes:
- minimising the ACT’s contribution to global warming by achieving the ACT’s legislated GHG reduction targets
- ensuring a fair society in a low-carbon economy
- strengthening the ACT’s capacity to respond to a changing climate and
- creating a more sustainable future.
Work continued to achieve carbon neutrality in ACT Government operations by 2020 through the implementation of the Carbon Neutral ACT Government Framework. Endorsed in August 2012, the framework enables and coordinates a whole-of-government approach to achieving carbon neutrality in a cost-effective manner.
In the 2012–13 Budget the government established a Carbon Neutral Government Fund with a boost of $5 million to increase the existing loan facility (the Resource Management Fund). Under the funding arrangements, $5.2 million in loans has been approved to assist directorates implement energy saving initiatives. Savings generated through these initiatives are used to pay back the loan.
The project to implement a sustainability data management system (SDMS) commenced in July 2012 and is due for completion in late 2013. The SDMS is for whole-of-government sustainability data collection and reporting for energy, water and waste; it will enhance transparency and accountability of agencies for GHG emissions.
As part of the solar auction process, ten fast-track stream proposals were submitted in June 2012 and 15 regular stream proposals were submitted in April 2013. The FRV Royalla Solar Farm Pty Limited was the sole successful proponent in the fast-track stream for its 20 megawatt (MW) solar generator to be located in the south of the ACT. The generator is expected to be completed in the first half of 2014. The outcome of the regular stream will be announced in 2013–14.
The Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Act 2012, providing for an ambitious new energy savings initiative, was passed by the Legislative Assembly in May 2012. The Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS), which will initially run from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015, requires electricity retailers in the ACT to achieve a targeted level of energy savings in ACT households and businesses by undertaking ‘eligible activities’ over this period.
The EEIS is expected to reduce residential sector GHG emissions in the Territory by 6.2% while reducing household energy costs by over $2,000 per household over the lifetime of implemented measures. The EEIS specifically targets members of the ACT community most vulnerable to rising energy prices (e.g. low-income households), with electricity retailers required to achieve 25% in energy savings in those households.
The Directorate conducted an interim review of the ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags that came into effect in November 2011. The interim review, released in January 2013, found a high level of consumer support and retailer compliance.
As part of the implementation of the ACT Waste Management Strategy 2011–2025, ESDD completed an expression of interest process for the construction of a facility to recover and process the Territory’s municipal solid waste.
The Canberra and Region Heritage Festival (13–28 April 2013) had the theme ‘Milestones’. The program included over 120 events, activities and exhibitions and involved over 75 groups and individuals from the government, community and private sectors.
The 2012–13 ACT Heritage Grants Program funded 19 projects totalling $324,600. The program is the primary source of funding for individuals and community organisations involved in heritage conservation in the ACT (See also Section C16).
Administrative and operational support was provided to the ACT Heritage Council and to its comprehensive range of activities.
The Heritage Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 was tabled in the Legislative Assembly in May 2013. A four week period of public consultation on the draft Bill closed on 14 June 2013, with comments to be considered by the government prior to the finalisation of the Bill.
Nature conservation policy
In September 2012, the Conservator for Flora and Fauna released the draft ACT Nature Conservation Strategy for public comment. Finalisation of the Strategy will be completed in 2013–14.
Work continued to align processes between the Australian Government and the states and territories through COAG so these processes could be incorporated into the review of the Nature Conservation Act 1980.
The ACT Pest Animal Management Strategy and Tidbinbilla Plan of Management 2012 were finalised.
The $2.155 million ‘Building restored resilient landscapes in the ACT and greater Goorooyarroo’ project, funded through the Australian Government Biodiversity Fund, commenced. A strategic plan for the cross-border landscape of Goorooyarroo and a discussion paper on Aboriginal involvement in woodland restoration was developed. Planting commenced in the Majura Valley and additional restoration work was undertaken in West Belconnen Hills.
The Directorate received $250,001 from the Australian Government’s Regional Natural Resource Management Planning for Climate Change Fund to improve the ACT region's capacity to identify climate change mitigation and adaptation opportunities and risks. This funding will also contribute to the enhancement of the region's ability to prioritise future natural resource management (NRM) activities and investments in a changing climate.
The NRM team manages the delivery of the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country (CFOC) initiative in the ACT. In 2012–13 the ACT received $1.35 million from CFOC to support regional NRM projects, complemented by $0.49 million in ACT Government funding. The Directorate finalised the CFOC $300,000 ACT Weeds of National Significance (WONS) Devolved Grants Program that targeted the control of three locally significant WONS – blackberry, Chilean needle grass and serrated tussock. This program covered more than 10,850 hectares on 18 properties. The Directorate finalised delivery of the two-year $937,000 Caring for the Cotter Catchment project, which employed four Aboriginal trainees and an experienced supervisor to undertake environmental restoration in the Cotter catchment. The project was primarily funded under CFOC, with additional support from the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and ACTEW Water. The project has fostered numerous partnerships between agencies and the community.
In 2012–13 the ACT Environment Grants administered by the Directorate provided $166,412 for 14 projects across the ACT (see Section C16).
Under the Tharwa Fish Habitat Project, two trial engineered log jams were constructed to enable channel deepening and enhance the habitat and ability of fish to pass through a river section. Fish habitat has also been enhanced in five river reaches through the installation of fifty cod caves, 500 kilogram cement balls with holes and caves that provide small places for fish to hide, live and breed.
A new population, and only the second extant population, of the critically endangered Ginninderra peppercress was discovered on Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) managed land. Monitoring of this population has commenced and seed has been banked with the Australian National Botanic Gardens.
Vegetation mapping of over 146,000 hectares has been completed at Kowen, Majura and Jerrabomberra, is in progress at the Murrumbidgee River from Angle Crossing to Kambah Pool, and has been contracted for Namadgi National Park.
Plantings of drooping sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata) were completed to enhance habitat for glossy black-cockatoos with the involvement of Greening Australia and the Isaacs Ridge Mount Mugga Mugga ParkCare Group.
Surveys were completed for the native broad-toothed rat, the spotted tail quoll and threatened reptiles, the grassland earless dragon and the striped legless lizard.
Public consultation was undertaken on action plans. The existing action plan for the smoky mouse (Pseudomys fumeus) was revised and new plans drafted for the glossy black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami), Murrumbidgee bossiaea (Bossiaea grayi) and little eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides).
Following completion of the review of the Think water, act water policy in 2011–12, the Directorate developed a draft new water strategy, Water for the Future – Striking the Balance. The draft strategy will be released for public consultation in July 2013.
The Directorate participated in:
- the development of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan and its implementation commitments
- programs and activities with the Murray–Darling Basin Authority under the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement
- the COAG national water reform agenda
- a range of national water reform policy developments, actions and assessments under the National Water Initiative (NWI) and
- negotiations on a bilateral basis with NSW on water trading.
The Directorate also met its requirements under the Water Act 2007 (Cth).
REGULATION AND SERVICES
Work on improving the operation of construction legislation and the quality of work in the industry resulted in the Construction and Energy Efficiency Legislation Amendment Bill 2013, which was introduced into the Legislative Assembly in June 2013. The Bill includes reforms for increasing the competency of construction practitioners and giving the Construction Occupations Registrar a greater range of options to deal effectively with poor quality construction and problems with practitioner compliance. If supported, the Act will introduce a system of ongoing training for practitioners, which was a recommendation of the Building Quality in the ACT report.
The Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS) was implemented, with health, safety and performance standards for eligible activities developed. Codes of practice for undertaking, recording and reporting eligible activities were determined by the Administrator and enforced by the Directorate. The first compliance period of the EEIS commenced on 1 January 2013, with 24 eligible activities for the residential sector included from that date. Work on expanding the EEIS to business premises has started and a new determination of activities that can be undertaken for small–medium enterprises will have effect from 1 July 2013.
In support of the government’s priorities for development of land, the Directorate completed a two year program to address compliance issues and facilitate redevelopment outcomes for three types of long term vacant or underutilised sites:
- vacant land in breach of relevant Crown leases
- bushfire affected properties requiring redevelopment and
- disused service stations.
This work resulted in formal enforcement notices issued across a range of leaseholds including a Crown Lease termination notice for a long-term undeveloped single residential site. Formal notices required commencement and or completion of construction of some blocks by setting legally enforceable schedules to commence and complete construction within defined periods. These activities have seen a significant increase in actions by lessees to progress development of these sites.
ESDD took action against parties under the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 and its operational acts. Formal enforcement action has seen the Directorate involved in matters before the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT), the ACT Magistrates Court and the ACT Supreme Court.
As a result of issuing formal enforcement notices, the Directorate responded to 23 appeals in ACAT and responded to four appeals in the ACT Supreme Court, three of which are ongoing. One matter was referred to the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions and three matters referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation. These matters are ongoing.
The Branch made 610 decisions on applications for extension of time under S298A of the Planning and Development Act 2007 and issued 193 notices advising lessees that they are in breach of their Crown lease to increase compliance with the ACT leasehold system and reduce land speculation.
The Customer Services section provided broad ranging support to ESDD's external customers and continued to assist areas across the Directorate with the delivery of their business outcomes. This included eDevelopment services and support for statutory processes such as development application (DA) assessment, building approvals, ACAT hearings, licensing enquiries, booking of inspections and conveyancing applications.
Environment protection and water regulation
The Environment Protection and Water Regulation branch continued to administer the provisions of the Environment Protection Act 1997, Water Resources Act 2007, Lakes Act 1976 and the Clinical Waste Act 1990. These activities ensure the natural environment and water resources of the Territory are managed sustainably for the protection of human health and the environment.
The Directorate continued its review of the Environment Protection Act 1997, which is considering the effectiveness and appropriateness of the objects of the Act and whether the provisions of the Act are sufficient in enabling effective responses to new activities or environmental pressures as they arise. The review is also examining the efficacy and relevance of both the Act and the Environment Protection Regulation 2005 by considering whether there is a sufficient range of regulatory options to ensure regulatory response is proportionate to the environmental risk or harm.
Office of the Surveyor-General
The Office of the Surveyor-General has statutory responsibility to maintain the digital representation of all land parcels and to authorise deposited plans before they are registered at the Office of Regulatory Services. The number of land parcels (blocks) registered via this process has been increasing steadily since 2006 (just under 1000) to 1950 in 2010 and 2500 in 2012. However, early figures suggest a significant reduction in registrations is likely in 2013.
The section is also responsible for public place naming, whole-of-government mapping services and ACTMAPi, the ACT Government’s on-line mapping service. ACTMAPi is becoming increasingly popular and integral to government business as a result of recent and on-going upgrades and the realisation of its potential.
The Directorate offers ACTSmart incentive and assistance programs that encourage and support resource efficiency by ACT residents, businesses and schools. It also supports a community water quality monitoring program to raise awareness, educate, monitor, restore and protect our waterways.
Since starting in 2011, the Outreach program has helped 3357 low income households improve the energy and water efficiency of their homes, reduce their energy and water consumption, and contribute to reducing greenhouse emissions. The program provides access to a range of services depending on need, including home energy and water efficiency assessments, education, retrofits and replacement of inefficient essential appliances. Estimated savings per year from energy-efficient appliances (refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, draught sealing and window treatments) and retrofits installed in 2012–13 are 1049 MWh in energy and 456 t CO2 -e in greenhouse gas emissions.
The ToiletSmart program, which replaces single flush and older dual flush toilets with water efficient toilets and installs low flow showerheads, has been refocused to concentrate on low income households, including pensioners. GHG savings due to the program (from reduced water treatment) are estimated at 354 t CO2-e in 2012–13, with cumulative savings of 1317 t CO2-e from 2008 to 2012–13.
The Home Energy Advice Team (HEAT) offered an energy audit to owners of homes built in or before 2006. Audit participants were eligible to apply for a $500 rebate when they spent at least $2,000 on priority energy efficiency improvements identified during the audit, plus a refund of the $30 audit fee. HEAT also provided free advice to residents on energy efficiency by telephone, email and face-to-face consultations. Estimated savings per year under the HEAT audit and rebate program in 2012–13 were 485 MWh in energy and 302 t CO2 -e. An independent program evaluation compared consumption for Canberra households to HEAT participants and found those with an audit and rebate saved on average 2.9% per year in electricity and 9.6% in gas. This resulted in average savings of $71 per year on electricity bills and $97 on gas bills. A wider study of Canberra residential energy and water consumption by the ANU indicated that savings resulting from the HEAT program were larger than those found in the program evaluation.
The HEAT, GardenSmart and ToiletSmart rebate programs closed by June 30 2013 as part of a review of incentive and advice programs delivered by government. This decision took into consideration new government initiatives in energy and water including the retailer-based EEIS and the expanded Outreach low income energy efficiency program as well as the improved water security of the ACT.
The ACTSmart Office and Business programs, which help organisations put more efficient recycling and waste management into practice, continued to be strongly supported, with 653 sites participating since the programs commenced in 2009.
The ACTSmart Public Event recycling program, which helps event organisers implement and improve recycling facilities at their events, supported 49 events attended by 905,000 people during 2012–13. The program was extended to cover all events under the ACT Centenary of Canberra celebrations.
The ACTSmart Business Energy and Water program, which provides advice and financial assistance for efficiency upgrades to small businesses in the ACT to help reduce energy and water consumption, commenced on 1 July 2012 and assessed 112 small businesses. Each received a tailored energy and water action report that identified efficiency upgrade opportunities as well as no-cost and behaviour change recommendations. Businesses were eligible to claim 50% of costs of approved upgrades up to $5,000.
The ACTSmart Government Energy and Water Program provides tailored assistance and advice to ACT Government agencies in energy and water efficiencies. The program commenced in September 2012. As at June 2013, 21 government sites had signed up to the program, representing eight directorates. Participating sites receive a comprehensive report identifying efficiency upgrade opportunities, which can be used to support applications to loan funding through the Carbon Neutral Government Fund.
All ACT schools are signed up to the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) ACT, which supports schools to introduce sustainable management practices into every day school operations and encourages change to more sustainable behaviours in the wider school community. As at 30 June 2013, electricity and water consumption levels in accredited AuSSI schools was lower than non-accredited schools.
Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch and coordinators in the Southern ACT Catchment and the Cooma Monaro Catchment have continued to participate in the Actions for Clean Water project (ACWA) with the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority, Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment Coordination Committee, ActewAGL, ACTEW and the ACT NRM Council.
Platypus monitoring continued to grow in its third year, with significant new information obtained concerning platypus survival rates during moderate flood events.
Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch's Catchment Health Indicator Program continues to provide at-a-glance sub-catchment health information to the community and state and local governments. Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch is increasingly being used to foster cross-border partnerships that improve the integration of NRM activities.
The Corporate branch provides a comprehensive range of services designed to support ESDD in its fundamental business activities.
During the year the branch continued to play a key role in the practical management of issues deriving from the creation of ESDD in May 2011. This included, in particular, the finalisation of accommodation arrangements for the new Directorate leading to the co-location of staff in Dame Pattie Menzies House (DPMH) in Dickson, except for the continuing Customer Service Centre at Mitchell, and staff of the Conservation Policy Research team remaining in facilities leased from CSIRO at Crace.