The following description of agency performance is arranged by output class, with the main strategic objective and strategic indicators noted where relevant. Many of the Directorate’s activities cross more than one strategic objective.
- Regulation and services
- Planning delivery
- Planning policy
- Environment policy
- Environment protection and water regulation
- Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment
Output 1: Regulation and Services
The Regulation and Services Division comprised the Construction Services Branch, Environment Protection and Water Regulation Branch, Customer Services, Surveyor-General and Sustainability Programs. The Division included the EEIS Team until March 2014, when it moved to the Policy Division as part of the corporate restructure.
The Division delivers on Strategic Objective 6 – Achieve and maintain effective regulatory systems and Strategic Indicator 6 – Continuous Review of regulatory policies, procedures and systems and ensuring that environment protection, heritage, nature conservation and construction activities are properly
co-ordinated and effective in its application.
Construction Services Branch
Administration and policy
The Executive and Policy Section coordinates administration, quality assurance, and strategic, regulatory and operational policy for construction services. The section ensures responses to Ministerial and Government correspondence and enquiries are appropriately managed and manages the executive
of the branch.
Two specialist officers advise on policy, regulation and technical matters and give effect to Government policy. The section develops and maintains legislation administered by the Branch and prepares legislative instruments, including determinations and codes of practice for construction occupations.
The section represents the ACT in national forums on building and construction standards, policy for the built environment and regulatory reforms for the sector, including the Building Codes Committee and the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency as it relates to building, construction and regulated equipment.
The Policy Team oversaw the development and implementation of the three Construction and Energy Efficiency Legislation Amendment Acts (Construction Acts) passed in 2013–14 and other policy and technical amendments affecting the construction sector.
The first Construction Act included reforms to give the Construction Occupations Registrar a greater range of options to deal effectively with poor quality construction and problems with construction practitioners’ compliance with legislation. It introduced a system of ongoing training for practitioners, which was a recommendation of the Building Quality in the ACT report, strengthened licensing provisions and widened circumstances in which a skills assessment of a licensee can be requested.
The second Construction Act refined the operation of a range of regulations applying to construction and related work in the Territory and the EEIS. In response to the ongoing review of the Building Act 2004, new offences and penalties that reflect the potential seriousness of failing to comply with the requirements for carrying out building work were also adopted.
The third Construction Act created a ‘public register’, that will contain information on construction licensees including their compliance histories so that consumers will be better informed when they are considering engaging construction practitioners. That Act also expanded the EEIS Administrator’s powers to manage compliance under the Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Act 2012.
The Gas Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 introduced into the Legislative Assembly in June 2014
proposes a number of amendments to improve the regulatory system for gas safety, including transferring the accreditation of gas appliance workers to the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act, revising product approval processes and removing outmoded regulations.
The Policy Team manages the Building Act review and continues to consult with the Building Act Review Reference Group, which includes representatives of the ACT construction industry, building owners’ representative groups and associated government authorities. Public consultation on the Building Act review and reforms will commence with the release of a discussion paper in 2014–15.
The team also conducted information and consultation sessions for industry and the public on regulation, new standards and policy proposals, including the regulation of design and inspection practitioners. A discussion paper was released in December 2013 on the Regulation of Construction Design and Inspection Practitioners. Proposed reforms for improved accountability respond to the Building Act review and the recommendations of the Getting Home Safely report.
The Quality Assurance Team develops and audits statutory processes for construction legislation. The team assists with operational policy, reporting and quality assurance in administering and enforcing legislation for building, electrical, plumbing and gasfitting work.
Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme
This team administered the EEIS until March 2014 when the responsibility was transferred to the Energy Policy Branch. The team oversaw the implementation of the expansion of the EEIS to business activities on 1 July 2013 and managed retailer compliance, training, reporting and scheme development. For further information, see the EEIS Annexed Report.
Utilities, land and lease regulation
The Directorate continues to focus on its pro-prosecution and pro-rectification policy for building quality matters in Class 2 (apartment) buildings.
Utilities, Land and Lease Regulation has carriage for compliance and enforcement of building industry laws, land use laws and technical regulation of the Territory’s utilities. The section investigates formal complaints made under the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 or the Planning and Development Act 2007. It also audits and regulates the technical performance of licensed utilities under the Utilities Act 2000.
The Utilities Technical Regulation Team regulates utilities licensed under the Utilities Act 2000 for compliance with technical requirements. The team works closely with the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission to regulate and audit utilities. The Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission has carriage of licensing and pricing regulation of utilities.
The Fee Compliance Team makes determinations on breach of completion covenants in Crown leases. Breaches of five years or longer give rise to a yearly fee.
This year saw an increase in the number of cases being litigated. The complexity of cases reported last year continued for this financial year. The time taken to complete matters is improving albeit slowly. A challenge for the section is the difference between the perception complainants have of how long a case should take to resolve and how long a case actually takes to resolve.
Breach Management is the lead unit for case tracking. Case tracking brings together key personnel to discuss the best strategy for difficult and long-term cases. If required, cases are allocated to the Breach Management Team or given specific directions for the referring team to complete. Case tracking also follows enforcement action. In some cases it is decided that there is not enough evidence to pursue matters, or that it is not possible to obtain evidence to pursue matters.
In 2013–14 the team prepared two prosecution briefs, with one matter proceeding to court. Two matters that had been referred to the Australian Federal Police in the previous financial year were still under investigation at the end of this financial year.
Various licensing actions were taken against construction occupation licensees. In conjunction with the Investigations Team, in 2013–14, Breach Management issued more rectification orders against licence holders to rectify building work not compliant with the National Construction Code of Australia.
Sixteen new matters went to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT). One matter went to the Court of Appeal. During this period there were two notices to terminate Crown leases. At the end of the financial year, the team was managing 45 complex cases, including 26 matters being litigated.
The Investigation Team’s eight inspectors investigate all formal complaints under land and construction laws.
The majority of investigations were begun through the formal complaint process set out in the relevant legislation. The section received 603 new complaints including 298 related to planning laws and 305 related to construction laws. The section completed 854 investigations into building, planning and Crown lease breaches, 186 more than the previous year. This equated to a case load of approximately 106 investigations per inspector. The section provided advice in response to approximately 130 letters to the Minister, 45 more than the previous year.
The team also receives ‘Section 50’ notices from building certifiers which inform the Construction Occupations Registrar of work that is not compliant with building approvals or planning approvals. Building certifiers lodged 46 ‘Section 50’ notices, five less than the previous year. The team issued 16 stop work notices, 10 show cause notices, made two controlled activity orders, issued 14 intention to issue rectification notices and made six rectification orders. In conjunction with the Audit Team there were seven notices requiring entities to undertake building work.
The majority of cases are resolved through first stage enforcement mechanisms such as warning letters, or by drawing the party’s attention to their legal responsibilities. Investigations into complaints about multi-story, multi-unit buildings remain the most challenging and time consuming work.
The Fee Compliance Team audits and enforces fees for non-compliance with commencement and completion covenants of leases (known as extension of time). The team also manages complaints lodged for investigation, liaises with complainants and manages the flow of ministerial letters in and out of the section.
During the financial year the Legislative Assembly passed major reforms to the extension of time provisions. The law now allows up to five years with no penalty for failing to comply with a completion covenant. It is no longer a breach of law to fail to comply with a commencement covenant. The hardship provisions have been modernised and are based on the hardship of natural persons affecting ability to pay the fee.
The team conducts data audits of leaseholds for compliance with completion times for development. Electronic records for completion times are matched against another set of electronic records for certificates of occupancy and use. Leaseholders without an occupancy and use certificate for over five years are then liable for an annual fee equivalent to a year’s worth of rates on the land.
In 2013–14, the team made 878 decisions relating to extension of time provisions under the P&D Act, 268 more than in the previous year.
Utilities technical regulation
The Utilities Technical Regulation Team undertakes specialised technical regulation of the ACT’s utilities, in particular the water, gas and electrical utilities. The team’s function is to ensure utilities comply with the components of the Utilities Act 2000 that ensure system safety, integrity and quality of supply.
As part of the regulation of the water utility, the team completed the endorsement process in relation to the design and construction of the Enlarged Cotter Dam. The team reviewed the safety emergency plans for all three dams servicing the ACT and reviewed the water and sewerage emergency plan for the entire network in the ACT. The team also worked closely with ActewAGL to improve the content and timing of gas and electrical emergency plans.
The team conducted audits consistent with its four year plan for auditing (2011–15). The areas audited were:
- electrical distribution networks: audit conducted on vegetation clearances on 60 sites; supported the Electrical Inspectorate in the auditing of the Royalla Solar Farm particularly with the high voltage transmission (underground) and connection to the Theodore zone substation
- gas distribution networks: audit conducted to determine hazardous area assessment of gas meter set installations
- water supply and sewerage: sewerage network planned maintenance.
The Construction Occupations Section comprises four teams: construction occupations licensing; the electrical inspectorate; the plumbing/gasfitting inspectorate; and the construction audit team. Responsibilities rely on effective carriage and operation under a range of construction industry laws including the Architects Act 2004, the Building and Construction Industry (Security of Payment) Act 2009, the Building Act 2004, the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004, the Electricity Safety Act 1971, the Gas Safety Act 2000, the P&D Act, the Water and Sewerage Act 2000, and the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 and various regulations and instruments.
Construction occupations licensing
The Licensing Team is responsible for assessing applications for construction occupations licences, accreditations and registrations associated with the construction industry under the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 (COLA), the Gas Safety Regulation 2001 and the Architects Act 2004. These laws regulate architects, asbestos assessors, asbestos removalists, builders, building assessors, building surveyors, electricians, gas appliance workers, plumbers, gasfitters, drainers, plumbing plan certifiers and works assessors. As of 30 June 2014, the ACT had over 11,000 entities that were either licensed under COLA, held a gas appliance worker accreditation or were registered as an architect.
The primary role of the Licensing Team is to assess new applications and to renew existing licences across the various construction occupations, gas accreditation and architect registrations. Details of the number of licences, accreditations and registrations newly issued and renewed during the year are in the table below.
New construction occupations licences issued
Construction occupations licences renewed
New architect registrations
27 (including 1 new organisation)
Reapplication architect registrations (those who previously held an accreditation but had let it lapse)
Architect registrations renewed
New gas appliance accreditation issued
Gas appliance accreditation renewed
The team refused over 40 licence applications this year. The refusals have resulted in only two applications being made to the ACAT seeking reviews of the Construction Occupations Registrar’s (Registrar) decisions. ACAT affirmed the Registrar’s decision in one of the matters and the other is still ongoing.
In addition to assessing licence applications, the team is responsible for the administration and management of the four construction occupations licensing advisory boards (Building, Electrical, Plumbing and Asbestos) and the ACT Architects Board. For further information, see the COLA Annexed Report.
The team undertakes a variety of enforcement activities under COLA. This has included:
- investigating breaches of advertising requirements
- issuing infringement notices
- undertaking actions in relation to automatic suspensions of licences
- assisting Breach Management in litigation processes.
The Construction Audit Team is responsible for auditing the performance of licensed builders, building surveyors, building assessors and works assessors against the provisions of the COLA and the relevant operational laws including the Building Act 2004.
This is achieved by undertaking random and targeted audits of building work and associated documentation. The audits have two main purposes; firstly, to identify deficiencies in the operations of individual licensees, and secondly to identify trends within industry. The results of audits provide an evidence base for the review of operational and strategic policy within the construction industry.
The team reports directly to the Registrar and works closely with other areas of the Construction Services Branch in progressing matters of non-compliance and providing input to future policy development.
The team also conducts audits on a range of residential energy ratings issued by licensed building assessors on new building work and on energy efficiency rating statements for sale and lease of residential premises. The Civil Law (Sale of Residential Property) Act 2003 and Residential Tenancies Act 1997 require that an energy efficiency rating statement be provided by owners of certain residential premises.
New approved building work
Audit by report or software assessment – new house/apartment1
Audit by physical inspection – new house/apartment
Total building approval energy rating audits:
Sale or lease of premises
Audit by report or software assessment2
Audit by physical inspection
Total sale of premises energy rating audits:
Total audits of residential energy ratings 1 July 2013 – 30 June 2014:
|Proportion of audits of residential energy ratings 1 July 2013 – 30 June 2014||Percent|
New house/apartment energy rating audits as a percentage of BCA building class 1, and sole occupancy units in class 2 and 4 building approval submissions3
Sale or lease of premises audits as a percentage of energy efficiency rating statements submitted
1 Audits involve a comparison of the energy efficiency rating against approved building plans and submitted documentation.
2 Audits involved a comparison of the energy efficiency rating statement against available building information.
3 A single dwelling approval may contain multiple dwellings.
The Electrical Inspectorate Team inspects electrical wiring work undertaken by licensed electricians, investigates complaints and where necessary imposes disciplinary actions or sanctions against license holders. The team also investigates fire and shock incidents and monitors product safety.
The electrical inspectorate undertook 6230 inspections of new electrical work and 2180 inspections of PV arrays, 1433 and 151 less than last year respectively. About 1500 more inspections were made on a random basis of alterations and additions to existing electrical installations.
There was a small increase in PV inspections from the previous year’s 2029 to 2180. The Directorate continues to see peaks in inspection requests whenever there are changes in the value of Small Scale Technology Certificates and in electricity generation input tariffs. The current rate of inspections would be considered to represent a baseline of installations in the absence of changes in Commonwealth or Territory policy on small scale PV systems. The large scale solar farms such as the 20 MW site at Royalla have and will continue to rely on the resources of the electrical inspectorate.
During 2012, the electrical inspectorate determined that commercial electrical contractors were not adequately ensuring that fire-rated cables installed for lifts and other air handling and fire safety services essential to structural fire safety design for life safety were supported by certified cable tray support systems. Industry consultation over the past financial year saw compliance levels and understanding of the requirements continue to increase among the larger electrical contractors, building surveyors, project managers and fire engineers. There are still some non-compliance issues with smaller contractors however the inspectorate actively engaged in consultation with industry representative bodies to improve the awareness and the knowledge base of small contractors, enabling greater levels of compliance by the general industry, now more aware of the issue.
The electrical inspectorate and Worksafe ACT focused on supervision of apprentices during 2013–14. Following industry consultation with industry representative bodies and the vocational education providers the inspectorate issued new advisory notes on supervision with a view to increase enforcement of the supervision guidelines.
High voltage work is now becoming more common in electrical installation work as carried out by licensed electricians, as opposed to work by the utilities. The electrical contracting industry has progressively been moving into this space, which has been created by ActewAGL. The electrical inspectorate will commence the formulation of policy on inspections on high voltage installations in the 2014–15 year.
Plumbing and gasfitting inspectorate
The Plumbing and Gasfitting Inspectorate inspects plumbing, drainage and gasfitting work undertaken by licensed plumbers, drainers and gasfitters. The team also investigates complaints and undertakes disciplinary actions where necessary.
The inspectorate validates submissions for the installation of Type B gas appliances in domestic and commercial applications. Type B gas appliances are described as gas appliances with gas consumption over 10 megajoules per hour for which a certification scheme does not exist.
During 2013–14 the inspectorate inspected 4750 new plumbing installations and 3112 new gas installations, a decrease of 816 and 669 respectively on last year, and 94 Type B gas validations. The inspectorate’s management has been proactive in working with the Canberra Institute of Technology on a successful validation of assessment project. Management also attended several meetings of the Master Plumbers Association to keep industry informed of any regulatory changes.
The Construction Services Branch supports the Director-General, Executive Director Construction and Client Services Division and the Construction Occupations Registrar in various national forums, most particularly the Australian Building Codes Board.
The branch is engaged in reforms initiated by Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on occupational licensing, the National Construction Code and the work of the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency as it relates to building, construction and regulated equipment. Officers from the branch provide valuable input to standards and policy reforms.
The level of activity and call for officers to participate in national discussions continues to be high, particularly for the national licensing reforms and safety and environmental standards. Officers represent the ACT and its interests in the following national forums:
- National Plumbing Regulators Forum
- National Building Code Committee
- Plumbing Code Committee
- Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council
- Builders Licensing Australasia
- Australasian Building Certifiers Forum
- Gas Technical Regulators Committee
- Energy Supply Industry Safety Committee
- relevant Australian Standards committees
- relevant industry skills councils.
Further information may be obtained from:
Mr Craig Simmons
Director, Construction Services
Telephone: 02 6207 6322
The Customer Services Team provides general advice to the Directorate’s external clients and assistance to the Directorate’s operational areas. It deals with enquiries about a range of application, procedural and process matters via the public counter, over the phone and by email.
The Dickson Customer Service Centre deals specifically with the administrative processes associated with the development application process; handles enquiries and processes associated with construction occupations licensing; coordinates all processes associated with appeals to ACAT; handles counter sales of land information products; and provides lease conveyancing advice.
The Mitchell Customer Service Centre deals specifically with the administrative support associated with the building approval process, enquiries and processes related to building, electrical, gas and plumbing work, processing building conveyancing requests; preparing tax depreciation packages; and processing building file search requests.
- 1113 development applications were lodged
- 4718 building approvals were received
- 100% of DAs and building approvals were lodged online using eDevelopment
- 3787 certificates of occupancy and use issued
- 1540 certificate of compliance were issued
- 18,495 electrical inspections and 14,505 plumbing inspections were booked
- 8594 lease conveyancing enquiries were processed
- 5413 building conveyancing enquiries were processed
- 2714 building file searches were undertaken
- 3835 energy efficiency rating submissions were lodged
- 57,741 calls were received on the Customer Service public telephone line
- documentation for 17 appeals was prepared for the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal
- 42 applications for reconsideration were processed
- 9159 plumbing plans were lodged
- 7975 plumbing plans were approved
Further information may be obtained from:
Mr John Meyer
Executive Director, Regulation and Services
Telephone: 02 6207 2644
Office of the Surveyor-General
The Surveyor-General has statutory responsibility under the Surveyors Act 2007 to regulate surveying and register land surveyors within the ACT. In accordance with the Districts Act 2002, the office maintains the integrity of the cadastre and certifies all deposited plans to be registered with the Land Titles Office. The number of land parcels (blocks) registered increased steadily from 2006 (just under 1000) to 1950 in 2010 and 2600 in 2012. However, there has been a significant reduction, with approximately 1340 blocks registered over 2013–14.
Over the past 12 months the Survey Section has been re-measuring the major survey control network. This is part of a national initiative which will result in a new coordinate system for Australia providing absolute global positioning to better than 0.2 metres across the country.
As part of the improvement in the ACT’s coordinate network, the Directorate and Geoscience Australia established a second Continuously Operating Reference Station at Monash High School. The placement of this key infrastructure in a school is part of an ongoing initiative to encourage more students into surveying and/or spatial sciences careers.
The section is responsible for whole-of-government mapping services and ACTMAPi, the Government’s online mapping service. ACTMAPi is becoming increasingly popular and integral to government business as a result of recent and ongoing upgrades and the realisation of its potential. The most recent version allows users to ‘drag and drop’ their own data so they can analysis it against a comprehensive mapping background.
The Surveyor-General co-chairs the ACT Public Place Names Committee with Dr Jay Arthur. The Place Names Unit named approximately 40 public roads, nine parks and one hill in 2013–14. Of particular note was the naming of ‘Barrer Hill’ after ecologist and environmentalist Dr Peter Barrer, ‘Rosemary Dobson Park’ whose name was selected by local Deakin residents through an extensive community consultation campaign, and ‘Terry Connolly Road’, named for former member of the Legislative Assembly and Master of the ACT Supreme Court, Justice Terry Connolly.
The office has a long standing arrangement by way of a memorandum of understanding with the NSW Board of Surveying and Spatial Information to advance the development of the profession. The majority of the 85 surveyors registered in the ACT hold a dual licence to practise in both jurisdictions.
Further information may be obtained from:
Mr John Meyer
Regulation and Services
Telephone: 02 6207 2644
ACTSmart Sustainability programs
The Sustainability Programs Section delivers on most of the Directorate’s strategic objectives:
- Strategic Objective 1 – Leading the community towards making Canberra a zero-net carbon emitter
- Strategic Objective 2 – Promoting sustainable, secure and equitable energy supply
- Strategic Objective 3 – Securing sustainable water resources
- Strategic Objective 4 – Protecting our environment and promoting contemporary, best practice environmental standards
The Sustainability Programs Section delivered a range of ACTSmart incentive and educational programs to homes, business, government agencies and the community focusing on energy and water efficiency, waste reduction and sustainable schools.
ACTSmart programs provided direct engagement between the Government and the community to improve environmental sustainability and empower individuals and organisations to take action to mitigate climate change. The programs emphasised the importance of behaviour change combined with upgrades of equipment, facilities and appliances. The programs are producing quantified reductions in energy use, GHG emissions and waste sent to landfill.
The Sustainability Programs Section also supports a community water quality monitoring program to raise awareness, educate, monitor, restore and protect our waterways.
Energy efficiency programs
ACTSmart Home Energy Advice program
A new ACTSmart Home Energy Advice service was launched on 6 April 2014. The service offers ACT residents independent advice, information and resources to reduce household energy use. The service consists of two options:
- A free home energy advice by phone, email, website and at events
- A user-pay in-home energy efficiency assessment.
The service commenced after a Government decision to provide more cost-effective energy efficiency services for households. There is no rebate or discount associated with the service. The service provides residents with details of other programs that may assist households such as the EEIS, the Outreach Program and other ACT and Commonwealth Government initiatives.
|Program commenced||2013–14 participation||Total program participation|
Energy advice service
6 April 2014
User pay home assessments
6 April 2014
The former Home Energy Advice Team program closed on 20 April 2013 and the final 157 rebate claims were paid in 2013–14. This program offered owners of homes built during or prior to 2006 an energy audit and a $500 rebate on expenditure of least $2,000 on energy efficiency improvements, plus a refund of the $30 audit fee. HEAT answered 41,812 requests for advice since commencement in 2003, as well as providing 7297 audits and 3809 rebates since those components of the program began in 2005. The savings to date from the insulation, window treatments, efficient space heating and water heating installed during the program were:
- energy – 4060 megawatt hours (MWh) (from both electricity and gas), equivalent to the energy used by 530 houses a year1
- GHG emissions – 2734 tCO2 -e, equivalent to taking 720 cars off the road for a year.2
1 The ACT Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission has estimated Canberra households use, on average, 7.67 MWh of electricity each per year.
2 Greenhouse gas emissions for electricity have been calculated at 1.06kg CO2-e/kwh, using Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions factors for the ACT sourced from the National Greenhouse Accounts Factors 2013. The average car in Canberra emits 3.8 tCO2 –e a year.
Outreach low income energy and water efficiency program
Following a successful trial program, an expanded Outreach program was implemented in June 2011. Outreach helps low income households improve the energy and water efficiency of their homes, reduce their energy and water consumption bills, and contribute to reducing GHG emissions. Working through community welfare organisations, Outreach provides energy-efficient essential home appliances, assessments, education and retrofits to eligible households.
Outreach provides eligible low income households with some or all of the following assistance, depending on their needs:
- energy and water efficiency assessments of their homes
- new energy and water-efficient appliances to replace old, inefficient appliances
- retrofits of energy and water efficient products and repairs in their homes, such as draught proofing
- energy efficiency advice and information.
- The program was delivered through the following community welfare organisations for their eligible low income clients experiencing financial hardship, as well as clients referred from a wider network of community organisations in the ACT:
- Belconnen Community Service
- Northside Community Service
- St Vincent de Paul Society
- YWCA of Canberra.
- A panel of providers of energy efficiency services was engaged to perform the assessments, education and retrofits in clients’ homes, and provide training for energy efficiency officers, other staff and volunteers of community welfare organisations implementing the program. Outreach also works with Housing ACT to ensure the most efficient delivery of improvements for its tenants.
The Outreach Program linked with the following stakeholders, Government policies and programs in 2013–14 to ensure complementary assistance and referral processes:
- Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme
- Community Services Energy Concessions
- Housing ACT Energy Efficiency Program
- National Home Energy Saver Scheme
- ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal
- ACTEW AGL Staying Connected Program
- Targeted Assistance Strategy
- ACT Council of Social Services
- Care Financial and Salvation Army No Interest Loan Schemes.
- The program assisted approximately 1177 low income households in 2013–14. Cost effective reductions in household energy consumption and GHG emissions are expected to be achieved over the life of the energy efficiency improvements implemented with these households.
Estimated savings per year from the energy-efficient appliances and retrofits (refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, draught sealing and window treatments) installed in 2013–14 are:
- energy – 519 MWh (from both electricity and gas), equivalent to the energy used by 68 houses a year
- GHG emissions – 275 tCO2 -e, equivalent to taking 72 cars off the road for a year.
These figures do not include savings from all appliances and energy efficient products installed such as retrofitting not specified above and savings achieved by behaviour change.
The lifetime energy savings achieved from the energy-efficient appliances and retrofits (refrigerators, freezers, washing machines draught sealing and window treatments) installed prior to 30 June 2014 are 18,258 MWh (from both electricity and gas), equivalent to the energy used by 2380 houses a year.
Total program savings are being calculated in a program evaluation, using consumption data provided by ActewAGL with consent from households participating in the Outreach program. Preliminary findings show that participating households are making average annual net electricity savings of 4% compared to a control group of households not participating in the program, and have reduced energy bills, with an average annual energy bill reduction of $99 per household using electricity and $139 per household using electricity and gas. The evaluation also surveyed clients and stakeholders and found that participants experienced other benefits including improved comfort, improved health and debt reduction.
|Outreach Program||Program commenced||2013–14 participation||Total program participation|
Low income households assisted
Energy-efficient refrigerators and freezers installed to replace old inefficient appliances
Energy and water efficient washing machines installed to replace old inefficient appliances
Energy saving kits, heated throw rugs and other energy and water efficient items provided
Number of households receiving in-home energy and water assessments and education
Home energy and water retrofits
ACTSmart Business Energy and Water Program
The ACTSmart Business Energy and Water Program provides advice and financial assistance for efficiency upgrades to small businesses in the ACT to assist in reducing energy and water consumption. The program commenced on 1 July 2012.
The program is open to businesses in the ACT with electricity bills up to $20,000 per annum and/or up to 10 full-time equivalent staff. Businesses receive an energy and water assessment of their business premises conducted by an ACTSmart assessor, resulting in a tailored energy and water action report. The report recommends energy and water upgrade opportunities as well as no-cost and behaviour change recommendations. Businesses are eligible to claim a rebate of 50% of costs of approved upgrades up to $5,000, resulting in reduced energy and water consumption, and GHG emissions.
|2013–14 participation||Total program participation|
(since July 2012)
Number of businesses assessed
Number of businesses claiming a rebate
In 2013–14 the program assessed 109 small businesses, with 46 claiming a rebate to upgrade to more efficient fittings or fixtures. Estimated savings per year from the upgrades installed in 2013–14 are:
- energy – 476 MWh, equivalent to the energy used by 62 houses a year
- GHG emissions – 505 tCO2 -e, equivalent to taking 133 cars off the road for a year
- Savings from energy bills – $124,500.
Estimated lifetime energy savings from the upgrades installed since program commencement are 7182 MWh, equivalent to the energy used by 936 houses a year.
At the ACTSmart Sustainable Business Annual Awards Breakfast in June 2014, the following business received an award for its special achievements in this area:
- ACTSmart Business Energy Star – Winner: US Embassy
- ACTSmart Business Water Star – Winner: Wok It Up Gungahlin.
ACTSmart Government Energy and Water Program
The ACTSmart Government Energy and Water Program provides tailored assistance and advice to ACT Government agencies in identifying energy and water efficiencies. The program commenced in September 2012.
The program provides a site assessment to participating sites which results in a comprehensive report prepared by a Government Energy and Water Assessor. This comprehensive report can be used to support applications for loan funding through the Carbon Neutral Government (CNG) Fund to perform efficiency upgrades to reduce costs and carbon emissions.
Identified potential annual savings from the 32 sites that received assessment reports in 2013–14:
- Annual savings from ACT Government energy bills: $126,108
- Annual energy savings: 667 MWh, equivalent to the energy used by 87 houses a year
- Annual GHG savings: 707.5 t CO2 -e, equivalent to taking 186 cars off the road for a year.
|Program commenced||2013–14 Participation||Total program participation|
ACTSmart Government Energy and
32 sites from
53 sites from
Water efficiency programs
The need for residential water efficiency programs was reduced with the breaking of the drought and the improvement in Canberra’s water security due to investment in projects such as the Enlarged Cotter Dam and the Murrumbidgee to Googong pipeline. As part of a review of programs the Government closed GardenSmart, IrrigationSmart and the non-pensioner ToiletSmart programs on 30 June 2013.
In the 2014–15 Budget the Government decided to close the pensioner ToiletSmart program in September 2014. These closures refocus funding to areas of greater priority.
The ToiletSmart program assisted ACT homeowners to replace their single and older dual flush toilets with 4-star water-efficient dual flush toilet suites.
In 2013–14 this program was only available to holders of Pensioner Concession Cards, thus focussing on helping those residents most in need of assistance. Eligible pensioners received one free dual flush toilet suite replacement, a free water audit and one free water-efficient showerhead.
|ToiletSmart (pensioner only)||Program commenced||2013–14 participation||Total program participation|
Free toilets provided to Pensioner Concession Card holders
Free home water audit
Free pensioner showerheads
Water savings in 2013–14 from all toilets installed since the start the program are estimated to be 340 megalitres (ML). The cumulative water saving from 2008 to 2013–14 is estimated to be 1447 ML, GHG savings (from reduced water treatment) are estimated at 404 tCO2-e, equivalent to taking 106 cars off the road for a year, in 2013–14, with cumulative savings of 1721 tCO2-e, equivalent to taking 453 cars off the road for a year, from 2008 to 2013–14.
The program closed on 30 June 2013 and the final 87 rebate claims for participants’ expenditures on water saving products were processed in 2013–14. Over the life of the program (which commenced in January 2005), 7641 free advisory home visits were provided and 2651 rebates of $50 were paid.
Following the closure of the IrrigationSmart program on 30 June 2013, the final 21 rebate claims for participants’ expenditure on improvements to their irrigation systems were processed in 2013–14. From its commencement in February 2012 to its conclusion, the program provided 440 home visits by an irrigation specialist and paid 114 rebates of $100. The estimated water saving potential of the program was up to 33 kilolitres (kL) per participant per year1, equating to an estimated total saving of 20,500 kL up to the end of the program.
ACTSmart Business and Office and programs
The Directorate launched the ACT Government’s commercial recycling programs, ACTSmart Business and ACTSmart Office, in 2009. These programs provide assistance and accreditation to businesses and offices in the ACT to encourage and support the adoption of efficient waste management and recycling.The programs focus on encouraging participants to improve the way they deal with their waste, to redirect waste away from landfill and strive to improve sustainability and reduce the Territory’s carbon footprint.
The 686 sites across the Territory participating in these programs, include major shopping centres, fast food outlets, Canberra Stadium, Manuka Oval, Calvary Health Care and the Tuggeranong Hyperdome, with 80 of its tenants. Including the Directorate, 207 sites were accredited, meeting the recycling standard set by the programs.
1 Based on evaluation of the 2009-10 IrrigationSmart pilot program.
At the ACTSmart Sustainable Business Annual Awards Breakfast, where the following organisations received awards for their special achievements in this area:
- Outstanding results in waste minimisation – Winner: Bentleys of Canberra
- Biggest recycler – Winner: Calvary Hospital
- Innovation excellence – Winner: Gold Creek World of Learning
- Motivation excellence – Gold Creek World of Learning
- Corporate award – Winner: Schiavello – ACT
- Small business/office award – Winner: Conservation Council ACT Region
- Minister’s award for leadership – Emma Damen – Justice and Community Safety
Over 37,000 staff have access to the programs. A total of 21,197 cubic metres of waste was diverted from landfill by the 207 accredited ACTSmart sites in 2013–14. This represents a reduction in emissions of 3066 tCO2-e, equivalent to taking 807 cars off the road for a year. In 2013–14 these accredited sites also recycled approximately 16,098 cubic metres of mixed recyclables, representing 1298 tCO2-e avoided, equivalent to taking 342 cars off the road for a year, and 1746 cubic metres of organic material equivalent to 958 tCO2-e avoided, equivalent to taking 252 cars off the road for a year.
In addition to these results:
- many businesses now have waste streams collected that are not tracked in the program, such as excess food going to charity (e.g. The Yellow Van) or metals going to metal recyclers
- the program helps businesses and offices avoid over-servicing caused when bins are collected when not full
- the programs have a smart purchasing component that requires businesses and offices to look at greener purchasing arrangements and producing less packaging
- many organisations, particularly offices, now have reuse areas for stationery which further reduces waste to landfill
- the ACTSmart Business and Office programs will continue to be delivered to Queanbeyan businesses by ACTSmart staff through a cross-border agreement with Queanbeyan City Council. Given that waste generated in Queanbeyan is diverted to ACT landfills, encouraging Queanbeyan businesses and offices to improve recycling will result in less waste to landfill in the ACT.
The Directorate continued delivery of the ACTSmart Public Event program, which helps event organisers implement recycling facilities within a public event. Any community-based event is eligible including school fetes, festivals, fairs, shows or sporting events.
As at June 2014, 51 events had participated in the program, including Floriade, the National Multicultural Festival, Royal Canberra Show and fetes and fairs. Diversion of waste into recycling streams included 72,617 kilograms (kg) of mixed recycling equivalent to 92.95 tCO2-e avoided, equivalent to taking 24 cars off the road for a year, and 4675 kg of organic waste equivalent to 7.48 tCO2-e avoided, equivalent to taking 2 cars off the road for a year. Over 946,250 visitors had the opportunity to recycle at these events.
The public event program covered all events under the ACT Centenary of Canberra celebrations.
At the ACTSmart Sustainable Business Annual Awards Breakfast held in June 2014, the following events received awards for their special achievements in this area:
- Biggest recycler – small event: TEDxCanberra
- Biggest recycler – large event: Events ACT– Floriade
ACTSmart Schools implements a whole-of-school, action learning approach to sustainability that supports schools to introduce sustainable management practices into every day school operations and educate school communities to change their behaviour. All 132 ACT schools have registered with the initiative, covering over 70,500 students. The program provides schools with the following assistance:
- resources to reduce energy and water consumption and waste going to landfill (including best practice guides for energy, waste and water and accompanying curriculum units)
- workshops for teachers, school business managers and facilities managers on energy and water efficiency, establishing and maintaining environment centres/areas, student leadership, the Australian Curriculum Sustainability Priority, waste and recycling systems in schools and school PV systems as a tool for teaching and learning
- comprehensive water audits and reports with recommendations on how to reduce water consumption
- assistance to schools to establish and maintain a waste and recycling system.
- The ACTSmart Waste Program has been a major focus in 2013–14. A survey of progress with waste management and barriers to success was followed up with a program of support to help to establish waste and recycling systems, collect baseline data and assess schools for accreditation. Over the past year waste and recycling systems were established or re-established in 33 schools. This brings the total number of ACT Schools with waste and recycling systems to 86. A waste audit of several schools by ACTSmart Schools showed that over 85% of waste in schools can be reused or recycled, the bulk of this being organics. This was followed by an organics pick-up trial in a selection of schools. The cost effectiveness of pick-ups is being analysed. Additional resources have been produced to support the waste program, including:
- an interactive waste education display for schools
- a PowerPoint for schools to explain their waste and recycling system to the whole school
- a poster showing the percentage of waste types in a typical ACT primary and secondary school distributed to all schools
- two waste and recycling workshops that attracted over 90 people representing 42 schools.
Schools are currently being assessed for accreditation in the sustainable management of energy, water, waste and schools grounds and the integration of sustainability into the school curriculum. Three schools became the first to receive ACTSmart Schools Five Star Accreditation: Chapman Primary School, Duffy Primary School and Gilmore Primary School.
Accreditation standards include:
- Each school must have a reduction in water and energy consumption (unless prohibited by infrastructure) and waste to landfill measured from initial audit data.
- Recycling streams must be in place and recommendations from water and energy audits and best practice guides must be implemented.
- Schools must demonstrate plans for continuous improvement and actions taken towards raising student and staff awareness through various activities and specific curriculum focus.
- ACTSmart Schools has a comprehensive database for monitoring and reporting progress.
The comparison of consumption levels for 2013–14 between accredited and non-accredited schools is illustrated below. Note that water and energy results are based on data for Government schools only.
|Waste and recycling||Waste sent to landfill 2013–14 (m3/student/annum)|
ACTSmart Schools accredited schools
Data for 2013–14 shows that schools with ACTSmart Schools waste accreditation send 28% less waste to landfill (on a per student basis) than schools that are not accredited. In 2013–14 this equated to approximately 2835 cubic metres less waste being sent to landfill from these 51 accredited schools when compared to non-accredited schools. This represents a reduction of 410 tCO2-e.
|Water||Water use per student 2013–14 (kL/student/annum)|
ACTSmart Schools accredited schools
|Energy||Energy use per square metre 2013–14 (MJ/m2)|
ACTSmart Schools accredited schools
ACTSmart Schools has forged links with other directorates that support government sustainability objectives. These directorates include:
- ACT Health Directorate: ACTSmart Schools conducted a ‘GHG Emissions’ pilot with three schools participating in ACT Health’s Ride or Walk to School program. Schools were provided with support, training and educational resources to help them understand and calculate the GHG emissions savings through their participation in this program. ACTSmart Schools also continues to support schools participating in ACT Health’s Fresh Tastes: Healthy Food at School program.
- Territory and Municipal Services Directorate (TAMS): a TAMS NOWaste Education Officer visits schools upon request from schools participating in the ACTSmart Schools Waste Program. ACTSmart Schools cooperates with TAMS to ensure that all waste education activities are aligned and complementary.
- Education and Training Directorate (ETD): ACTSmart Schools works collaboratively with ETD to assist schools to achieve the aspirational target of carbon neutrality by 2017. In partnership with ETD, ACTSmart Schools provides environmental data, workshops for teachers, business and facilities managers, support to conduct environmental audits and ongoing education, resources and advice. ACTSmart Schools is also assisting in the delivery of the ETD Pulse (Smart) Meter Program. Since November 2013 ACTSmart Schools has worked collaboratively with ETD to identify leaks/unexplained water use in 50 schools and support schools to use the web-based interface of this project.
- As part of the ACTSmart School Grounds and Biodiversity Program, schools are offered a visit from ACTSmart Schools. Twenty-seven schools took up the offer and received advice on irrigation, plant selection and garden design (to reduce water and energy consumption), keeping chickens, composting and establishing food gardens.
Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch (Waterwatch) is a volunteer community network aimed at empowering the community to take action on catchment health. The Government funded the Waterwatch Facilitator and a part-time technical officer in 2013–14 following the cessation of funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country initiative at the end of 2012–13.
Waterwatch continued to support the more than160 volunteers monitoring more than 200 water quality sites across the region. Waterwatch participation began to grow in the Yass region with six sites up and running and an awareness-raising day with the three Yass primary schools held in spring 2013. This was supported by the Yass Valley Council and the Southeast Local Land Service.
Waterwatch data is used by a wide range of organisations such as local councils, state government agencies, private consultants, schools and non-government organisations. Waterwatch data extends back as far as 1995 in the cases of some water bodies. In August 2013, a review was released by the University of Canberra that compared Waterwatch data with professionally collected data such as that collected by the ACT Government. The review found a high correlation between data of the two types – confirming that Waterwatch provides quality data suitable for a range of applications.
Waterwatch has launched a new database with the Atlas of Living Australia that hosts all its data from across the region in one place. This data will be used for a revamped Catchment Health Indicator Program (CHiP) that is to be launched in spring 2014. The CHiP will provide the community with an excellent tool to gauge the health of local river systems.
The Actions for Clean Water Plan, launched in October 2012, is addressing the extensive erosion issues in the upper Murrumbidgee catchment. Waterwatch is part of the Actions for Clean Water Plan committee which also includes the Southeast Local Land Service, Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment Coordination Committee, ActewAGL, ACTEW Water, the ACT Natural Resource Management (NRM) Council and the Directorate. Waterwatch has assigned trained volunteers to monitor key erosion sites and is collecting valuable data that will be used to gauge the effectiveness of restoration works.
Waterwatch continues to support and promote of the popular Frogwatch program in the ACT and surrounding region. In cooperation with the ACT Frogwatch Coordinator, Waterwatch encouraged public participation in the October Frogwatch census and in ongoing frog monitoring throughout the year. A record number of over 600 surveys were submitted for the October 2013 census. This provides valuable data that Waterwatch utilises in its CHiP.
Waterwatch raised awareness on a number of catchment health issues such as the effects of illegal yabby traps on platypus and hosted clean up and planting events that highlighted the need for continuing implementation of water sensitive urban design and a need for better management of our storm water.
Wood heater replacement
This program aims to reduce the level of air pollution that results from the use of wood heaters in winter by assisting residents to replace their wood heater with a ducted gas heater or fixed flue gas heater. In January 2013, Sustainability Programs took over the administration of this program, which has been operating since 2004. Approximately 1058 wood heaters have been removed from service and replaced with cleaner, mains supplied natural gas heating options. The program provides a subsidy of $800 when replacing a wood heater with a ducted gas installation and $600 when replacing with a fixed flue gas installation. Funding for the subsidies is provided by ActewAGL Pty Ltd.
Communication and awareness
A communication and education program to increase awareness of water and energy efficiency issues and sustainable waste management was provided through a range of public events and presentations. The ACTSmart website provides households, businesses, schools and community groups with one-stop-shop access to information about Government sustainability programs as well as providing additional information and resources.
The ACTSmart Business Sustainability Expo was held in November 2013 providing businesses and event organisers a holistic approach to sustainability through direct contact with industry gathered under one roof. The Expo fosters partnerships between government, business and industries providing goods and services that improve sustainability.
In addition to the ACTSmart website, the Directorate, sustainable schools and Think Water, Act Water websites were also key elements of the Directorate’s community education campaigns about sustainability programs and issues.
Energy and greenhouse gas savings from ACTSmart programs
The previous three Directorate annual reports provided estimates of energy, water and GHG savings from the ACTSmart suite of programs as a step towards more comprehensive reporting. This responded to a recommendation by the Select Committee on Estimates 2009–10 that the ACTSmart program suite develop and report against accountability indicators for energy, water and GHG savings. In its response, the government agreed that, subject to availability of data, program indicators would be developed and reported against.
In 2012–13, the Directorate completed an external review of the methodology used to calculate the estimates of savings. This found that the measurement and reporting approaches of Sustainability Programs can be considered to be on a par with good practices for similar programs elsewhere. The review also showed that, within the limitations of the programs’ scale and data collection capabilities, program measurement methods are robust and appropriate.
As part of the process of improving these measurement methods, data agreements were made with ActewAGL in 2012–13 to provide consumption data for key energy and water efficiency programs. This reflects the need to collect a number of years of consumption data for program participants in order to produce accurate data on the effect of programs on energy and water consumption, and hence GHG emissions. ActewAGL consumption data was used in 2012–13 for the evaluation of the HEAT program (refer to the 2012–13 Annual report) and is being used in an evaluation of the Outreach Program due to be completed in 2014.
Further information may be obtained from:
Mr John Meyer
Executive Director, Regulation and Services
Telephone: 02 6207 2644
Output 2: Planning Delivery
The Planning Delivery Division is responsible for reviewing the Territory Plan, the development assessment processes in the Territory, including environmental impact assessment, and the administration of the leasehold system. The division delivers on Strategic Objective 5 – Deliver spatial planning, urban design and building outcomes for the Territory that contribute to a sustainable Canberra. It also delivers on Strategic Indicator 5 – Amend planning legislation and practices to ensure delivery of land supply, housing affordability and sustainable transport options.
Where relevant, the division undertakes extensive community consultation. For more details on consultation, refer to Section B3 – Community Engagement and Support.
In 2013–14 the division comprised four sections: Impact, Code and Estate Assessment;
Merit Assessment; Lease Administration; and Territory Plan.
Impact, Code and Estates Assessment
The Impact and Estates Assessment Section is responsible for the environmental impact assessment processes under Chapters 7 and 8 of the P&D Act, including:
- preparing scoping documents
- assessing EIS and preparing advice to the Minister
- assessing and preparing advice to the Minster on requests for exemptions from the preparation of an EIS under s. 211 of the P&D Act
- preparing responses to referrals received under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)
- administering the Commonwealth/ACT bilateral assessment agreement under the EPBC Act
- assessing impact track DA
- assessing merit track applications where an environmental significance opinion has previously been provided under s. 138AA of the P&D Act.
The section also assesses DAs for EDPs, primarily for new residential estates but also for industrial and commercial subdivision proposals. Key impact and estate development proposals approved during the year included the Jerrabomberra Solar Facility, Royalla 20 MW Solar Farm, Molonglo Sewer, Theodore to Gilmore Transmission Line upgrade, and Molonglo S2 East West Arterial Road Stage 1 – John Gorton Drive to Intersection 1.
Exemptions were granted under s. 211 of the P&D Act from the requirement to prepare an EIS for the EPIC Low Cost Tourist Accommodation, Cabin and Camping Development at Block 799 Gungahlin, the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment Area and the Molonglo Valley Stage 2 Urban Development, Infrastructure and Link Bridge.
EIS assessment reports for the Minister’s consideration were completed for Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre Expansion, Craven’s Creek Water Quality Control Pond and Lawson South 132 kV Power Line Relocation.
The section prepared responses to four referrals under the EPBC Act from the Australian Government for potential controlled action projects.
Using the ‘call-in’ powers of the P&D Act, the Minister approved the Royalla Solar Farm impact track development application. The approval included the construction of a 20 MW solar power generation station including a solar array and associated buildings.
The section approved EDPs providing for the release of 224 single dwelling blocks and 5 multi-unit blocks providing for the release of 244 dwellings. This is a 2561 dwelling decrease from the blocks for 2805 dwellings approved the previous year. EDPs approved in 2013–14 included:
- Common Ground, Gungahlin: 2 blocks to facilitate the Common Ground supportive housing project
- Molonglo Demonstration Village: 76 dwellings (56 single dwellings and 3 multi-unit blocks)
- Ngunnawal 2C Stages 7-9: 168 single dwellings.
The section also approved two significant EDPs for the Woden town centre. Approval of the Woden Bus Interchange EDP facilitates the demolition of the existing bus interchange and police station, establishment of a temporary bus interchange, development of a new bus interchange and creation of blocks for the future expansion of the Woden Westfield shopping centre. Approval of Woden Section 9 EDP creates three blocks including a block for a future commercial development, a future park and the realignment of Corinna Street to facilitate the expansion of the Business zone in the Woden town centre.
The Merit Assessment Section has three separate units based on geographic areas – north, south and Weston Creek/rural. Each unit assesses merit track applications and determines exemption declaration applications under s. 1.100A of the Planning and Development Regulation 2008. Staff attend tribunals and courts on DA related matters.
In 2013–14 the section assessed 1079 merit track DAs. Determinations were made within statutory timeframes for 71.5% of merit track DAs.
The section managed 562 exemption declaration applications, with an average determination time of nine working days. Exemption declaration applications enable single house developments with a minor non-compliance with the setback, building envelope and/or area of private open space to be assessed efficiently and, in many cases, be declared exempt work and therefore not requiring development approval. This process provides a simpler process for proponents of single house developments and frees up staff time to consider more complex development proposals.
The section assessed a wide range of complex and mixed-use DAs, most notable of which were:
- Blocks 17, 18, 19 and 28 Section 1 Aranda: construction of an emergency services facility (ambulance and fire and rescue station)
- Block 8 Section 47 Belconnen: construction of a 27 storey mixed-use development, containing a hotel with 96 rooms, 235 residential apartment units with a podium car park
- Block 1 Section 1 Bruce: construction of a five storey carpark (comprising approximately 704 car spaces) and associated works ancillary to the Calvary Hospital
- Block 1 Section 85 Calwell: construction of an emergency services facility (fire and rescue station)
- Block 2 Section 598 Chisholm: construction of 21 supportive housing residential units in two and three storey buildings for the Commissioner for Social Housing
- Block 3 Section 2 City: construction of 12 levels of residential apartments with 191 residential units above three levels of podium car parking, 1,300m2 of retail floor space and basement car parking, and retention of the western office block tower
- Block 1 Section 23 Coombs: construction of an integrated housing development for a total of 76 dwellings comprising 56 compact single dwelling blocks and five multi-unit blocks, each with four dwellings
- Block 1 Section 4 Gungahlin: construction of a single level warehouse in excess of 10,000m2 and approximately 11 other commercial tenancies on a split level with associated onsite car parking and retention of a remnant eucalypt
- Block 4 Section 226 Gungahlin: construction of a four storey building of 10,644m2 to include office space, retail and commercial units, a child care centre, a cafe and car parking on grade
- Block 16 Section 3 Phillip: construction of a mixed use development comprising two storeys of commercial use and multi-storey car park (7 levels)
- Block 7 Section 79 Phillip: construction of a single storey purpose built facility for the existing Canberra College Cares program
- Block 1 Section 47 Wright: construction of a residential development, ranging in height from two to six storeys and containing 180 residential units with basement car parking.
Lease Administration is responsible for managing the leasehold system under Chapters 7 and 9 of the P&D Act. The section comprises three subunits: Leasing DA, General Leasing and Deed Management.
Data on statutory approvals and processes for the lease administration section are set out below.
|Further leases||Executive leases||Rent re-appraisals||Section 2981 transfers||Land rent payouts||Other subleases and transfers|
1 S.298 - Transfers of undeveloped land where development covenants are include in the Crown lease.
|Section 3031 Licences||Section 303 licences (telecommunications)||Motor vehicle licence advice||Liquor licence advice||Purpose clause interpretation|
1 S.303 - Licences over unleased Territory land, including encroachment licences.
|Community title applications||Unit title applications|
|Land withdrawal||Grazing licences||Further leases offers||Acquisitions|
Offers 2 and Granted 7
|LDA Leases1||Private development leases3|
1 Consequent leases issued from a holding lease.
189 + 83 Combined with design and siting
171 + 65 Combined with design and siting
80 + 59 Combined with design and siting
58 + 46 Combined with design and siting
4 remissions, two at 55%, two at 255%
1 partial waiver of 25%
All attract a remission of 25%, two at 100%
2 waivers of 100% each
Section 277 component attract 25% remission
Change of use charge4
All attract a remission of 25%
1 S.276E chargeable variation – lease variation charge is calculated in accordance with the codified schedules (Disallowable Instrument DI2011-198)
2 S.277 chargeable variation – LVC is assessed by a land valuation process taking into account the before and after values of the lease to determine the added value.
3 S.277E/S.277 – the approved lease variation includes both codified and valuation components.
4 The DA was determined prior to 1 July 2011 and the LVC is assessed under the provisions of the unamended Planning and Development Act 2007 as Change of Use Charge.
Leasing DA is responsible for:
- assessing merit and impact track applications to vary a Crown lease
- Lease Variation Charge (LVC) assessments and determinations
- applications to deconcessionalise leases and concessional lease determinations
- all pre and post DA leasing advice and processes, including registrations
- leasing input into, and leasing checks on, all DAs (excluding existing dwellings)
- attendance at tribunals and courts on lease variation and LVC appeals.
Under delegation from the Commissioner for Revenue, Lease Administration administers the LVC, which came into effect on 1 July 2011. Sections 278 to 278E of the PD Act permit determinations to authorise remission of LVC in specified circumstances. These sections are heads of power available to be used should government policy require remissions. The following remission determinations are on the legislation register:
- Remission of LVCs Determination – General Remissions (DI2011-197)
- Remission for Community Purposes – Housing Assistance (DI2011-318)
- Remission for Community Purposes – Child Care Centres (DI2014-97)
- Remission for Adaptive Reuse – Public Art (DI2012-79)
- Remission for Environmental Remediation – Former Service Stations (DI2012-125)
- Remission for Economic Stimulus and Sustainability (DI2014-48)
During the year the Remission for Community Purposes – Health Services (DI2011-320) – expired and the Remission for Adaptive Reuse – Environmental Performance (DI2012 - 78) – was repealed.
During 2013–14, two new appeals were lodged with ACAT. The Directorate’s decision was upheld in one appeal, related to the addition of a use to the purpose clause as part of a lease variation. ACAT reserved its decision in the other case, which related to the paying out of the concessional status of a Crown lease.
ACAT also heard a Change of Use Charge appeal. This appeal was initially heard in ACAT in 2011 and subsequently referred to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. Both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal dismissed the case, and it was returned to ACAT for continuation of the initial appeal regarding the added value created by the variation.
Two other outstanding cases were heard by the Supreme Court. The decision in one case was appealed to the Court of Appeal, where the decision has been reserved. The decision in the other case has also been reserved.
No new appeals against LVC determinations have been received. Under the Act an application for reconsideration of an LVC determination, supported by an independent valuation, must be determined before appeal rights to the ACAT may be exercised. No applications for reconsideration of LVC were received.
Three new DAs to remove concessional lease status were lodged, bringing to 14 the total number of applications lodged under the Act. The relevant leases are:
- Block 9 Section 19 Forrest – Council of Italo-Australian Organisations Inc
- Block 12 Section 19 Forrest – Council of Italo-Australian Organisations Inc
- Block 16 Section 36 Deakin – Croatia Deakin Football Club Incorporated.
- Five development applications were finalised by the registration of a new market value Crown lease:
- Block 14 Section 56 Lyneham – United Vietnamese Buddhists – Registered 2 July 2013
- Block 10 Section 64 Lyneham – ACT Tennis – Registered 26 August 2013
- Block 5 Section 24 Stirling – Canberra Labor Club – Registered 28 August 2013
- Block 12 Section 64 Lyneham – ACT Tennis – Registered 20 March 2014
- Block 13 Section 3 Phillip – Woden Tradies – Registered 12 May 2014.
Applications determined but not yet finalised are:
- Block 28 Section 34 Dickson – Dickson Tradesmen’s Club
- Block 68 Section 35 Deakin – National Association of Forest Products – approval not proceeding
- Block 5 Section 30 Braddon – Canberra Raiders
- Block 7 Section 23 City – Hellenic Club
- Block 48 Section 37 Deakin – Australian Institute of International Affairs.
During the year 104 lease variations were lodged and 103 were approved (including combined applications).
1 These figures include all DAs with a lease variation component
2 2010–11 (50% stimulus) and 2011–12 (introduction of LVC)
The post DA approval leasing process is a significant body of work for the Leasing DA Team. Ensuring compliance with conditions of development approval, payment of LVC, submission of survey plans, checking of Instruments and draft Crown leases are all part of this process. In 2013–14, 104 Crown leases and Instruments of Variation were registered at the Office of Regulatory Services.
General Leasing provides a range of services to Government, industry and the general community, including:
- granting and administering Crown leases and licences over unleased Territory land
- granting further leases and making lease determinations
- processing unit and community title applications and registrations
- determining applications for consent to transfer and other dealings in Crown leases
- managing rural leases, including processing land withdrawals and acquisitions
- advising on liquor licence and motor dealers’ licence applications and providing lease advice
- processing applications for land rent payouts and surrender of land rent leases
- rent re-appraisals and compensation for lessee-owned improvements
- attending tribunals and courts on matters pertaining to leases
- negotiating and liaising with external agencies and evaluating leasing proposals
- representing Lease Administration on policy forums and peak bodies.
The number of land rent payouts has remained steady this year with the number of applications and settlements being consistent with 2012–13. In February 2013 a $10,000 land rent security payment was introduced. Further, as of 1 October 2013, the acquisition of a new land rent block was restricted to low to moderate income households eligible for the discount 2% rate. Potentially, these changes to the scheme may reduce the number of applications for settlement in the coming year. No new land rent leases have been granted since 1 October 2013.
During 2013–14, 103 unit plans were registered compared with 95 in 2012–13, representing an 8% increase on the previous year.
In the best interests of purchasers, General Leasing has continued the practice of 100% audit of applications for unit title. An assessment of compliance issues undertaken in the previous financial year did not support the Directorate reducing the level of the audit at this time. The Directorate will continue to monitor the issue.
The trial of a two-stage submission process for approval of a units plan was not found to assist the process or shorten overall time frames.
In 2011–12 the Directorate was holding approximately $0.5 million in the form of cash bonds and bank guarantees for the completion of outstanding landscape works. These bonds were lodged between 1990 and 2007 (when the practice of taking landscape bonds ended). As no requests for refund/release of any bonds have been received, a process for review and release of the bonds and guarantees (where the company or individual can be located) has been implemented. To date, 16 landscape bonds to the value of $74,970 have been released and $381,120 remains outstanding.
In the area of rural policy, the Disallowable Instrument Planning and Development (Amount payable for, and period of, further rural lease) Determination 2012 (No. 1) (DI2012-115) is currently being prepared to increase some 20 year lease terms to 99 years.
Deed Management’s key responsibilities relate to the management of holding leases and deeds of agreement for both greenfield and brownfield land development projects where the delivery of public infrastructure is required. As part of this work, the section ensures that public infrastructure handed back to the Territory meets Territory design and construction standards as a condition of lease issue; assesses and certifies compliance with affordable housing requirements under deeds; and issues consequential leases for new estates and commercial land releases.
Deed Management fosters a holistic approach to the delivery of development projects and affordable housing in land development in the ACT through cooperation with the relevant areas of the Directorate, Economic Development Directorate (EDD) including Land Development Agency (LDA), TAMS and relevant service agencies.
During 2013–14 the work program included:
- 45 deeds of agreement under management – a further seven deeds are currently under preparation. Two deeds have been finalised and ten new deeds executed including one deed being subdivided into four deeds.
- 845 consequential leases issued, including multi-unit leases issued to private enterprise land developers (not dwellings).
- 355 consequential leases including multi-unit leases issued to the LDA (not dwellings). This figure does not include the re-issue of approximately 120 leases handed back to the LDA for re-sale.
The total number of consequential leases issued (1200) represents an approximate 9% reduction in the number of leases issued in 2012–13. The principal reason for this reduction is a softening in the market. Further, Government policy requires the LDA to equally balance land releases and infill development. Therefore, in comparison with previous years, the LDA had a stronger focus on the sale of land for multi-unit development. A single multi-unit lease may provide for any number of dwellings consistent with the Territory Plan.
The Territory Plan Section is responsible for reviewing and varying the Territory Plan, as well as providing advice on its policy content. The section also collaborates with and prepares advice for the National Capital Authority (NCA) on proposed amendments to the National Capital Plan and other planning documentation.
Eight Territory Plan variations were approved and commenced:
- 305 – Mugga Lane landfill expansion
- 306 – Residential, Estate Development and Leasing Codes
- 308 – Cooyong Street Urban Renewal Precinct Braddon Sections 52 and 57 and Reid Section 7
- 314 – Kingston Group Centre Precinct Code
- 317 – Kambah Group Centre
- 318 – Tuggeranong Town Centre
- 324 – Pialligo Industrial rezoning from broadacre to industrial mixed use
- 326 – Chisholm Section 590, Caroline Chisholm Park.
One further draft variation was recommended to the Minister:
- 304 – Commercial Zones Review.
Four draft variations were released for public comment
- 309 – Turner bus layover urban open space to transport
- 320 – Erindale Group Centre (master plan implementation)
- 321 – Pialligo (master plan implementation)
- 325 – Woden bus layover facility.
Draft Special Variation S323 for the Symonston Mental Health Facility was released for public comment.
Thirty-one technical amendments were made to the Territory Plan:
- six technical amendments requiring consultation (including code, clarification, future urban area rezoning and relocation technical amendment types)
- seventeen future urban area uplifts, some of which included ongoing provisions
- one technical amendment to bring the Territory Plan in line with the National Capital Plan
- seven miscellaneous corrections.
Other work included assessments of planning reports as required and the provision of comments regarding draft amendments to the National Capital Plan and development control plans.
The ongoing review of procedures related to development assessment and Territory Plan variations and need for amendments continued.
Minor adjustments were made to relevant legislation as part of the omnibus Planning, Building and Environment Legislation Amendment Bill process. The Planning, Building and Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (No. 2) made amendments to clarify existing procedures with respect to estate development plans, ACAT merit review and exempt development. The Planning, Building and Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2014 made minor policy amendments around the transfer of land subject to building and development provision, requirements for survey certificates, limited public notification of certain merit track development proposals, unit title applications.
The Planning and Development (Symonston Mental Health Facility) Amendment Act 2014 introduced a new fast-track Territory Plan variation process to facilitate the construction of a mental health facility at Symonston.
The Planning and Development (Project Facilitation) Amendment Bill 2014 proposed amendments the P&D Act to facilitate the construction of priority projects of major significance to the Territory and refinements to the Territory Plan variation and development assessment processes. This Bill was presented to ACT Legislative Assembly in March 2014 and the Assembly referred the Bill to the Standing Committee on Planning, Environment and Territory and Municipal Services in April for report by
8 May 2014. Community and planning sector feedback during the committee process indicated that further consultation and revision was warranted. As a result, the Government withdrew the Bill on 13 May 2014. The Government is currently reviewing its options regarding priority projects legislation.
Further information may be obtained from:
Executive Director, Planning Delivery
Telephone: 02 6207 3520
Output 3: Planning policy
The Strategic Planning Division delivers on Strategic Objective 5 – Deliver spatial planning, urban design and building outcomes for the Territory that contribute to a sustainable Canberra. It also delivers on Strategic Indicator 5 – Amend planning legislation and practices to ensure delivery of land supply, housing affordability and sustainable transport options. It also contributes to Strategic Objective 3 – Securing sustainable water resources and Strategic Objective 4 – Protecting our environment and promoting contemporary, best practice environmental standards.
The division comprised three sections at the end of the year: Major Projects and Transport; Planning and Heritage; and Planning Investigations.
The division develops city-wide urban land policies that underpin planning for future urban growth, land supply, major infrastructure for future urban areas and for the character and structure of our city. This work provides long-term planning policy and goals to promote orderly and sustainable development consistent with the social, environmental and economic aspirations of Canberra’s community. Work is consistent with the Government’s key policies – the ACT Planning Strategy, Transport for Canberra 2012, the Nature Conservation Strategy and the ACT’s climate change strategy, AP2.
Where relevant, the division undertakes extensive community consultation. For more details on consultation, refer to Section B3 – Community Engagement and Support.
The division is responsible for a wide range of activities that provide the broad strategic, city-wide planning policies for the ACT. These responsibilities include:
- the ongoing implementation of the ACT Planning Strategy together with other directorates
- delivering master plans that incorporate extensive community engagement
- preparing planning and design studies
- social infrastructure planning
- identifying strategic initiatives for urban renewal
- providing input to the land supply strategy, major projects and capital works
- providing advice about quality urban design outcomes and the public realm
- conducting urban research and monitoring.
Land planning activities include urban structure planning and investigation and feasibility assessments for new metropolitan areas. Activities are based on the Government’s Indicative Land Release Program, which sets out the sequencing and programming of land releases in the ACT. The team works closely with other directorates and agencies to ensure an adequate supply of land across the Territory. While work focuses primarily on residential land, it also supports the release of commercial and industrial land and undertakes planning work for redevelopment areas and broadacre areas.
A broad range of general policy advice was provided on matters such as water sensitive urban design, flood planning and management, airport planning and development, and ACT/NSW cross-border development.
The ACT Planning Strategy became effective from 1 September 2012, replacing The Canberra Spatial Plan 2004 as the key strategic plan that guides spatial planning and development and management of the ACT to help achieve the economic, cultural and environmental aspirations of its people. Implementing this whole-of-government policy involves considerable cross-agency co-ordination.
The ACT Planning Strategy commits to monitoring and annual reporting on the trends at the end of each calendar year, with the next report due in late 2014.
Areas identified by the ACT Planning Strategy included the West Belconnen future urban investigation area. In assisting the LDA in its investigations of this area, the Directorate reviewed and provided comment on a preliminary risk assessment to inform planning, infrastructure and environmental investigations. The western edge study and associated investigations are expected to commence in 2015, consistent with the strategy’s priorities.
Under the auspices of the ACT and NSW Memorandum of Understanding for Regional Collaboration (2011), a draft ACT/NSW Land Use and Infrastructure Framework was prepared. The Framework will provide a consistent approach to the identification and planning for infrastructure required to support growth in a cross-border setting.
The Directorate continued to work closely with Queanbeyan City Council and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment to facilitate the delivery of the South Tralee residential development within South Jerrabomberra, NSW.
The City Plan received a 50% contribution, totalling $500,000, under an Australian Government ‘Liveable Cities’ grant. Launched on 13 March 2014, the City Plan provides a spatial and strategic framework for the development of the city centre to 2030 and beyond. The plan brings together community and stakeholder input, extensive planning work, elements of the National Capital Plan and the City to the Lake proposal to put forward a clear vision for how the city centre and its parts can develop and change into the future. The City Plan seeks to provide developers, Government and the community with a clear vision for the future of the city centre, how it will look and how it will develop and grow over time.
Master plans are non-statutory documents that set a direction for local areas while considering the needs of the local and wider community, the strategic land uses, opportunities and implications for development and redevelopment, and the safety and character of the public realm. Each plan involves substantial community consultation to ensure regard for community aspirations.
Master planning activities for 2013–14 included:
- completion of a master plan for Pialligo rural village
- continuation of Oaks Estate and Weston group centre master plans, with draft master plans released for community consultation in June 2014
- commencement of Belconnen town centre, Woden town centre and Mawson group centre master plans
- scoping for master plans for Tharwa rural village and Calwell group centre.
Active Living grant to Heart Foundation (ACT)
A three year grant to the Heart Foundation (ACT) to fund the Active Living program, which commenced in 2012, continued. City Planning managed an internal steering committee with the Chief Executive Officer of the Heart Foundation to oversee the work of the Active Living Coordinator appointed by the Heart Foundation. The program implemented a suite of research, reporting and outreach projects to influence work across a number of directorates and build upon the previous work of the Active Living project administered by the Health Directorate.
Community facility demand assessments
Research continued to assess future demand for community facilities in new development areas and in existing areas that may be subject to urban intensification. The areas being considered include the city centre, Woden town centre and Mawson group centre, Molonglo Valley and east Gungahlin. There is ongoing strategic assessment and monitoring of the supply and demand and need to increase the supply of land for community facilities.
Liaison with other directorates
Significant advice and assistance was provided across a range of subject areas and activities including:
- to the LDA on land release sites
- representation at forums and meetings covering crime prevention and community safety, Active Living, Land Release Advisory Committee, Direct Sales Panel, Design Review Panel, residential and commercial advisory committees, Age-Friendly Cities Network, ACT Strategic Plan for Positive Ageing 2011–2014, and the ACT Children’s Services Forum.
Planning for the Molonglo commercial centre and environs in the suburb of Molonglo and part of the suburb of Denman Prospect continued. A concept plan and associated directions paper, which provides an implementation strategy for delivering the project vision, will be part of a technical amendment to the Territory Plan.
Investigations to inform future planning for Molonglo Valley stage 3, located between the Molonglo River and William Hovell Drive, included a community needs assessment, commercial centres provision, heritage and further environmental reviews. More detailed contamination studies, jointly undertaken with LDA,
will be completed in 2014–15. More detailed planning for Stage 3 will be completed in 2014–15.
A planning review of the north Coombs and Wright precinct was completed. A technical amendment to the Territory Plan will be undertaken later in 2014 to formally reflect the revised planning for this community, recreation and residential precinct.
The Directorate continues to provide expert technical assistance to other directorates, particularly TAMS, Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate (CMTEDD) and LDA, which are responsible for delivering land release, detailed planning and infrastructure design to service Molonglo into the long term.
Natural disaster resilience
The Directorate represented the ACT on the National Enhancing Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment initiative. Arising from the nationally agreed improvement agenda, a draft implementation strategy was prepared in consultation with the Emergency Services Agency. The Directorate assisted with the Emergency Services Agency’s review of the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan and participated in the ACT Flood Planning Committee, which is chaired by the State Emergency Service.
The Eastern Broadacre area extends from Majura to Hume on the eastern side of the ACT. Investigations for future development are continuing, consistent with the ACT Planning Strategy. An information gap analysis to define and prioritise outstanding studies and investigations commenced to facilitate and inform timely statutory rezoning and environmental approval processes.
Forward planning and an infrastructure and site servicing investigation for parts of Symonston were completed. These investigations further refined the potentially developable areas and will inform a future Territory Plan structure planning process.
Planning for the East Lake urban renewal area is being finalised with the completion of a range of site studies and investigations. This planning will enable a precinct code and variation to the Territory Plan to rezone the land for residential, commercial and open space uses to be prepared and released for public consultation in 2014–15. The outcomes of the rezoning process will provide certainty about the future development intentions for the area.
A number of infrastructure investigations required to implement East Lake commenced and will be complete in 2014–15.
Planning for the future suburb of Kenny has been reviewed and updated in response to the outcomes of the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment under the Commonwealth’s EPBC Act. This included a review of commercial and community needs and a noise assessment.
Advice on amendments to the existing Territory Plan’s East Gungahlin Structure Plan in response to the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment has been provided.
Land Requests Advisory Committee
The section continued to convene, chair, and provide secretariat services for the Land Requests Advisory Committee. As well as providing a monthly forum for communication between work-level areas across Government involved in land planning, release, management and development matters, the committee provides whole-of-government written advice on specific proposals for the non-market release of unleased land including direct sales, Government proposals and major land licences. The committee dealt with 30 submissions in 2013–14.
ACT Land Custodian information
Land custodian information identifies the ACT Government agencies responsible for unleased land and public land within the ACT. The Directorate continued the ongoing administration of changes to the custodianship map.
A number of original urban research papers were completed and web-published during the year. Topics included urban consolidation within Canberra (Canberra Central Household Survey 2001–11); demography (ACT Residential population 2003–13); employment (Employment Location in Canberra 2011); commercial office (Office Supply in the ACT 2013); and industrial land (Industrial Land Supply in the ACT 2013).
- The Directorate assisted and liaised with LDA in its investigations in the West Belconnen future urban investigation area, as identified by the ACT Planning Strategy. The Directorate reviewed and provided comment on a preliminary risk assessment to inform planning, infrastructure and environmental investigations.
- Social infrastructure planning and the development of related planning policies were completed.
- The Canberra Urban and Regional Futures project commenced with the signing of an agreement between the Directorate (on behalf of the Territory) and the University of Canberra.
- Planning and design advice was provided to internal and external stakeholders in a wide range of areas such as development proposals, development code reviews, land supply, social infrastructure, healthy cities, crime prevention, climate change adaptation, major projects and capital works.
- Secretariat and design support to the work of the ACT Government Architect was provided.
- Management of the final grants payments continued for the Tune Up Canberra grants program, which assists in the retrofitting of commercial office buildings to achieve greater efficiency in energy and water consumption.
Transport and infrastructure
The Major Projects and Transport Section has responsibility for transport policy, planning and design, with a key focus being the integration of land use and transport planning across all transport modes (walking, cycling, public transport, community transport, road transport, rail and freight). The section is also responsible for the strategic engineering planning of new development and major redevelopment areas, as well as engineering investigations and feasibility studies.
The section carries out network planning for all transport modes and transport modelling. This planning informs the setting of transport targets that are monitored and reported on by the section, as well as transport infrastructure and services planning. The section conducts transport impact assessments for new developments and has a key role in promoting active travel such as walking and cycling. The section also provides transport input on strategic planning within the Directorate and in collaboration with other directorates.
In 2013–14, the section completed a number of feasibility studies, strategic investigations and travel management activities. Work focused mainly on Capital Metro and implementation of the Transport for Canberra 2012 policy. Transport for Canberra and the ACT Planning Strategy work together to respond to and guide Canberra’s multi-centred structure to create a more compact city with transit orientation that is more economically efficient, socially inclusive, healthy and sustainable.
The initiatives in Transport for Canberra continued to move towards the Government’s 2026 target of 30% of all ‘journey to work’ trips being by walking, cycling and public transport. A Transport Report Card detailing progress since Transport for Canberra was published in 2012 will be released in 2014.
The main areas of strategic engineering focus in 2013–14 were the City Plan, East Lake and Belconnen town centre. A wide range of planning activities was also undertaken. These included consideration of the Canberra Brickworks redevelopment, Isabella Weir Dam Safety, Molonglo Odour Study, Parkes Way lowering feasibility, TAMS standards review, Eastern Broadacre planning and participation in the Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) review working group. The section provided input on land release, direct sales and estate development and provided technical advice on off-site works and development applications.
The Directorate continued to participate in national forums such as the Transport and Infrastructure Senior Officials Committee and the Council on Transport and Infrastructure and has continued to provide input to transport and infrastructure policy nationally and in the ACT.
The Adelaide Avenue (Woden to City) Bus Stop Feasibility Study investigated options for bus stops along the Adelaide Avenue/Yarra Glen corridor to provide residents, workers and visitors to Yarralumla, Deakin and Curtin safe access to the Blue Rapid bus services. Completed in July 2013, the study identified that new bus stops at Kent/Novar Street and Carruthers Street would deliver the strongest economic return with more benefits. The study recommended close coordination with the Canberra Brickworks redevelopment project and performance investigation of adjacent intersections and the existing pedestrian and cycle network to achieve safe, integrated and efficient public transport outcomes.
The City Bus Layover and Interchange Feasibility Study investigated suitable locations and a strategy for bus layovers in the city to replace the current layover in Marcus Clarke Street, which will form part of the Australian National University Exchange development. Two sites were chosen: the Turner site on the corner of Barry Drive and Watson Street and the site behind the Civic Pool, across from the National Convention Centre. Bus layovers provide facilities and amenities where drivers park buses and prepare services between journeys. The new locations will help minimise ‘dead running’ of buses and will cater for the growing use of public transport.
Completed in September 2013, the Walkability Mapping Study mapped walking distances and times between bus stops and dwellings for all suburbs in the ACT and provided a spatial understanding of public transport coverage. The study will inform future public transport planning and identify where connections should be prioritised, or where bus routes could be re-routed to provide better access for more residents. The results fed into TAMS work in improving the coverage and frequency of the bus network by straightening the routes and bus stops infrastructure works along the Frequent Network. The work also informs pedestrian network improvements in existing suburbs and is proposed to influence the footpath and walking infrastructure works shared by the Directorate and TAMS.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Transport Service Study to investigate the transport needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community was completed in consultation with the Aboriginal Transport Steering Committee and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The study will be considered by Government in late 2014, along with the Community Transport Study.
The City Plan Infrastructure Study considered the impact of the City Plan on utility services, flooding issues and WSUD infrastructure was completed in January 2014. Outcomes of the infrastructure study will continue to inform implementation of the City Plan and City to the Lake.
The Community Transport Study is investigating community transport policies, operations, planning processes and regulations to improve transport services for people who do not have access to a private motor vehicle and have difficulty using public transport or standard taxi services. The study will also consider the recommendations of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Transport Service Study. Community consultation commenced on 20 August 2013 and concluded on 4 October 2013. The study will be completed in 2014.
The ACT Freight Strategy discussion paper, released in mid-2014, seeks community and industry views on freight movement, access and impacts to inform the development of a freight strategy in the ACT. Planning for freight activities involves the integration of land-use, transport and environmental objectives to promote economic and socially equitable outcomes. The discussion paper examines existing freight policy framework relevant to the ACT, reviews current and future freight trends and issues for the Territory, and proposes strategies to overcome the identified issues.
The Transport Pricing Strategy, to be completed in 2014–15, will provide a government position on the link between parking and public transport pricing.
To be completed in late 2014, the draft ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan will ensure the ACT has effective, well linked cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. The plan identifies growth corridors and major employment and growth areas for cycling infrastructure delivery in the short, medium and long terms considering land use planning and growth developments. Building upon the existing cycle network, the plan will contribute to achieving Transport for Canberra’s sustainable mode share targets and make cycling and walking more viable transport alternatives.
The Light Rail Master Plan is investigating and identifying a potential future Canberra light rail network to guide Government’s decision making about future investment in extensions to Capital Metro light rail. The study will identify the land use, economic, social and environmental opportunities and constraints and maximise the benefits of a future light rail network. Consulting firms Arup, CBRE, Tract, Brown Consulting, Aquenta and Purdon Associates were appointed to undertake the study. The Directorate continued to provide technical support to the Capital Metro Agency.
A discussion paper on a Low Emission Vehicle Strategy was released for community consultation in June 2014. The strategy will aim to reduce vehicle-generated GHG emissions through actions that are effective in reducing passenger vehicle emissions while considering ease of implementation. The discussion paper considers three strategies and eight options. A final Strategy will be released in 2014–15.
A Transport for Canberra Report Card will be released in 2014. The report card will measure Government’s progress against the principles of Transport for Canberra and provide an update on its actions.
Government is considering policy recommendations to support the development of a parking strategy, which began in 2014 and will be completed in 2015.
Park and Ride and Bike and Ride feasibility studies have included a number of potential site studies to identify suitable locations for ‘Park and Ride’ and ‘Bike and Ride’ facilities across Canberra. Further investigation of a Park and Ride on Athllon Drive at Wanniassa is underway.
The Tharwa rural village infrastructure Study commenced in March 2013. Phase 1, which was completed in December 2013, involved documentation of the existing infrastructure, a fire risk assessment and analysis of the 100 year flood levels for the water ways surrounding the village. Phase 2 of the study will consider options for upgrading infrastructure in Tharwa.
Two new studies were initiated in East Lake, including a road network analysis and an acoustic study of the railway corridor through East Lake.
Integrated urban waterways
The implementation of the Canberra Integrated Urban Waterways program continued. This program focuses on integrating urban water management by substituting high quality drinking water used for irrigation with fit-for-purpose stormwater captured in urban ponds. The program has invested in feasibility and design studies, water pollution control ponds, stormwater harvesting reticulation infrastructure and equipment to demonstrate aquifer storage and recovery.
Projects included the following:
- Completion of construction of Dickson, Lyneham and Gungahlin Valley Ponds with the aim of improving urban stormwater quality, increased aquatic biodiversity, enhanced landscape amenity, and creation of high quality urban open spaces for passive recreation by local residents.
- Construction of the Inner North Reticulation Network resulted in the first neighbourhood scale stormwater harvesting system in the ACT. The outcome of its evaluation and monitoring will indicate cost-effectiveness, environmental and social benefits and will inform decision-making regarding future implementation of designed networks in Tuggeranong and Weston Creek.
- Design of the Weston Creek Reticulation Network was completed.
- Site assessment/cost option studies for wetland sites in Tuggeranong, Weston Creek and Ginninderra catchments resulted in an understanding of priority options for future wetlands.
- Community engagement and education through numerous public events including presentations, site visits and community planting days increased knowledge of urban waterways values by local communities and provided forums for educational institutions and local residents to participate in environmental initiatives.
Further information may be obtained from:
Deputy Director-General, Planning and Sustainability
Telephone: 02 6207 7248
Output 4: Heritage
ACT Heritage administers the provisions of the Heritage Act 2004 (the Heritage Act) and assists in the conservation of the ACT’s heritage assets to ensure their identification, preservation, protection, maintenance and conservation for present and future generations.
ACT Heritage delivers on Strategic Objective 6 – Achieve and maintain effective regulatory systems and Strategic Indicator 5 – Amend planning legislation and practices to ensure delivery of land supply, housing affordability and sustainable transport options.
ACT Heritage provides administrative and operational support to the ACT Heritage Council and its projects including:
- assessment of nominations to the ACT Heritage Register against the heritage significance criteria as defined under the Heritage Act
- reviewing and endorsing conservation management plans
- providing advice to the planning and land authority on DAs for heritage places
- educating the community about heritage registration and how it may affect individuals’ property
- providing advice to the Conservator of Flora and Fauna on greenfield development particularly in relation to Aboriginal heritage
- coordinating appeals on Heritage Council decisions in the ACAT
- undertaking the ACT Government Agency Heritage Assets Audit as required under the Heritage Act
- developing guidelines which determine how development is to take place to a heritage place or object
- co-ordinating enforcements of the Heritage Act for offences to heritage places and objects.
In addition, ACT Heritage administers the annual funding of the ACT Heritage Grants Program and coordinates a range of activities, events and projects aimed at promoting and celebrating the ACT’s heritage, including the 15-day Canberra and Region Heritage Festival and the ongoing Canberra Tracks self-drive heritage interpretation signage project.
Canberra Tracks is a heritage signage program that interprets our history
Heritage registration strategy
The assessment of the backlog of nominations to the ACT Heritage Register continued.
Further information can be seen in the Heritage Council’s annual report, annexed to this report.
- 3 nominations were made to the ACT Heritage Register
- 28 decisions were made on provisional registration
- 2 decisions were made on full registration
- 43 nominations were identified as probable duplications.
At the start of the reporting period the backlog was 190 places. However, given that there are some duplications of nominations (for example, some places have multiple nominations), at the end of the period the backlog was estimated to be 130 places. Duplications are removed at the time the assessment of that place/object occurs.
Support was provided to the ACT Heritage Council on appeals in ACAT. The Council was party to four hearings in ACAT on appealed registration decisions.
During 2013–14, a registration decision for St Patrick’s Church in Braddon, appealed during 2012–13, continued. The matter was heard from 6–10 May 2013 and 15–16 July 2013. On 20 September 2013 the Tribunal ordered that the decision to register St Patrick’s Church to the ACT Heritage Register be set aside and substituted with a decision not to register the place.
During 2013–14, a registration decision for the Yarralumla Brickworks Railway Remnants in Yarralumla, appealed during 2012–13, continued. On 10 September 2013 the Tribunal made orders by consent to vary the decision. On 7 November 2013 the Council prepared a register entry for the Remnants to accord with ACAT orders.
During 2013–14 the hearing continued for an application submitted during 2012–13 to review the registration decision to register the ‘Expansion’ Mosaic Mural Wall in Braddon as a ‘place’. The application, submitted by the proprietor of the property, argued that the mural should be listed as an ‘object’. It was common ground that the mural has heritage significance. ACAT heard the matter on 13–14 June 2013. On 5 July 2013 ACAT found that the decision to register the mural as a ‘place’ should be set aside and replaced with a decision to register it as an ‘object’.
In 2013–14, a decision by the Council not to register the Turner Housing Precinct in Turner was appealed. The matter was heard 25–28 November 2013. On 29 January 2014 ACAT handed down its decision, upholding the Council’s decision not to register the place.
No ACT Heritage Council decisions were appealed to the Supreme Court in 2013–14.
Sixteen Canberra Tracks signs were installed across the Territory, taking the total to 156, plus an additional 14 marker posts. The heritage signage program has increased private and community partnerships and built a reputation for service delivery as it responds to requests for acknowledgement of heritage sites through interpretation.
The Canberra Tracks brochure continued to be placed at 110 tourism outlets including hotels, visitor centres, railway stations, attractions and car hire depots. The branding is recognised as enhancing the experience of visitors and locals while celebrating the Territory’s built, Aboriginal and natural heritage.
The Canberra and Region Heritage Festival was held from 5–21 April 2013. The program included over 110 events, activities and exhibitions and involved over 60 groups and individuals from the government, community and private sectors. The theme of the festival was Journeys.
ACT Heritage Grants program
The 2013–14 ACT Heritage Grants Program funded 17 projects totalling $329,634. The program is the primary source of funding for individuals and community organisations involved in heritage conservation in the ACT. The table below shows the full funding breakdown for 2013–14 successful grant recipients.
|No||Organisation||Project title||Project description||Amount|
Tidbinbilla Pioneers Association Inc.
Safe Access Rock Valley Homestead
Construction of a wheelchair accessible footpath at Rock Valley Homestead complex, Tidbinbillla Nature Reserve.
Telopea Park School
Restoration of Significant Artwork
Cleaning, restoration and conservation of a large and nationally significantly work of art.
Australian Railway Historical Society
Restoration of Pullman Sleeping Car AL1040
Supply of three marble benchtops in the washrooms.
St Paul’s Anglican Church Manuka
St Paul’s Manuka Roof Conservation Works
Repair/replacement of existing and associated work to render designated sections of the roof watertight and protect the fabric of the church.
Village of Hall & District Progress Association
Hall School Museum Conservation Works and Pioneer Families Exhibition
Further conservation work on Hall School Museum collection. The Museum’s exhibition for the Heritage Festival in 2014 will be the ‘Pioneer Families of Hall District’.
Australian Railway Historical Society
Steps for viewing Locomotive 1210 cab
Provide safe access enabling the visiting public to view the cab area of Locomotive 1210, which is on the ACT Heritage Register.
Australian Railway Historical Society
Upgrade Canberra Railway Museum display
Upgrading the pictorial, written and artefact display at the Canberra Railway Museum.
Southern ACT Catchment Group
Interpretive Signage for Nil Desperandum
Provide Canberra Tracks interpretive signage for the heritage-listed Nil Desperandum homestead and surrounding sites of historical interest within Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
Molonglo Catchment Group
Interacting with the Ngunnawal Perspective
Conduct a series of ‘walk and talk’ events at various field locations in the ACT and surrounding region.
Conservation Council of the ACT
Nature’s Treasures in the Bush Capital
Develop a series of three events during the 2014 Heritage Festival to engage the community and encourage appreciation of the natural heritage sites in the ACT.
Cultural Heritage Management Australia
Archaeology of the Lanyon Precinct
Two phases of continuing archaeological investigation at Lanyon Homestead.
Ginninderra Catchment Group
Aboriginal Heritage in the Ginninderra Catchment
Raise awareness of the rich Aboriginal heritage that exists in the Ginninderra region through a series of interpretive walks and development of audio-visual web based productions.
Anglican Church of St John the Baptist Reid
Conservation Management Plan for St John’s Church Heritage Precinct
An updated Conservation Management Plan for St John’s Church Heritage Precinct Landscape will allow for effective decision making with regard to management of the heritage aspects of the precinct for the next 5–10 years.
Village of Hall & District Progress Association
Hall School Museum Ramp
Address the urgent need to construct a disability ramp to provide access to some of the displays for mobility impaired visitors.
Heritage Advisory Service
One hour free heritage and architectural advice to prospective purchasers and/or owners of heritage places.
Canberra and Region Heritage Festival
An annual three week community festival that celebrates the ACT’s Aboriginal, historic and natural heritage
Heritage Emergency Fund
Funding set aside for urgent requests that may arise between formal funding rounds.
ACT Government agency audit
The audit requires ACT Government agencies to identify and manage heritage places and objects for which they are responsible. A database with links to mapping systems was prepared to facilitate the audit and sent to Government agencies. To date, 265 heritage assets have been identified including 217 objects and 48 places.
ACT Heritage continued its high success in providing advice within mandatory timeframes including:
- 220 DAs relating to registered places assessed
- 48 DAs regarding Aboriginal heritage sites assessed (included in the above total)
- nil EIS replies for either draft EIS or final EIS
- one request for an EIS exemption
- 36 pieces of advice to the Conservator for Flora and Fauna regarding tree protection
- eight conservation management plans for historic sites assessed, two conservation management plans for historic sites approved
- 47 conservation management plans relating to Aboriginal sites assessed
- 22 pieces of advice provided, covering internal customers i.e. ACT Government agencies, but also including comments to developers on projects where the Heritage Council had already made decisions
- 176 pieces of advice provided in relation to Aboriginal heritage sites, covering internal customers i.e. ACT Government agencies, but also including comments to developers on projects where the Heritage Council had already made decisions.
Legislation and regulation
Heritage also delivers Strategic Indicator 6 – Continuous review of regulatory policies, procedures and systems and ensuring that environment protection, heritage, nature conservation and construction activities are properly co-ordinated and effective in its application.
The Heritage Legislation Amendment Bill was tabled in the Legislative Assembly in May 2013, with a four week period of public consultation. As a consequence of the public consultation, further Government Amendments will be made prior to the Bill’s finalisation and debate.
Two staff within ACT Heritage have been trained specifically in Government Investigations, allowing them to investigate compliance matters in relation to the Heritage Act 2004.
ACT Heritage continued to investigate the disappearance of two Aboriginal scarred trees from a greenfields development. The developers of the estate had approval to fell scarred trees #180 and #237 and have the scarred portion of the trunk conserved and interpreted in a public park in the suburb. The scarred portions of both trunks have disappeared.
ACT Heritage received 24 complaints relating to compliance with the Heritage Act 2004 in 2013–14. Five complaints regarded disturbance of Aboriginal heritage places and objects, one complaint related to a geological site and 18 complaints regarded works at built heritage places. Complaints regarding work at built heritage places included four complaints related to development applications were referred to the Investigations Team, Regulation and Services in the Directorate. Seven of the complaints are yet to be resolved.
Additional detail can be found in the ACT Heritage Council Annexed Report.
Further information may be obtained from:
Acting Manager, ACT Heritage
Telephone: 02 6207 7302
Output 5: Environment policy
Many of the activities of the Environment Policy Division are directly linked to Strategic Objective 1 – Leading the community towards making Canberra a zero-net carbon emitter. The Division delivers on:
- Strategic Indicator1 – Identify actions to deliver 40% GHG emission reductions compared to 1990 by 2020
- Strategic Indicator 2 – Promoting sustainable, secure and equitable energy supply
- Strategic Objective 3 – Securing sustainable water resources
- Strategic Objective 4 – Protecting our environment and promoting contemporary, best practice environmental standards.
The division comprises the Climate Change, Energy and Sustainability Policy, Water Policy, Nature Conservation Policy and Heritage sections. Heritage moved to the Strategic Planning Division as part of the corporate restructure. A separate Environment Division will be formed in the new financial year.
Where relevant, the division undertakes extensive community consultation. For more details on consultation, refer to Section B3 – Community Engagement and Support.
Mitigating for and adapting to climate change
The New Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan for the ACT, AP2, has 18 actions. The majority address climate change mitigation, responding to Strategic Indicator 1 to reduce GHG emissions. Ten actions specifically addressing GHG emission reductions were progressed:
Action 1: Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme
EEIS is being delivered under Strategic Indicator 2.2: Uptake of Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Scheme. This ambitious energy savings initiative scheme was provided by the Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Act 2012. EEIS, which initially runs 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’, with 25% of these being in ‘priority households’. The EEIS is modelled to deliver about a 6.2% reduction on emissions in 2015 and savings of 742 kt CO2-e.
When the first compliance period of the EEIS concluded on 31 December 2013, retailers reported their energy sales and the eligible activities they undertook to meet their energy savings obligation. Preliminary assessment indicated the energy savings target and 25% priority household target have been met.
During the 2013 compliance period, which ended on 31 December 2013, light globes, standby power controllers and door seals (199,659 items in total) were installed in 18,064 households, including over 7500 priority households. The Act requires that EEIS be reviewed in 2014 to determine the operation of the EEIS beyond 2015 and any changes required to improve its operation. The review, being overseen by the Directorate, is currently progressing.
To address community concerns about recent electricity price rises, reforms of the energy market were agreed by COAG in December 2012. These reforms provide for greater demand side participation, stronger regulation of networks and better consumer representation in network price determination processes.
For more information, see the Annexed Report on the operation and administration of the Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Act.
Action 3: Energy efficiency information to tenants
Consultation was undertaken with stakeholders and the community to assess whether mandating the provision of energy efficiency information to potential tenants would be effective in encouraging more energy efficiency measures in rental homes. Findings from the study were still being assessed at the end of the year. For more information, see Section B3 – Community engagement.
Action 5: Engage the community on climate change matters
Action 5 requires the ‘development of a comprehensive strategy to engage the community on climate change matters’. A community survey of 1200 households in September 2013 found a high awareness of climate change and a willingness to commit to reducing individual household emissions. A climate change communications strategy was approved by the Minister in mid-2014.
Community engagement work is progressing in partnership with six sectors identified in the strategy: households; community organisations and schools; business and industry; knowledge brokers; our region; and governments. In addition to building these partnerships (sectoral agreements), initial key actions of the community engagement strategy include:
- upgrading the ACTSmart web site as the basis of an ACT and region Sustainability Hub (web portal)
- an ongoing climate change information and awareness campaign
- integration across governments in the ACT and region on climate change matters
- increasing use of interactive media.
Action 6: Trial advanced energy technology systems
A project working group has been established with external stakeholders, including key research, trades-training and industry representatives. Significant funding and in-kind support has been committed by stakeholders, and a bid for Australian Renewable Energy Agency funding has been developed and is under active consideration.
Action 7: Business energy efficiency improvement scheme
Government considered the regulatory impact statement and agreed to extend the EEIS to business in May 2013. This initiative is being actively implemented by the EEIS Administrator and retailers.
Action 8: ACTSmart energy assist
The ACTSmart Business Energy and Water program provides advice and financial assistance for efficiency upgrades to small businesses in the ACT to help them reduce energy and water consumption. The program commenced in July 2012.
For medium businesses, a one year trial commencing August 2013 provides advice, collects information and identifies opportunities in developing a forward program for this sector. The trial of the medium business program will be reviewed in late 2014.
For more information on the ACTSmart programs, see the Regulation and Services section.
Action 10: Low emission vehicle strategy
A discussion paper on actions the Territory could take to lower vehicle emissions was released for public consultation in June 2014. The discussion paper explored ten options based around three strategies. Findings will inform the final Low Emission Vehicle Strategy. For more information, see the Transport Planning section.
Action 11: Waste management strategy
The Directorate is responsible for elements of the ACT Waste Management Strategy 2011–2025. Following a market sounding process in 2013, the Directorate began developing a detailed business case for a new Material Recovery Facility and an energy-from-waste facility. This new waste infrastructure has the potential to increase the diversion of recoverable waste from landfill from 70–75% at present to 90–95% when fully operational.
A review of the ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags, which came into effect in November 2011, was conducted as a legislated requirement of the Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2010. Released in June 2014, the review found a high ongoing level of consumer support for and retailer compliance with the ban.
Action 12: Large-scale renewable energy
Large-scale energy is supported by feed-in tariffs under the Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation Act 2011. The Act was amended in 2014 to allow up to 550 MW of large-scale renewable generating capacity to be supported.
Approximately two-thirds, 490 MW, of the ACT renewable energy target will eventually come from large-scale renewable energy generators, with up to one-third from private rooftop solar panels in the Territory and the purchase of GreenPower from the National Energy Market.
Construction was substantially completed on the 20 MW solar farm operated by FRV Royalla Solar Farm Pty Ltd at Royalla. Power generation from this facility, which was granted a feed-in tariffs entitlement in September 2012, will begin later in 2014.
In August 2013, feed-in tariff entitlements were awarded under the Large-scale Solar Auction to Zhenfa Canberra Solar Farm One Pty Limited for a 13 MW solar farm proposed to be developed at Mugga Lane, and OneSun Capital 10 MW Operating Pty Ltd for a 7 MW solar farm proposed to be built at Uriarra. As at June 2014, both proposals were pursuing development approval.
An independent review of the Solar Auction was completed in October 2013. The review’s recommendations and the Directorate’s responses were considered by the Government in February 2014. The Government agreed to amendments to the Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation) Act 2011. On 12 March 2014 the Minister announced the 200 MW Wind Auction.
On 17 April 2014 a request for proposals for a reverse auction for feed-in tariffs entitlements for up to 200 MW of wind generating capacity was released by the Government, with proposals due after the end of the reporting period. Successful proposals could be located anywhere in the National Electricity Market, which covers all states except Western Australia and the Northern Territory, but must satisfy a local ACT region investment criterion.
In February and March 2014 announcements were also made in regard to Community Solar, Next Generation Solar, Waste to Energy and the 90% 2020 renewable energy target initiatives.
Action 13: Renewable energy target
Climate Change, Energy and Sustainability Policy is delivering on Strategic Objective 2 – Promoting sustainable, secure and equitable energy supply and, in particular, Strategic Indicator 2.1 – Growth in renewable energy generation in the Territory.
The Climate Change and GHG Reduction (Renewable Energy Targets) Determination 2013 (No. 1),
providing for a 90% renewable energy target, was tabled in the Legislative Assembly and became effective
on 5 November 2013. The above-mentioned projects will play a significant role in achieving this target.
The 2010–11 GHG Inventory report indicated that 14.2% of the ACT’s electricity consumption was sourced from renewable energy.
Climate Change Council
The Climate Change Council (Council) is integral to achieving community and business support for climate change activities. During 2013–14 the Council held four formal meetings where it provided advice to the Minister and the Directorate. The focus for the Council was mainstreaming climate change, and presentations were provided to facilitate advice on the solar energy auction, community engagement, water and transport. Council members also undertook a number of engagement activities outside Council meetings and continued to increase their presence at community events and online.
Two new members joined the Council from 1 January 2014: an ACT expert in renewable energy, Mr Toby Roxburgh, and a representative of the public sector, Ms Dorte Ekelund, Director-General of the Directorate.
The Council’s annual report will be tabled separately.
Carbon neutral government
Government leading by example is an important element of AP2. The ACT Government is responsible for about 5% of the Territory’s GHG emissions and is committed to achieving zero net emissions in its operations by 2020 through the implementation of the CNG Framework.
The CNG Framework has 39 actions for execution across Government directorates. It identifies three key steps for the Government to achieve carbon neutrality in 2020:
- Step 1: measure, monitor and report GHG emissions.
- Step 2: mitigation – avoid and reduce emissions and switch to low carbon fuel sources.
- Step 3: offset residual emissions (to achieve zero net emissions in 2020).
In 2013–14, a CNG Implementation Committee and its Sub-Committee on Sustainable Government Buildings were established by the Directorate to monitor progress on the implementation of the CNG Framework and coordinate a whole-of-government approach. Seven meetings were held and an annual report on progress was provided to the ACT Government Strategic Board in June 2014.
The framework is underpinned by the Enterprise Sustainability Platform, a whole-of-government sustainability data set (tracking electricity, gas and water data) used for directorate annual reports and assessing the performance of resource management plans across Government agencies. It enables complete whole-of-government reporting of GHG emission reductions, through an annual inventory.
All directorates have up-to-date Resource Management Plans (RMP). Each plan measures the progress of resource management strategies, contains a review process to ensure the RMP is updated before expiry and states the governance process for the RMP and performance review requirements.
For 2013–14, the Directorate’s RMP focussed on implementing the findings from the ACTSmart Government Energy and Water report, in particular reducing energy use and monitoring water use. The Directorate’s Green Team assisted by promoting sustainability and resource efficiency within the agency. A waste audit was conducted, and staff engaged in minimising waste to landfill by increasing recycling. Of the 39 actions included in the RMP, seven have been completed and several others are underway.
Implementation of the CNG Framework focused on building the foundations for ongoing support to Government operations, in particular the CNG Fund and GHG Inventory. The Fund is supported by the ACTSmart Government Energy and Water Program.
Carbon Neutral Government Fund (the Fund)
In Round 3 of the Fund (November 2013) all three applications to the Fund were successful, with $1,537,694 approved. Two projects are established, but the third is unlikely to proceed due to changes to third party financing arrangements. The application process for the third project by TAMS resulted in some of the activities being undertaken outside the Fund program. For more information refer to the TAMS Annual Report. The projects that commenced in 2013–14 were:
- $93,390 to ETD for solar heating upgrade at special needs schools
- $895,000 for the installation of Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lighting at a range of primary and high schools including some equity-funded and low socio-economic schools.
One application received in June 2014 is being assessed for funding.
Many applications to the Fund are for large-scale LED lighting projects, which save energy and money. To date, installation of internal lighting in more than 40 Government buildings and schools have an estimated cost saving of $1 million per year and have reduced electricity use by 30% at project sites.
Thirteen ACT Government projects to the value of $6.2 million have been conducted under the Fund since 2009. These projects have ongoing annual cost and energy savings from the date of implementation. The estimated collaborative total of project reductions or savings for the 2013–14 year, including the two projects established this year, is:
- $1.48 million in cost savings
- 7,338 tCO2-e, equivalent to taking 1931 cars off the road for a year
- 7,542 MWh of electricity, equivalent to the energy used by 983 houses a year
- 3,230 megajoules of natural gas.
In October 2013 the Directorate released the 2010–11 ACT GHG Inventory, which was developed on behalf of the Government by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission. The inventory, which provides an assessment of both the total amount of GHG emissions and the amount of emissions per person in the Territory, is the primary mechanism by which the Government tracks progress towards the 2020 emissions reduction goal.
The inventory shows that total ACT CO2-e emissions were 4458 kilotonnes (kt). This represents a 40% increase in emissions from the 1990 baseline level of 3185 kt and a 1.4% increase from the revised 2009–10 estimate of 4398 kt.
GHG inventories provide a three-year baseline and indicate that ACT Government GHG emissions are around 225 ktCO2-e, or approximately 5% of the ACT’s GHG emissions. The inventory is available on the Directorate website.
The project to implement an Enterprise Sustainability Platform, formerly known as the Sustainability Data Management System, was completed in June 2014. The platform is for whole-of-government sustainability data collection and reporting for energy and water. It will enhance transparency and accountability of agencies for their GHG emissions, provide a baseline for ACT Government GHG emissions in pursuit of the goal of carbon neutrality in 2020 and enable the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of initiatives to increase energy efficiency in Government buildings and operations.
Technical advice via ACTSmart
The ACTSmart Government Energy and Water Program delivered 32 comprehensive energy and water assessments to ACT Government agencies in 2013–14. The assessment reports identified potential savings of 667 MWh across the 32 sites, resulting in potential annual savings to Government energy bills of $126,108, and a reduction in GHG emissions of 707.5 tCO2 –e. For more information on the ACTSmart programs, see the Regulation and Services section.
To help build resource management skills across the ACT Public Service, the Directorate established a program of capacity building events. Two workshops were held for 75 participants focusing on reducing overnight and weekend energy use, and building a successful green team. Agencies across Government are now able to hire Green Team Kits developed by the Directorate to support workplace sustainability.
Two specialist Government energy officer positions, established in July 2013 by the Property Group at TAMS, have supported Government cost and energy savings through the identification and delivery of energy projects and by integrating best practice energy management into core business of property management and maintenance. Refer also to TAMS annual report.
Improving water quality and use
The Water Policy Section made significant progress in achieving Strategic Objective 3 – Securing sustainable water resources during the year. In particular, it secured funding from the Australian Government for improving water quality and finalised the new ACT water strategy and review into Water Sensitive Urban Design. The Directorate also delivered on Strategic Indicator 3 – Work with the community on implementing the Murray–Darling Basin Plan and Strategic Objective 4 – Protecting our environment and promoting contemporary, best practice environmental standards.
Murray–Darling Basin Plan
The 2012 Murray–Darling Basin Plan (the Plan) provides a coordinated approach to water use across the Basin’s four states and the ACT. Under the Plan, from 2019 all Basin members are required to operate under a sustainable diversion limit (SDL). The SDL recognises that water resources (surface and ground water) are inter-related and water resources are finite. A SDL for surface water (watercourses) of 40.5 gigalitres (GL) per year has been set for the ACT and will come into effect in the near future. Our current use is 20 GL/year.
The Directorate has been working with the community to work within the set SDL by encouraging more efficient use of water – demand reduction and influencing behaviour change – to align with water availability under a shifting climate and population.
The ACT community has made significant progress in becoming more water efficient. Total consumption of residential and non-residential water has substantially reduced since 2003. Average consumption has fallen due to a combination of water restrictions, demand reduction (efficiency) measures and water pricing. While water restrictions have been lifted, permanent water conservation measures remain in place.
The ACT is currently developing a water resources plan, which is a requirement under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. The ACT is also committed to meeting the Basin-wide environmental objectives for water dependent ecosystems and water quality. The ACT seeks to manage water quality to ensure that water leaving the ACT is of the same quality or better as that entering the ACT.
ACT Basin Priority Project
In February 2014 the ACT Government was successful in its bid to the Commonwealth for funding of up to $85 million under the Basin State Priority Project. The ACT’s Basin Priority Project aims to improve water quality of the ACT’s catchments and, in turn, improve the health of the southern Murray–Darling Basin.
The ACT Basin Priority Project will be delivered via a two-phase process. Phase 1 will involve implementing a comprehensive water quality monitoring program, focusing on six priority catchments and including an audit of existing water infrastructure. Phase 1 is to be completed by February 2016. Tenders for this work, along with a tender for the development of a broad ‘state-wide’ (ACT) water quality monitoring framework, were issued by the Directorate. Six tender submissions for the water quality monitoring framework for the six priority catchments were received and will be assessed to determine a preferred tenderer. Procurement for the water quality monitoring framework was advertised and closed on 26 June 2014.
The project to investigate, audit and analyse existing ACT Government water quality infrastructure assets was being advertised at the end of the reporting period. This project will assess the effectiveness of existing water quality infrastructure and recommend possible augmentation and improvement opportunities. This will support the overarching objective of improving water quality in a cost effective and efficient manner.
Analysis of data collected in phase 1 will be used to inform and guide phase 2 which, subject to the Australian Government’s final assessment, will involve the construction of infrastructure interventions capable of delivering optimal water quality improvements. Phase 2 is to be completed by June 2019.
The Directorate has established a number of governance committees and working groups to ensure the appropriate management and oversight of the project. These committees and/or working groups include Commonwealth, NSW, ACT, and local government representation. There are also two project advisory groups to represent scientific, academic, peak professional and a wide range of community/catchment management groups. Inception meetings for these committees and groups occurred during May 2014 and memberships and terms of reference for each were confirmed.
ACT Water strategy
Following completion of the review of the Think Water, Act Water policy in 2011–12, the Directorate developed a revised draft water strategy, ACT Water Strategy 2014–44: Striking the Balance. The draft strategy was released for public consultation in July 2013. Following consultation, further internal review and additional targeted consultation, the strategy was redrafted. The final water strategy, scheduled for release in July 2014, will guide management of the Territory and region’s water supply and catchment practices over the next 30 years.
The water strategy includes outcomes, strategies and actions that incorporate the full breadth of water management activities in the ACT, including but not limited to catchment management, stormwater and flood management, water supply and services water for the environment, recreational water use, and public health.
The strategy includes a requirement for the development of implementation plans; the first implementation plan, to be released with the strategy, will provide a road map of the most significant milestones required to deliver the strategy’s actions from 2014 to 2018.
The strategy adheres to the Plan, which placed additional requirements on the ACT and other jurisdictions in relation to water use (a limit on water diverted) and water quality.
Catchment management governance
Effective catchment management is central to achieving improved water quality and catchment health. Establishing catchment management arrangements will strengthen coordination and collaboration across the ACT and region. The Directorate has considered a range of possible catchment governance models, with the Government to determine a way forward in late 2014.
Review of water sensitive urban design
Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is a way of planning cities that manages water runoff and ensures any runoff causes the least amount of damage from flooding and pollution. It is also about wise use of that water to improve our urban environment.
The Directorate reviewed the ACT’s WSUD regulations, which were introduced in the ACT in 2009 to reduce water use by 40% in new developments and refurbishments/extensions compared with pre-2003 levels. Extensive consultation was undertaken during the review, including industry and community workshops and a survey of stakeholders who had submitted development or building applications in the past three years. Research was also undertaken on WSUD implementation in other jurisdictions. The review was assisted by an expert technical panel.
National water reform
The Directorate continued to participate in a range of national water reform policy developments and actions through the National Water Initiative, COAG water reform agenda, and through the ACT’s participation in reforms in the Murray–Darling Basin under the Water Act 2007 (Cwlth).
Of note, the Directorate:
- participated in negotiations which led to the ACT Government reaffirming its agreement to the Murray–Darling Basin Plan and signing the Intergovernmental Agreement on Implementing Water Reform in the Murray–Darling Basin and a National Partnership Agreement
- contributed data and information to enable the preparation of the triennial National Water Reform Assessment 2014 that provides evidence-based assurance that the water reforms articulated in the National Water Initiative, along with any other subsequent reforms adopted by the COAG, are achieving their intended outcomes
- finalised the ACT administrative arrangement relating to the Living Murray Agreement
- commenced the administrative process to amend the ACT Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005 to reflect recent amendment to the Commonwealth Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005.
The Directorate participated in the early phases of the implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan and has made significant progress in developing an ACT Water Resource Plan. Water resource plans are key components in managing water resources under the implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan at both a river valley and Basin-wide level. The final ACT Water Resource Plan must be accredited by the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment.
There are high levels of community interest and active involvement in managing the health of water ways. Catchment groups, Landcare and community groups such as Frogwatch and Waterwatch contribute thousands of hours of volunteer work every year to monitor aspects of the catchment. Monitoring data collected through these groups provide a useful basis for ongoing assessments of the condition of the ACT’s waterways. Thousands more hours of community effort has gone towards restoration, such as litter removal, weed removal and planting of native species to improve catchment condition.
Waterwatch raised awareness on a number of catchment health issues such as the effects of illegal yabby traps on platypus and hosted clean up and planting events that highlighted the need for continuing implementation of WSUD and a need for better management of our storm water.
The ACT Government ACTSmart Programs deliver a range of water saving incentives and educational programs to assist households, businesses and schools improve their water efficiency. For more information on these programs, see Regulation and Services above.
In terms of reducing and better managing waste, the Directorate continued to deliver on Strategic Objective 4 – Protecting our environment and promoting contemporary, best practice environmental standards and Strategic Indicator 4 – Develop and implement ACT-wide sustainability policies including waste and biodiversity conservation.
The Directorate conducted a formal review of the ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags that came into effect in November 2011. This review was a legislated requirement of the Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2010. The review, released in June 2014, found a high ongoing level of consumer support and retailer compliance to the ban. The Directorate will conduct a further review of the ban in 2017 to determine the requirement of further actions to address plastic waste going to landfill.
The Directorate promoted effective waste management through national forums and committees established under COAG. Through these forums the Government is supporting national solutions to the sustainable management of waste plastic packaging under the Australian Packaging Covenant.
Implementation of the ACTSmart Business and Office and ACTSmart Public Event waste and recycling programs continued as part of the ACT Waste Management Strategy 2011–2025.
Nature Conservation Policy
Conservation planning and research
The activities of the Conservation Planning and Research Unit (CPR) are largely covered under Strategic Objective 4 – Protecting our environment and promoting contemporary, best practice environmental standards. CPR also contributes to Strategic Indicator 4 – Develop and implement ACT-wide sustainability policies including waste and biodiversity conservation.
CPR continued its program with a focus on providing high quality science advice and delivery of research and on-ground projects for protection of species and ecological communities. CPR conducts projects spanning flora, fauna, aquatic ecology, fire management and conservation planning.
CPR released the 2011–13 Program Report documenting Government’s research, planning and monitoring of 19 threatened species and communities, threatening processes, the collection of baseline ecological information, restoration activities and conservation planning work.
Three new action plans were prepared with input from the Flora and Fauna Committee and released in November 2013: Glossy Black Cockatoo, Little Eagle and Murrumbidgee Bossiaea. A revised action plan for the (possibly extinct) Smoky Mouse was also completed.
Vegetation mapping of the Kowen, Majura and Jerrabomberra districts of the ACT was completed and the data published on ACTMAPi and in a Technical Report available on the Directorate’s website. Mapping has progressed into Namadgi National Park.
Actions were taken to protect threatened flora. A large population of the endangered Ginninderra Peppercress was translocated into Crace Nature Reserve with extensive public participation and involvement of the Minister for the Environment. Monitoring of the Brindabella Midge Orchid continued and seed was collected from the population in Namadgi National Park, in collaboration with the Australian National Botanic Gardens, and research conducted to propagate the species as part of an ex-situ conservation strategy. Survey and monitoring were also undertaken for ACT rare or declared flora including the Tarengo Leek Orchid, ACT Spider Orchid and Small Purple Pea.
Monitoring and research on kangaroos continued. The initial two-year survey into the effects of Eastern Grey Kangaroo grazing on vegetation and reptiles within the ACT was completed. The Eastern Grey Kangaroo movement study using GPS collars and digital mapping continued at key sites around Canberra. Citizen science came to the fore on kangaroos, with several park care groups conducting their own grazing studies and hundreds of volunteers participating in kangaroo counts.
Annual surveys for Grassland Earless Dragons were completed across three sites within the Majura and Jerrabomberra Valleys to the east of Canberra. Numbers at all sites were up since last year, with a total of 50 individuals recorded.
Arboreal mammal spotlight surveys were completed in prime habitat in Namadgi National Park. The survey involved using specialised wildlife cameras placed at 40 locations in potential habitat. The wildlife cameras videoed a range of species attracted to bait stations, including the uncommon Eastern Pygmy Possums on Mt Murray. Under the same initiative, a survey was undertaken to determine whether the endangered Smoky Mouse still occurs in the park. There are only two confirmed records of the species in the ACT, both from the 1980s. The Smoky Mouse was not detected.
Annual surveys in Namadgi for Northern Corroboree Frogs were completed in February, though no Corroboree Frogs were heard calling. Less than 50 adult frogs are estimated to remain in the park. The dry conditions during the survey may have resulted in no breeding calls and hence no frogs being heard. Around 200 young captive-bred Northern Corroboree Frogs from Tidbinbilla were released to bogs in Namadgi in November 2013, but the success of releases in bolstering populations will not be known for 2–3 years.
Spotted Tailed Quolls have been persistently recorded in the ACT as roadkills, odd sightings or attacks by dogs in backyards but almost never recorded in a survey. A 2013 survey in the Gudgenby area of Namadgi where most historical records of the species are from, observed no quoll activity.
Fish were surveyed in the Cotter River prior to a large prescribed burn taking place adjacent to the river. Fish have since been resurveyed after the burn. Ongoing monitoring of the Two-spined Blackfish populations in the Cotter River detected successful recruitment. This recruitment is encouraging because Two-spined Blackfish recruitment was low following the drought and consequent floods.
Two fish habitat projects funded by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority were completed.
An assessment of the Casuarina Sands fishway suggested the fishway is not effective, does not allow many fish to pass and requires modification to aid fish passage. Given the difficulty of catching threatened Murray Crayfish and assessing population status, an assessment of the sampling methodology for Murray Crayfish and monitoring in the ACT was conducted. This project recommended improved methods for sampling which were found to be more successful at monitoring this cryptic species.
A project is underway to better understand Montane Crayfish survey methods, distribution and habitat preferences. Montane Crayfish are likely to be affected by climate change as their habitat is at higher altitudes. The project will provide guidance on future management.
Monitoring of two Engineered Log Jams constructed in 2013 to improve fish habitat showed water depth between the log jams had increased substantially from 40 cm pre-construction to 2.7 m post-construction. Fish sampling found the log jams to be a hotspot for juvenile cod, with large numbers of juvenile Murray Cod caught and a juvenile Trout Cod, which is an endangered species.
A survey for the endangered Trout Cod took place in the prohibited angling area of the Gigerline Gorge. For the first time adult Trout Cod were found in the gorge; this finding supports the presence of the prohibited angling zone and the ongoing conservation of Trout Cod.
In 2013, with assistance from the Parks and Conservation Service, artificial fish habitats, dubbed ‘Cod caves’ were trialled in the Molonglo River to try and improve fish habitat. Fish are now inhabiting the caves.
Stocking of urban lakes with native fish species and monitoring of the recreational fishery at Lake Ginninderra, Yerrabi Pond and Googong Reservoir continued.
The annual assessment of the natural assets in the TAMS Bushfire Operational Plan was completed. Advice focused on ensuring fuel management activities including prescribed burns, slashing and grazing are consistent with biodiversity conservation objectives or, to prescribe appropriate mitigation measures to minimise potentially unfavourable environmental outcomes.
Ecological information for Version 3 of the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan, including development of five-year regional fire plans, was completed.
Over 10% of the TAMS prescribed burns were monitored for biodiversity impacts including a number of very large rural burns. The Smokers Trail burn in the park exceeded 6000 hectares and incorporated ecological assets with high sensitivity to fire impacts. Planning and operational solutions successfully achieved the protection of biodiversity values in the burn area.
Development of reserve profiles continued for approximately 40 reserves under the Canberra Nature Park Plan of Management in close coordination with the preparation of reserve operational plans by TAMS.
Preparation of an ACT Sphagnum Bogs and Fens Draft Management Plan commenced. The plan will provide a management framework for management actions and the monitoring of bogs, including adaptive management for climate change, in the ACT Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens ecological community, including the Ginini Flat Ramsar Wetlands.
Approximately 250 separate pieces of advice were provided on how to best protect wildlife within planning and development decisions. This advice ranged from strategic planning processes such as the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment to site-specific developments such as sewer vent proposals within nature parks.
Review of impact assessment documentation mostly related to proposed residential developments, major infrastructure projects or development proposals within reserve areas to ensure any plants, animals, communities and biological processes that may be affected by a proposed development were comprehensively indentified. Wherever possible, advice was provided for the proposal to avoid impact. Where impact is unavoidable, the advice related to mitigating strategies. Where there is residual impact, the advice related to how this may be offset.
Natural Environment and Natural Resource Management
The Natural Environment and NRM Programs teams focus on policy development through local and national processes, program delivery and providing support to ACT advisory committees. In particular, these teams deliver on Strategic Objective 4 – Protecting our environment and promoting contemporary, best practice environmental standards and Strategic Indicator 4 – Develop and implement ACT wide sustainability policies including waste and biodiversity conservation.
Nature Conservation Strategy
Implementation of the Nature Conservation Strategy 2013–2023 commenced. Key areas of the Strategy progressed were: development of baseline information on landscape function; planning and restoration activities for enhancing connectivity; developing a weed alert; and protection of species and ecological communities through planning, monitoring and restoration activities.
- Soil landscape mapping at 1:100,000 is due to be completed by 2015.
- Work commenced on a hydrogeological landscape framework.
- Vegetation mapping was completed for the Kowen Plateau and Murrumbidgee Valley. The mapping of Namadgi National Park at 1:25,000 is underway and is due to be completed by 2015–16.
- Habitat connectivity mapping for wildlife was incorporated into a connectivity GIS layer on ACTMAPi.
- The Minister launched the Atlas of Living Australia ACT and Southern Tablelands Weed Spotter website and weed identification and mapping application on 12 June 2014.
- Planning for a biennial forum on nature reserves commenced.
- A range of research, monitoring and on-ground projects for protection of species and ecological communities continued.
- Biodiversity and climate change funding projects and the Regional Delivery program continued to contribute to on-ground implementation of the Nature Conservation Strategy.
- Nature Conservation Bill
An Exposure Draft of the Nature Conservation Bill was released for consultation over a six week period with submissions accepted until January 2014. The Bill underwent further consultation processes through a ‘roundtable’ in April chaired by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment. The Minister invited conservation stakeholders, rural landholders, members of his expert committees and representatives of the Greens and Liberal parties to the roundtable, which explored issues to further inform preparation of the Nature Conservation Bill.
Environmental offsets policy
Consultation commenced on the ACT environmental offsets policy and delivery framework on 19 June 2014. An environmental offset policy is required to support a possible ‘one-stop-shop’ for environmental approvals under the EPBC Act. Environmental offsets help manage development impacts on threatened species and threatened species habitat by providing ‘environmental compensation’. The proposed ACT environmental offsets policy is based on the Commonwealth Government’s offsets policy with supplementary information to meet the ACT’s unique conditions.
Support for Ministerial councils and advisory committees
The Natural Environment Team coordinates input and provides policy support to the ACT Government membership of the COAG Standing Council on Primary Industries and the Primary Industries Standing Committee.
The team also provides secretariat support for the work of the ACT Flora and Fauna Committee (a statutory committee established under the NC Act and the non-statutory NRM Advisory Committee.
The NRM Team provides secretariat support to the NRM Council. Following a review in 2013, a new Charter was developed that identifies the role, purpose and governance arrangements for the council as an independent and strategic advisory body to provide advice to the Directorate on Australian Government funding of NRM in the ACT. The council’s seven members were appointed by the Director-General in July 2013 and met on four occasions during 2013–14. This new arrangement reflects the ACT Government, through the Directorate, as the regional body and recipient of Australian Government Regional Delivery funding.
Biodiversity and climate change funding projects
The Natural Environment Team progressed work related to biodiversity and climate change adaptation and mitigation that will assist in the implementation of the ACT Nature Conservation Strategy and the climate change policy, AP2.
A 2011–12 Budget initiative, nature conservation and resource management (three year funding of $598,000) enabled the Directorate to develop baseline information on soils across the ACT, which will assist in identifying risks from climate change and potential areas of species refugia in a changing climate. With the impact of weeds likely to become worse with climate change, the section also commissioned the Atlas of Living Australia ACT and Southern Tablelands Weedspotters website and weed mapping application. This community science project will allow anyone to map weeds and weed control efforts in the region, supporting more effective weed control and early warning of new and emerging weeds.
The ACT Woodland Restoration Program to restore box-gum grassy woodlands was established in 2012 with a $2.155 million grant over six years through the Australian Government (formerly through the Biodiversity Fund program) and existing funding from the ACT Government ($1 million over four years). In partnership with Greening Australia and the TAMS, the program has improved the condition, extent and connectivity of over 1500 hectares of lowland woodland areas across the ACT and adjacent NSW. In 2013–14, on-ground works were focused on the Majura Valley, Kowen Plateau, and Greater Goorooyarroo region adjacent to the ACT border. Activities included revegetation, weed and feral animal control, training, and community engagement.
The Directorate received $260,001 from the Australian Government for 2013–14 to 2015–16 for the ACT Regional NRM Planning for Climate Change project. The project will improve the ACT region’s capacity to identify climate change mitigation and adaptation opportunities and risks and inform strategic NRM investments in a changing climate. Funding in 2013–14 has been used to fill critical information gaps (hydrogeological landscape framework) and to consolidate relevant spatial data to underpin development of a new spatial NRM planning framework.
ACT Regional Delivery
The ACT Government received funding for 2013–14 to 2017–18 to deliver Australian Government priorities through the ACT Regional Delivery program (formerly ‘Caring for our Country’). Funding totals $5.978 million under two funding streams: Sustainable Environment and Sustainable Agriculture.
The NRM Programs Team collaborated with community implementation partners (the Molonglo, Ginninderra and Southern ACT catchment groups and Greening Australia Capital Region) to deliver the ACT Regional Delivery program. The program has eight projects and the Directorate, as the regional body, is responsible for coordinating across the suite of projects and for monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement.
Three projects delivered on-ground sustainable agriculture outcomes and provided technical support and facilitation services through the Regional Landcare Facilitator.
- The third annual ACT Landcare Singles tree planting event in May 2014 attracted 90 participants who planted more than 1000 native trees to assist in the restoration of the Jerrabomberra Wetlands.
The event introduces single people to Landcare, with most participants having never been to a previous Landcare activity.
- The biennial ACT Landcare Awards in September 2013 recognised and celebrated the achievements of all nominees, the nine winners and five highly commended entrants across ten award categories. All winners in the national award categories automatically represent the ACT at the National Landcare Awards ceremony in Melbourne in September 2014.
- The ACT Rural Grants program offered $150,000 of small grant funding in 2013–14 to support innovative sustainable farming practices to improve soil and pasture health, increase ground cover and prepare
for drought, climate change and climate variability. Funded through the Australian Government
(ACT Regional Delivery), ACT Rural Grants will provide a total of $450,000 until 2018 to assist ACT rural landholders.
Five projects focused on sustainable environment outcomes: increasing the condition, extent and connectivity of Matters of National Environmental Significance, through activities including on-ground revegetation, weed and pest management, erosion control and the protection of box-gum woodlands, native temperate grasslands and threatened species in riparian and other areas.
The Aboriginal NRM Facilitator project implemented by the Directorate helps build awareness and capacity in Indigenous NRM stakeholders and others in the ACT. A major highlight was the production of Ngunnawal Plant Use, a field-guide that documents Ngunnawal use of 69 native plants and fungi of this region for food, medicine and other purposes. The book is intended to support greater use of Aboriginal knowledge in natural resource management. The book was produced by the ACT Government in partnership with the United Ngunnawal Elders Council and the broader Ngunnawal community, Greening Australia, and ACT Government Indigenous staff, with funding provided by the Australian Government.
- a Reconciliation Tree Planting event in May, which attracted more than 100 people
- an Aboriginal Heritage workshop to support Landcarers, Parkcarers, rural landholders and ACT Government staff understand Aboriginal heritage and cultural landscapes values in the ACT
- a Cultural Day with Aboriginal sporting groups on Aboriginal values and heritage at Gubur Dhaura ochre ground
- a pilot project delivered in partnership with Greening Australia to support greater natural resource management knowledge amongst Aboriginal inmates in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.
ACT Environment Grants
The annual environment grants, where community groups are supported through grants and provision of equipment and training, were advertised with grants to be announced in early 2014–15.
The 2013–14 ACT Environment Grants provided $166,412 for 14 projects across the ACT. This program again invested in ‘on-ground’ projects.
Greening Australia Capital Region
World’s first translocation of the endangered Ginninderra Peppercress.
Friends of the Grasslands
To restore ecologically endangered grassy woodlands and native grasslands.
Molonglo Catchment Group
To revegetate areas following woody weed removal, create habitat for native species and prevent erosion on slopes.
Greening Australia Capital Region
To establish local ground cover species and provide habitat linkages for flora and fauna movements.
Ginninderra Catchment Group
For aquatic and bank revegetation around selected riparian zones, and urban waterways.
Southern ACT Catchment Group
Weed control assistance for Paddy’s River Tharwa Region rural lessees.
Further information may be obtained from:
Executive Director, Sustainability and Climate Change
Telephone: 02 6207 5589
Output 6: Environment protection and water regulation
The Environment Protection and Water Regulation Branch delivers on Strategic Objective 4 – Protecting our environment and promoting contemporary, best practice environmental standards, Strategic Objective 6 – Achieve and maintain effective regulatory systems and Strategic Objective 3 – Securing sustainable water resources. It also delivers on Strategic Indicator 6 – Continuous Review of regulatory policies, procedures and systems and ensuring that environment protection, heritage, nature conservation and construction activities are properly co-ordinated and effective in its application.
The branch is responsible for administration, regulation and enforcement of ACT and applicable national laws related to water resource management and environment protection. The Director of Environment Protection and Water Regulation holds the statutory positions of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the Clinical Waste Controller. The Senior Manager of Environment Protection and Water Regulation holds the statutory position of Delegate of Lakes.
The EPA Annual Report is an annexed report to this annual report.
Legislation and policies
The branch recently completed a review of the Environment Protection Act. The review identified the need for amendments to the legislation for it to remain effective and contemporary in the face of community growth, societal attitudes, environmental practices and with the changes that have occurred to environmental science and technology.
The Directorate completed updates of a number of other guidelines, policies and controls including:
- EPA Petroleum Storage Guidelines following review and industry consultation taking into account the knowledge and experience gained in the authorisation of service stations
- the Contaminated Sites Environment Protection Policy to incorporate reference to the recently revised Assessment of Site Contamination National Environment Protection Measure
- the EPA policy on Termination of Environment Protection Agreement to ensure a consistent approach and to meet the objects of the legislation.
The branch also developed a number of new policies and guidelines including:
- development of draft Separation Distance Guidelines for public consultation to provide guidance on assessing impacts from activities which have the potential to cause environmental harm and ensure consideration of impacts at the earliest planning stages
- policy on Institutional Controls for Site Management Plans for contaminated sites to ensure site management plans are managed and enforceable
- an EPA Field Officers Handbook to assist officers in consistently applying and enforcing legislation administer by the EPA
- in consultation with industry, EPA Noise Management Plan Guidelines to ensure a consistent approach in development of noise management plans for activities which have the potential to cause environmental harm
- EPA Bore Decommissioning Policy to clarify the policy and procedures for decommissioning bores that do not have a licence under the Water Resources Act but have the capability to take water.
The Directorate implemented the EPA’s risk based assessment procedure for review periods for environmental authorisations including updates to EPA databases for process notifications and reporting. In addition, the Directorate implemented a process to provide all Environmental Protection Authorisations and Environmental Protection Agreements on the Directorate’s website, including geographic search functionality. The Directorate has also commissioned a pilot study into the noise zone standards in the Environment Protection Regulation to ensure they remain relevant and in line with current planning and community expectations.
The Directorate has implemented a review program of all environment protection policies made under the Environment Protection Act 1997 (the Act). These policies help explain and apply provisions of the Act and regulations. The review of these policies, which includes consultation with the community, industry and relevant representative organisations, will ensure the ACT continues to have policies that are up-to-date and reflect community expectations. The review of the Air Environment Protection Policy and Waste Water Reuse Environment Protection Policy was ongoing in 2013–14.
During 2013–14, Environment Protection undertook activities to reduce adverse impacts on human health and the environment including:
- ongoing monitoring and regulation of the former Energy Services Invironmental site in Mitchell
- continued monitoring of the historic petrol plume located in the City area
- review and endorsement of contaminated sites assessment and audit reports for former service station sites and for sites in Kingston Foreshore and the Molonglo Valley as required by the conditions of development approval
- monitoring of contamination issues at current and former service stations
- policy advice on wood heater programs and initiatives including compliance and enforcement
- authorisation and compliance monitoring of significant development and infrastructure projects including:
- Gungahlin and Molonglo land developments including the North Weston Pond
- construction of the Majura Parkway
- the Kingston Foreshore redevelopment
- education of developers and builders on responsibilities during construction works and controls associated with sediment and erosion controls on development sites
- assisting government agencies, business and the community in managing contaminated site assessment, remediation and audits including for property redevelopments
- monitoring ACT lakes for algal conditions, responding to pollution incidents and providing technical advice to ACT Health Protection Services on recreational suitability of the lakes and rivers
- issuing approvals for development proposals associated with the ACT’s lakes as Delegate for Lakes under the Lakes Act 1976
- reviewing and updating residential, business and industry information sheets
- programming industry mail-outs of the following Environment Protection information sheets:
- ‘Mobile Carpet Cleaners’ to all businesses associated with carpet cleaning
- ‘Mobile Pet Grooming’ to all businesses associated with pet grooming
- ‘Recreational fishing in the ACT’ to all fishing shops and fishing clubs
- ‘Auto Wreckers and Dismantlers’ to all businesses associated with the dismantling of vehicles (new information sheet)
- ‘Your guide to using wood heaters’ to all firewood merchants
- ‘Burn right tonight’ brochures to wood heater shops.
- commenced a review of ACT Noise Zone Standards in local, group and town centres
- implementation of larger basin sizing in the Molonglo development following a review of sediment basin sizing.
Environment Protection protects the natural and built environment through different mechanisms including education campaigns, regulatory actions and enforcement. A number of education campaigns were implemented, including the ‘Don’t burn tonight’ and ‘Burn right tonight’ campaigns to ensure members of the community are made aware of measures that can contribute to better environmental quality.
The EPA entered into a cross-border protocol with the NSW Environment Protection Agency. The protocol formalises the working relationships between environment protection officers and will facilitate regional collaborative work between NSW and ACT EPAs, improve service delivery and response to environmental incidents, strengthen environmental enforcement, and facilitate resources sharing. An initiative of the protocol is the commencement of the Cross-Border Illegal Waste Dumping Project. The project will implement a coordinated set of actions to prevent, detect and clean-up illegal dumping in the NSW/ACT border region. Twelve ACT and NSW EPA officers were authorised as cross border officers to improve response to environmental incidents, strengthen environmental enforcement and enable cross-border officers to act across borders in appropriate circumstances.
Environment Protection participates in the development, review and implementation of the National Environment Protection Measures (NEPM) under the National Environment Protection Council Act 1994. These measures outline national objectives for protecting and managing particular aspects of the environment including air quality, water, site contamination and hazardous waste. A variation to the Assessment of Site Contamination NEPM was completed in the reporting period which provided further national guidance on the assessment of sites impacted by petroleum products and asbestos.
The ACT’s population has now reached a size that requires a third performance monitoring station under the Ambient Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure. The Directorate worked with ACT Health to progress a successful budget bid for the 2012–13 financial year. The Health Directorate consulted within Government and, based on a preliminary analysis of site requirements/constraints, identified a site in the central Belconnen area. The monitoring station became operational in March 2014.
The EPA is responsible for the production of a calendar year Air Quality Report to be released by 30 June the following year. The 2013 report shows the major impact on Canberra’s air quality, as in previous years, came from the accumulation of combustion particles from wood heaters in cold, highly stable air. All measured parameters are below the National Environment Protection Ambient Air Quality Measure standards, with the exception of particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) which is directly affected by wood heater emissions.
Environment Protection continued to address wood heater emissions through public education campaigns, enforcement activities under the environment protection legislation, and continued support of the ActewAGL funded Wood Heater Replacement Program. To raise community awareness, Environment Protection ran the ‘Burn right tonight’ campaign to make people aware that wood smoke is the largest source of pollution in Canberra and can be reduced by correct wood heater operation. The campaign was publicised though print and cinema advertising.
The EPA supports the ongoing operation of the Wood Heater Replacement Program which, since 2001, has seen over 1050 wood heaters removed from service and replaced with cleaner alternative heating sources, resulting in an improvement in our air quality.
Environment Protection is also working with the Australian Government and other jurisdictions at a national level to progress actions to improve air quality as a part of the National Plan for Clean Air. In late April 2013, the then Standing Council on Environment and Water agreed to release a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement for reducing emissions from wood heaters. On 29 April 2014 Environment Ministers requested finalisation by September 2014 of Decision Regulation Impact Statements on potential emission control options for both ‘non-road spark ignition engines’ (marine engines and garden equipment) and wood heaters.
Environment Protection played a key role in the designation of the Kingston Harbour as a lake under the Lakes Act 1976. Environment Protection collaborated with LDA, TAMS and the ACT Government Solicitor to establish a licensing system for commercial boat operators to use Kingston Harbour. The commercial boat licences are consistent with the work that Environment Protection is undertaking in participating in a COAG initiative and introduction of the Commonwealth Government’s Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012.
The ACT Water Resources Act 2007 sets the framework for the administration and regulation of the ACT’s water resources. It is also a platform for the migration of water resource administration to a National Water Initiative compliant management regime. Water Regulation also managed the ACT’s participation in the Commonwealth-sponsored Water Resource Compliance and Enforcement project. This project supported two full-time positions in the unit to improve regulatory capacity by developing a wider range of enforcement mechanisms and employing a consistent risk process for enforcement assessment.
Water Regulation continued its routine regulatory activities of monitoring compliance with the ACT’s environmental flow requirements, setting abstraction limits on the ACT’s water resources and reviewing or issuing licences and environmental authorisations to people undertaking activities that have the potential to cause environmental harm to the aquatic environment (i.e. sewage treatment plants).
The administration of water resource assets and collection of data by the unit provides the basis for the ACT to provide information to national projects such as the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Water Account and comply with facets of Commonwealth water legislation.
The Directorate continues to support the COAG agenda through various forums. On 13 December 2013, COAG replaced its 22 Standing Councils, Select Councils and governance with a set of eight Councils.
Key projects such as the National Plan for Clean Air which aims to improve air quality and reforms to the management framework for Agricultural Chemicals and Veterinary Medicines, are now being progressed by relevant Ministers.
Through the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure, the Directorate supported the implementation of the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety and continued to work with Australian Government agencies in finalising the implementation in the ACT.
The Directorate continued its commitment to the National Framework for Compliance and Enforcement Systems for Water Resource Management by implementing legislative reform for national harmonisation of water resource laws with amendments to the Water Resources Act 2007 including the development of catchment-wide risk based compliance framework.
Further information may be obtained from:
Director,Environment Protection and Water Regulation
Telephone: 02 6207 2230
Strategic human services
During 2013–14, Strategic Human Services managed the formal relationship with ACT Shared Services and Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate (CMTD) in terms of human resources and delivered a number of programs in partnership with Shared Services and CMTD. Work in support of the development and refinement of the Directorate’s high level organisation structure and consequential effects was a priority for the organisation over the year. Obligations arising from the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 have been the subject of significant focus for the team. The arrangement and delivery of comprehensive training and work involving standard operating procedures and safe work methods remained a key priority. For more information, please see Section E – Human Resources Reporting.
The Communications Section liaises with the media, prepares internal and external publications, manages the website and intranet, coordinates the social media platforms, provides public relations advice and support to line areas, and coordinates advertising and marketing. The team also provides communications support to the Minister’s office.
The section supported community engagement activities by the planning, policy and programs areas, particularly with consultation on master plans, transport initiatives, draft variations to the Territory Plan and major policy initiatives such as the ACT Water Strategy. Fact sheets, brochures, posters, reports, strategies and other documents were prepared for online and/or print publication. Major consultations included the City Plan, master plans for Weston and Mawson group centres and Woden town centre, and Territory Plan variations to implement master plans. The section coordinated several media and stakeholder events, including renewable energy announcements, climate change initiatives and launches of projects such as the joint Australian Government/ACT Government Basin Priority Project to improve water quality.
The Directorate continued to inform the public of activities and consultations through the website and other electronic media. The monthly e-newsletter, the Zone, has 1500 subscribers from industry, community, the general public and government. The Facebook and Twitter accounts, which are updated daily, have over 1100 followers each. Over 160 media releases were prepared during the year.
The Directorate continued work on making its website content accessible under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 A level. The HTML/CSS side of the Environment website was 98.4% accessible at the end of the year and an audit of all inaccessible PDF documents was under way. New documents are designed to be accessible through PDF and HTML formats. Accessibility also
improved with the implementation of the upgraded version of the whole-of-government search function.
The team contributed to the whole-of-government Coordinated Communications Network, which shares media monitoring, information, strategies and issues across government directorates.
The section is responsible for providing advice to the Executive, line area managers and external clients on the operational requirements of the Directorate’s legislation, emerging issues in relation to the implementation of legislation or conflicts between legislative proposals.
It assists in the development, coordination and implementation of the Government’s legislation program as it relates to the role of the Directorate. It manages the Planning, Building and Environment Legislation Amendment Bill process, a periodic, omnibus bill for making minor changes to multiple Acts and Regulations within the Directorate portfolio. The section manages the development of Regulations and other subordinate legislation as required by the Executive. The section also assists in the review of significant draft instruments on appointments, delegations and other matters.
The section monitors the Directorate’s existing legislation to ensure it remains relevant and contemporary and facilitates the achievement of Government policy objectives.
The role of the section is also to assist in the legislative implementation of Government policy while generally not directly involved in policy development. The section does not provide legal advice, but manages the referral of questions of legal interpretation to the ACT Government Solicitor. This service includes the assessment of questions to determine whether legal advice is warranted and the review of questions to ensure that they are clear and consistent with the standard operating procedure for obtaining legal advice. The section maintains a legal advice register.
During the year the section provided assistance to a range of specific legislative projects consistent with the principles set down by the Scrutiny of Bills and Subordinate Legislation Committee.
Finance and operational support
The Finance and Operational Support Section is responsible for the Directorate’s financial and budgetary activities, as well as delivering key operational activities that support the Directorate’s core business, including facilities management, fleet management, records management compliance, ICT system support and managing responses to public access requests including Freedom of Information.
The section coordinates the Directorate’s corporate interface with the CMTD and manages the budget development process annually. It facilitates financial reporting in accordance with Directorate and legal obligations, including the preparation and finalisation of annual accounts.
Through this team the Directorate delivers on its commitment to manage records in compliance with the Territory Records Act 2002¸while seeking more innovative and cost effective ways to manage the services the Directorate delivers to the community.
The Governance Team undertakes a range of activities to ensure that the Directorate meets its various government accountabilities. Key responsibilities include managing and directly reporting to the Director-General for the Directorate’s internal audit program and processes. The team also develops, manages and oversights all aspects of the Directorate’s Corporate, Risk Management, Fraud and Corruption Prevention and Business Continuity plans and other strategic plans and governance frameworks, including training and other awareness raising activities.
The ICT Support Team played an active role in finalising the Directorate’s ICT Strategic Plan and establishing an internal Information Management ICT Committee to oversee the implementation and reporting on the Strategic Plan. Significant initiatives during the year included the further analysis and review of the existing eDevelopment system with the objective of refurbishing and streamlining it, implementing an automated document upload system in the existing version of eDevelopment in response to industry calls for a more efficient front end service for clients. The development of the plan for the upgrading of the Directorate’s records management System, Objective, continued with the intention of completing the project by December 2014. The Directorate actively participated on a number of cross-Government Committees and forums aimed at continuously improving the range of digital services and transactions available to the community.
Facilities management continued to focus on the efficient use and functioning of the properties used by the Directorate, including further improvements to lighting controls. These initiatives enhanced the Directorate’s already significant energy savings. Work also continued on options for the relocation of the Conservation Planning and Research Team from Crace to an alternative site, possibly in Mitchell. This move is expected to be finalised by the end of 2014.
Mr John Meyer
Executive Director, Regulation and Services
Telephone: 02 6207 2644