Performance Analysis

The following description of agency performance is arranged by output class, with the main strategic objectives and strategic indicators noted. Many of the Directorate’s activities contribute to more than one strategic objective.

The Directorate’s outputs reflect the revised organisational structure following administrative arrangements issued in December 2014.

Outputs:

  1. Environment
  2. SustOutputs: Environment Sustainability and Climate Change Strategic Planning Planning Delivery Office of the Surveyor-General and Land Information Government and Executive Coordination Finance and Operations ainability and Climate Change
  3. Strategic Planning
  4. Planning Delivery
  5. Office of the Surveyor-General and Land Information
  6. Government and Executive Coordination
  7. Finance and Operations

Environment Division

The work of the Environment Division is primarily linked to:

  • Strategic Objective 3: Securing sustainable water resources
    • Strategic Indicator 3.1:
      Work with the community on implementing the Murray–Darling Basin Plan
    • Strategic Indicator 3.2:
      Maintaining a 25 per cent reduction in drinking water per capita from 2004 average consumption
    • Strategic Indicator 3.3:
      Deliver on the ACT Basin Priority project against timeline agreed with the Commonwealth.
  • Strategic Objective 4: Protecting our environment and promoting contemporary, best practice environmental standards.
    • Strategic Indicator 4:
      Develop and implement ACT wide sustainability policies including waste and biodiversity conservation

Following the introduction of revised ACT Goverment administrative arrangements in December 2014, the Environment Protection Authority moved to Access Canberra, part of CMTEDD. This resulted in a significant operational change, with the remaining sections now focusing on policy development.

The Division comprises the following sections:

  • Catchment Management and Water Policy
  • Conservation Research
  • Nature Conservation Policy
  • Environment Protection Policy

Catchment Management and Water Policy

The Environment and Planning Directorate has contributed significantly to the Government’s focus on improving the Territory’s water management. Notable achievements included the following.

ACT Water Strategy

The Government launched the ACT Water Strategy: Striking the Balance 2014–44 in August 2014. The strategy provides strong foundations for ongoing water management in the ACT, guiding the management of the Territory and region’s catchments and water supply over the next 30 years.

The implementation of the ACT Water Strategy is underpinned by five yearly implementation plans and is monitored by the Directors-General Water Group.

Improved water sensitive urban design in the ACT

In August 2014 the ACT Government released the Water Sensitive Urban Design Review Report, which details the findings of a comprehensive industry and community review into the current 40% water use reduction target in new developments and refurbishments/extensions.

The report made 27 recommendations, which have been grouped into eight priority projects. These projects include approaches to expand on the acceptable mandated measures to achieve water sensitive urban design targets and provide maximum flexibility to developers at lower development costs. They also consider whole-of-life costings and how to fund ongoing maintenance costs.

Developing more diverse water supply options for multiple benefits

On 10 April 2015, Minister Corbell opened the Inner North Reticulation Network, which will provide up to 500 megalitres of stormwater each year for fit-for-purpose irrigation. The stormwater is captured in the newly constructed wetlands at Dickson, Lyneham and Flemington Ponds. It provides a range of aquatic habitat and community recreational benefits before being stored in an aquifer for subsequent use in the hot and dry summer months.

Reducing consumption of mains water

In 2004, the ACT Government set a number of water targets, including reducing per capita consumption of mains water by 25% by 2023 when compared to 2004 average consumption levels. This target has been achieved and remains in the new ACT Water Strategy: Striking the Balance 2014–44. To meet this target reduction, the ACT Government has introduced a number of measures including:

  • the Territory Plan’s requirements that new developments and redevelopments meet a 40% mains use reduction target when compared to similar development types pre-2003
  • permanent water conservation measures, a statutory scheme under the Utilities Act 2000; the measures place restrictions on water use domestically and commercially such as restricting watering of lawns and gardens to morning and evening hours, restricting hosing of hard surfaces including driveways and windows and introducing compulsory use of trigger hoses for car washing
  • reformation of the ACT Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards with the introduction of the ACT Water Labelling and Standards Act 2015, which enables water savings through the use of water efficiency products.
Strengthening governance of cross-border water catchment management for the ACT and region

On 25 February 2015, Minster Corbell launched the ACT and Region Catchment Management Coordination Group. The group includes executive-level representation from ACT Government and NSW Government agencies responsible for catchment management, general managers of the surrounding NSW local governments, Icon Water, the National Capital Authority and a community representative.

While the group is recognised in legislation, including the Water Act, its role is primarily for coordination, collaboration and advice to Government and the represented stakeholders.

Murray–Darling Basin ACT Priority Project

The ACT Basin Priority Project, which commenced in February 2014, will see up to $85 million of Australian Government and $8.5 million of ACT Government funding for improved water quality. Funding is subject to Australian Government approval of a supplementary business case that will detail the best form of water quality infrastructure that could be strategically placed within six priority sub-catchments to improve water quality within the ACT and further downstream in the Murrumbidgee River and Murray–Darling Basin.

The project has two distinct phases. Phase one is an integrated water quality monitoring program collecting data and supporting the identification of infrastructure options within the priority catchments—Yarralumla Creek, Lake Tuggeranong, Upper and Lower Molongolo, Fyshwick and West Belconnen. This phase will include community consultation on various options. Phase two will involve the design and construction of infrastructure interventions to deliver the most cost-effective water quality improvements, based on the analysis of the data collected from phase one. The ACT Government met all milestones set out in the project schedule for completion by 30 June 2015 and is on track to complete the remaining milestones required to achieve Australian Government approval of funding for the design and construction of water quality infrastructure.

Promoting community involvement in ACT water management

Waterwatch is an environmental education and awareness program that encourages and supports community volunteers to take responsibility for improving the quality of water in their catchment. This community engagement initiative is managed by EPD with funding from the ACT Government and ICON Water.

Minister Corbell released the ACT and Region Waterwatch 2013–14 Report Card—Catchment Health Indicator Program (CHIP) in February 2015. CHIP is a catchment health report card using data collected from 63 river reaches across the region; 160 local volunteers collected the data, taking 1184 water samples and 78 bug surveys from 184 separate sites. CHIP operates in the ACT and NSW Upper Murrumbidgee catchments from above Cooma to Burrinjuck Dam near Yass.

As part of its commitment to the implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, the ACT is developing the ACT Water Resource Plan for submission to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority. The development of the plan involves community engagement with key stakeholders, which occurred in 2014–15 and will again occur during 2015–16. Engagement and involvement with Indigenous people in the ACT has led to a greater understanding of the water values and uses of the ACT Indigenous people.

Conservation Research

The Conservation Research Unit provides science-based information for environmental conservation, policy, planning and management. The unit includes ecologists who provide field-based research and information to: inform the management of ACT threatened species and communities and threats to biodiversity; assist ecological restoration; and provide baseline information and conservation advice. The unit also provides input to urban fish stocking and management. Assisted by other government agencies and the ACT community, the unit delivers a range of projects as described below.

Fish stocking

65,000 Murray Cod were stocked into Canberra’s lakes in 2014–15. Stocking of Lake Burley Griffin and Lake Ginninderra was undertaken in partnership with the Canberra Fishermens Club and National Capital Authority. Two of the stocked lakes were also monitored for fish to determine the ongoing success of the investment in stocking. The ACT Government Stocking Plan for 2015–2020 was completed.

Aquatic survey and monitoring

Monitoring of the Murrumbidgee fish community and Cotter Blackfish (including re-survey after prescribed burns) were completed, as were surveys of the Murray Crayfish in the Murrumbidgee River and a smaller survey in montane streams. Results from the Murrumbidgee monitoring were encouraging, with a significant increase in Murray Cod and a higher abundance of native fish compared to pest species at several sites. The effectiveness of habitat rehabilitation projects was monitored, with the engineered log jams near Tharwa and the Molonglo Cod Caves showing habitat improvement, such as a deepening of the channel from 0.4 metre to 3 metres at Tharwa, and increased native fish abundance. The Montane Spiny Crayfish project was completed providing recommendations about the most appropriate trapping methods for surveying Montane Spiny Crayfish and mapping distribution from surveyed and historic collections. The results of this project will be published online during 2015–16.

Threatened plant monitoring

Monitoring of populations and site management was completed for the Tarengo Leek Orchid, Canberra Spider Orchid, Button Wrinklewort, Small Purple Pea, Tuggeranong Lignum and Ginninderra Peppercress. This information was used to direct ongoing management to assist in the conservation of these species. Brindabella Midge Orchid annual monitoring surveys for 2014–15 found 99 individuals the second highest number, after the 2013–14 season, since monitoring began.

Threatened plant conservation actions

Seed was collected from plants in a recently discovered population of Ginninderra Peppercress and banked at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG). Cuttings collected from all wild and planted Tuggeranong Lignum will be grown and maintained at the ANBG to insure against erosion of genetic diversity through the death of wild plants.

Information collected by an honours student, enlisted to undertake research into the biology and reproductive ecology of the Canberra Spider Orchid, will help direct future replanting of this species.

The Directorate and ANBG conducted seed collection from wild populations of Murrumbidgee Bossiaea and the Directorate collaborated with the Native Plant Society to conduct seed germination experiments.

Lowland Native Grassland Conservation Strategy (Action Plan 28) review

A review of this action plan commenced in 2015, with a draft strategy to be reviewed by the Scientific Committee in September 2015. Two component action plans—for the Ginninderra Peppercress and Button Wrinklewort—were circulated to the committee.

Vegetation mapping

High resolution vegetation mapping in the ACT has been completed over an area of 73,000 hectares. This mapping informs development options and park management activities such as fuel reduction burns. Mapping of Namadgi National Park will be completed by June 2016.

Grassy ecosystem condition monitoring

This project, which has been running since 2009, collects information on the floristic condition of a selection of 16 sites (including 13 nature reserves), focusing on the endangered community of natural temperate grassland and grassy woodland communities. The information is being used to improve site management and inform other government initiatives such as the State of the Environment Report.

Prescribed Burn Monitoring Program and review of the TAMS Bushfire Operations Plan (BOP)

The 2014–15 annual TAMS BOP ecological assessment was completed and advice provided on prescribed burn works plans. One year post-burn monitoring was completed of 44 floristic and habitat structure plots in Canberra Nature Park. An initial woodland bird survey was conducted as a subset of these fire monitoring plots. The coordinated field investigation of ecological impacts of the Cotter Hut prescribed burn and breakout fire included preparation of a report, Post Fire Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan: Cotter Hut Burn, April 2015.

Conservation Effectiveness Monitoring Program (CEMP)

The first two monitoring plans for the eight ACT ecosystems identified in the TAMS Parks and Conservation Service CEMP program—the Aquatic and Riparian Ecosystems Monitoring Plan and Lowland Native Grassland Ecosystem Monitoring Plan—were prepared.

Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary

Quarterly monitoring by Fenner School ANU of the reintroduced Eastern Bettong population at Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary showed the population has grown from the 32 founders introduced in 2010–11 to more than 200. The breeding performance and body condition exceeded expectations based on Tasmanian data. The Tidbinbilla population has also grown but not as quickly, with population numbers currently being 48.

Since the bettongs were introduced to the sanctuary, New Holland Mice and Bush-stone Curlews have also been reintroduced. Initial monitoring shows animals are surviving in the sanctuary. Work has also commenced on a possible release of the Chestnut Mouse, Yellow-footed Antechinus and the Eastern Quoll in the next two years.

Fauna projects

Annual monitoring of endangered Grassland Earless Dragons indicated the species is recovering from the 2002–2008 drought. Endangered Northern Corroboree Frogs were again successfully bred at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve facility (a captive breeding program jointly undertaken by the unit and TAMS). Field monitoring in February 2015 showed some of the captive-bred frogs released to the wild in 2011 have survived to breeding age. A survey for the endangered Smoky Mouse in Namadgi National Park (NNP), where they have not been seen since the 1980s, did not detect any animals, suggesting this elusive species may no longer occur in the ACT. An environmental risk assessment was undertaken for introducing 191 ‘new’ native reptile species to the ACT, as proposed under licensing reforms for reptile keepers. Monitoring of the nationally threatened Grey-headed Flying Foxes at Commonwealth Park showed the 2000 bats present in summer all left the ACT before winter. A spotlight survey for arboreal mammals, conducted in NNP and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in autumn 2014, detected a range of arboreal mammals and a Powerful Owl, showing recovery after the 2003 wildfires.

Kangaroo grazing impact research

This research is evaluating ecological impacts of grazing by Eastern Grey Kangaroos in lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands. Kangaroo population size and density (kangaroos/hectare) was estimated at 16 sites. Kangaroo off-take (the amount of grassland vegetation removed per hectare) was measured across six reserves and within each of 62 biodiversity monitoring plots (BMPs) of one hectare each, distributed according to grassland association (e.g. Themeda) and kangaroo density.

Measurements within the BMPs include occupancy of small reptile species under 30 tiles, occupancy of small mammals in 30 tracking tunnels, herbage mass and ground cover. The floristic value of the
62 locations will be included in an analysis encompassing a large number of ecological parameters.

A recent research paper, accepted for publication in Austral Ecology, is based on a subset of these reptile data and recommends that to conserve the threatened Striped Legless Lizard, kangaroos need to be maintained in reserves at a density less than 1.2 kangaroos per hectare of grassland. This and other research outcomes are being used to inform kangaroo management.

Kangaroo Fertility Control Research—Development of a dart delivery method and field trials
of GonaConTM

This project is researching the use of a fertility control vaccine, GonaConTM, for Eastern Grey Kangaroos. This includes investigating a dart delivery method and undertaking field trials of the vaccine (hand injected and dart delivered) in several small wild kangaroo populations in Canberra. Initial testing has shown the viscous vaccine can be expelled from a dart. Testing will continue to develop a system of marking kangaroos as they are vaccinated and to assess the humaneness and feasibility of dart delivery. In preparation for the dart delivery field trials, wild kangaroos have been fitted with identification collars.

Kangaroo Fertility Control Research—Monitoring of kangaroos hand injected with GonaConTM in 2008

Annual monitoring of kangaroos treated with hand injected GonaConTM in 2008 was conducted. In the sixth breeding season since treatment, only 10% of the vaccinated kangaroos produced a young, compared to 83% of the kangaroos administered with the control treatment. Many of the kangaroos were recaptured this year to renew their identification collars.

Kangaroo movement study—response to development at Lawson South

Eastern Grey Kangaroos at the new suburb of Lawson have been fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking collars to monitor their movements in response to the gradual development of their habitat. All collared kangaroos have remained at the site despite the development work, but have altered their home ranges to avoid active construction areas. Some collared kangaroos made long excursions off site, but returned to Lawson. There are currently 10 kangaroos wearing GPS collars at the site.

Nature Conservation Policy

The Nature Conservation Policy Unit focuses on policy development through local and national processes, program delivery and providing support to ACT advisory committees.

Nature Conservation Act

The review and amendment of the Nature Conservation Act 1980 was finalised through the passing of the Nature Conservation Act 2014 in November 2014 and its commencement in June 2015. Progress in implementation of the Act has included training for over 100 Conservation Officers, establishment of a new Scientific Committee, replacing the Flora and Fauna Committee, and signage for nature reserves.

The Nature Conservation Strategy 2013–2023

The Nature Conservation Strategy 2013–2023 continued to guide nature conservation in the ACT and region. Substantial progress was made in enhancing habitat connectivity through fine-scale planning, tree planting and landscape restoration, strengthening community engagement including through forums and development of monitoring apps, improving baseline information for vegetation, soils and fauna, delivering actions for recovery of threatened species and addressing threats such as weeds and pests.

The ACT Environmental Offsets Policy

The policy formally commenced on 2 April 2015 through the Planning and Development (Bilateral Agreement) Amendment Act 2014. Implementation of the policy involved the release of an Environmental Offsets Policy, Environmental Offsets Delivery Framework and Environmental Offsets Calculator. Familiarisation and training sessions on the calculator were held for key stakeholders, consultants and government staff. The calculator is supported by a user manual and assessment methodology.

ACT Weeds Strategy

A mid-term review of the ACT Weeds Strategy 2009–2019, released in April 2015, found significant improvements in weed risk assessment and delivery and reporting of government weed control operations. The capacity to detect, contain and eradicate new weed incursions has been enhanced, with additional recording of incursions by the community through a weed spotter website. Control of Weeds of National Significance and highly invasive grasses has increased using innovative methods such as remote-controlled helicopters for herbicide application. The improvements in weed management and policy implementation, including the review process, have been achieved collaboratively between Parks and Territory Services in TAMS, Nature Conservation Policy in EPD, NSW local councils and rural landholder and community groups.

Rabbit management

The Best Practice Guide for Rabbit Management in the ACT was released in April 2015 to support control efforts by Government and other land managers in accordance with the national Model Code of Practice for the Humane Control of Rabbits. The guide provides information on: the damage rabbits cause to the environment, agriculture and urban areas; rabbit control methods and associated risks; the principles of best practice management; and examples of where these have been successfully applied in the ACT. The guide was developed by Natural Environment in EPD with input from Rural Services and Natural Resource Protection in TAMS and Conservation Research in EPD.

Threatened species

A revised Action Plan for the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby was finalised in May 2015 and the Scarlet Robin was declared vulnerable in the ACT in May 2015.

Natural Resource Management

ACT Regional Natural Resource Management (NRM), which is one of 56 Regional NRM bodies across Australia, successfully renegotiated the transition of the Caring for our Country Program to the new National Landcare Program (NLP). The NLP Program will maintain funding levels of $3.805 million (2015–18) and fund partnership with community groups, such as catchment groups and Greening Australia, to deliver environmental, sustainable agriculture, and community capacity-building outcomes in the ACT.

The Ngunnawal Plant Use Book, a field guide that introduces Ngunnawal history and natural resource use, was published in late 2014. Developed through a partnership between the United Ngunnawal Elders Council, ACT Government and Greening Australia, the book has been highly successful. Of 4000 printed copies, over 2000 were sold during the year. The book was distributed to every school in the ACT and is being included in the curriculum in some schools. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be reinvested into Aboriginal NRM Programs.

Culture and land management program

A pilot Aboriginal culture and land management program commenced in August 2014 in the Alexander Machonochie Centre. The program engaged up to 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees on topics such as identifying Aboriginal scarred trees, growing native plants, identifying and using bush tucker plants, processing native seed, identifying heritage artefacts and the impacts of feral animals on biodiversity. The program was implemented by the ACT NRM Aboriginal Facilitator in partnership with Greening Australia’s Indigenous Restoration Officer. The program assisted a number of detainees to successfully complete their Conservation and Land Management Certificate II.

Reserve management plans

Work progressed on the review and development of reserve management plans, with priority given to the Canberra Nature Park and Lower Cotter Catchment plans. Initial consultations were held with ParkCare groups on the Canberra Nature Park. The Lower Cotter Catchment Plan will consider: the Lower Cotter Catchment Strategic Management Plan 2007; recommendations made in the Auditor- General’s performance audit into the implementation of the strategic plan in 2015; and a draft Recreation Strategy for the Lower Cotter Catchment.

Environment Protection Policy

This unit is responsible for policy and legislation, including applicable national laws related to water resource regulation and environment protection. The unit provided secretariat support to the Minister for the Environment and associated senior officials participating in the working group and support to the COAG Standing Councils on Transport and Infrastructure and Primary Industries. The Senior Manager of Environment Protection Policy holds the statutory position of Delegate of Lakes.

During 2014–15, the unit undertook activities to reduce adverse impacts on human health and the environment:

  • Completed the review of the Environment Protection Act 1997 and introduced the Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2014, which were passed by the Legislative Assembly and took effect on 12 November 2014. The changes ensure the regulatory framework remains effective and contemporary in the face of growth in the ACT and change that has occurred to the environmental attitudes and practices.
  • Provided policy advice on national and local air quality initiatives and programs.
  • Issued approvals for development proposals associated with the ACT’s lakes under the Lakes Act 1976, including approval of water ski trails on Lake Ginninderra, commercial boat operators, boat training operators and marine repair businesses.
  • Completed an initial review of the ACT Noise Zone Standards in local, group and town centres.
  • Developed and implemented a policy in consultation with the ACT planning and land authority on institutional controls for ongoing site management plans required for contaminated sites.
  • Developed and released for public consultation draft separation distance guidelines for odour from industrial activities to facilitate strategic planning and provide certainty to business and industry.
Review of policies

Environment Protection Policy continued to implement the review program of all environment protection policies made under the Environment Protection Act 1997. These policies help explain and apply provisions of the Act and regulations. The review, 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 Waste Water Reuse Environment Protection Policy was reviewed in the context of recently released national waste water reuse guidelines.

Review of the following policies was ongoing in 2014–15:

  • Air Environment Protection Policy
  • General Environment Protection Policy
  • Contaminated Sites Environment Protection Policy
  • Outdoor Concerts Environment Protection Policy
National initiatives

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.

Environment Protection Authority

Following administrative changes to the ACTPS in 2015, the Environment Protection Authority moved to Access Canberra. EPA annual reporting is included in CMTEDD’s annual report.

Further information may be obtained from: Ms Annie Lane
Executive Director, Environment and
ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna
Telephone: 02 6207 1923
Email: EPDCorporate@act.gov.au  


Image of two Directorate ecologists sitting on rocks by a stream reviewing samples taken from the water

Sustainability and Climate Change

The ACT is a national leader in addressing climate change, with the Sustainability and Climate Change Division responsible for developing and implementing policy to adapt to current and expected effects of climate change and assisting all sectors—government, non-government, business, community and households—to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation action is being guided by the ACT’s second climate change strategy and action plan (AP2) and includes the Actsmart suite of sustainability programs, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme, Carbon Neutral Government Framework and initiatives to increase renewable energy usage.

At the end of the year, the Division comprised four branches: Energy and Waste Policy; Climate Change; Sustainability and Government; and the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme.

The Division delivered against the following strategic objectives and indicators:

  • Strategic Objective 1: Leading the community towards making Canberra a zero-net carbon emitter
    • Strategic Indicator 1: Identify actions to deliver 40% greenhouse gas emission reductions compared to 1990 levels by 2020
  • Strategic Objective 2: Promoting sustainable, secure and equitable energy supply
    • Strategic Indicator 2.1: Growth in renewable energy generation
    • Strategic Indicator 2.2: Uptake of Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Scheme
  • Strategic Objective 4: Protecting our environment and promoting contemporary, best practice, environmental standards
    • Strategic Indicator 4: Develop and implement ACT wide sustainability policies including waste and biodiversity conservation

Energy markets and renewable energy

Through AP2, the Government set an ambitious but achievable target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. Measures to achieve this include reducing emissions from electricity generation, transport and waste and improving energy efficiency.

To reduce emissions from electricity supply, the ACT Government introduced its 90% renewable energy by 2020 target through the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Renewable Energy Targets) Determination 2013 (No. 1). Around 70% of this target will be achieved by generating electricity from large-scale renewable energy sources. The remaining 30% will be generated by Canberra’s rooftop solar generators, purchases of GreenPower and the ACT share of the national Renewable Energy Target.

The Territory is well on the way to reaching the 90% target. In 2014–15 18.5% of the ACT’s electricity was supplied from renewable sources. However, the Territory has now secured renewable energy supply equal to around 50% of the ACT’s forecast 2020 electricity demand. Almost two-thirds of this will comprise the large-scale renewable energy capacity the Government committed to in the 2012–13 solar auction and the 2014–15 wind auction combined with the ACT’s installed rooftop solar output, with the remainder comprising the ACT’s share of the national Renewable Energy Target and its GreenPower purchases.

The main large-scale renewable energy initiatives to date have been the 40 megawatt (MW) large-scale solar auction in 2012–13, 200 MW large-scale wind auction in 2014–15, and an expression of interest process for next-generation solar capacity, including energy storage, in 2015. In 2014, proposals were called for a 1 MW Community Solar Scheme, an undertaking of the 2012 ACT Labor–Greens Parliamentary Agreement. In 2015, the ACT Government developed a Renewable Energy Investment Development Strategy that brought together initiatives under its past and future auctions with a new agenda to promote local innovations in energy storage. This included a new Renewable Energy Innovation Fund that flowed from the 2014–15 wind auction.

The 2012–13 solar auction resulted in a 20 MW feed-in tariff entitlement being awarded to Fotowotio Renewable Ventures (FRV) for a solar farm located at Royalla, a 13 MW entitlement awarded to Zhenfa Australia for a solar farm located at Mugga Lane, and a 7 MW entitlement awarded to OneSun Capital for a solar farm that is now proposed to be built at Williamsdale. The FRV solar farm opened in September 2014 and the other two farms plan to start generating in 2016. Together, they will generate around 77,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity or around 3% of the Territory’s forecast 2020 electricity demand.

In February 2015, the Minister for the Environment announced the successful proponents in the 200 MW wind auction: the 19.4 MW Coonooer Bridge wind farm being developed by Windlab situated near Bendigo, Victoria; the 100 MW Hornsdale wind farm being developed by Neoen near Port Augusta, South Australia; and the 80.5 MW Ararat wind farm being developed by RES Australia near Ararat, Victoria. The wind farms plan to start generating between early 2016 and mid-2017.

The wind auction process required the successful operators to contribute to local economic opportunities such as research, education, training and operations for the national wind industry. It has delivered low renewable energy prices and will generate around 770,000 MWh (25% of forecast 2020 ACT electricity demand) of renewable electricity each year, enough to supply 106,000 homes. It will save 580 kt CO2-e each year.

In addition to these initiatives, the ACT’s installed rooftop solar capacity (45 MW at the end of 2014–15, up from 27 MW at the end of 2011–12) currently supplies around 56,000 MWh of electricity each year. The Territory has the highest residential take-up of GreenPower (voluntary acquisitions of renewable energy) of any jurisdiction in Australia, with current annual purchases around 56,000 MWh.

Energy efficiency improvement scheme

This ambitious energy savings initiative scheme was implemented under the Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Act 2012. The scheme, which initially runs from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015, requires Tier 1 electricity retailers to achieve a targeted level of energy savings in households and businesses by undertaking ‘eligible activities’. A quarter of these activities must be in low-income ‘priority‘ households. The EEIS is modelled to deliver about a 6.2% reduction on emissions in 2015 and savings of 742 kilotonnes (kt) CO2-e.

During 2014–15 over 244,000 activities took place under the EEIS including installation of energy efficient light globes, standby power controllers and door seals and decommissioning of pre-1996 refrigerators and freezers.

Each activity has an abatement value that is based on deemed GHG emissions. The claimed abatement for all activities from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015 was 159.7 kt CO2-e. There were 34.9 kt CO2-e claimed for priority households, meeting the 25% Priority Household Target. Energy savings under the EEIS reduce the amount of renewables required to meet the ACT’s emissions reduction target and reduce household and business energy bills.

An independent review of the EEIS, completed in September 2014, concluded participating households will save about $1600 over the lifetime of activities they have implemented. The review found high participant satisfaction and significant overall benefits to continuing the EEIS. The review recommended the EEIS be continued until 2020. Legislation to effect this extension was introduced to the Legislative Assembly in June 2015.

For more information, see the Annexed Report on the operation and administration of the Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Act 2012.

Waste emissions and management

The ACT Waste Management Strategy 2011–2025 (the Waste Strategy) set the direction for the management of waste in the ACT with the goal of achieving full resource recovery and a carbon neutral waste sector.

The Directorate is responsible for implementing the Waste Strategy in conjunction with TAMS and continues to implement the Strategy via a suite of measures including the Actsmart programs. These programs, which target ACT businesses, events, schools and the community sector, support the ACT GHG reduction targets by reducing energy use and diverting organic waste from landfill that would otherwise break down in landfill and release GHG.

In 2014–15 the Directorate supported TAMS in a review of the Waste Minimisation Act 2001 as part of the Government’s consideration of a more robust regulatory framework to support the Government achieving its waste policy objectives. The Directorate also supported TAMS in developing a business case for new waste infrastructure. In the 2015–16 Budget the Government committed $2.8 million over two years for a feasibility study to determine how the ACT can facilitate the delivery of expanded resource recovery services and any required investment in infrastructure.

Analysis conducted in 2014–15 indicated that new material recovery facilities, in combination with an energy-from-waste facility, could increase resource recovery in the ACT to around 95% by 2020–21.

Climate change

Greenhouse gas inventory

In September 2014 the Minister for the Environment released the 2011–12 ACT Greenhouse Gas Inventory (the Inventory). The Inventory provides an assessment of both total GHG emissions and the amount of emissions per person in the Territory.

The report, prepared by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission, estimated that the ACT’s total emissions of GHG in 2011–12 were equivalent to 4352 kt CO2-e, including emissions reductions due to land use, land-use change and forestry. This represents a decrease in total GHG emissions of 2.4% from their respective 2010–11 emission levels. Electricity consumption was responsible for 61% of total emissions in 2011–12 followed by transport fuels (24%) and natural gas (9%). Industrial processes and waste activities collectively contributed approximately 5% of total emissions.

Consumption of renewable energy in the ACT increased from 14.2% in 2010–11 to 16.9% in 2011–12. A major contributor to the increase in renewable energy use was the Australian Government’s Renewable Energy Target component, which steadily increased from 3.4% in 2008–09 to 7.3% in 2011–12.  In addition, the ACT’s GreenPower sales were 131 GWh in 2011–12, which represented 4.5% of electricity consumption (up 4% from 2010–11).

As an initial measure to provide a more timely greenhouse gas inventory for the Territory, in March 2015 the Minister for the Environment released an interim greenhouse gas inventory covering 2012–13 and 2013–14. This latest inventory demonstrates that the ACT met its first legislated emissions reduction target of peaking per person emissions by 30 June 2013. At their peak in 2005–06, the ACT emitted 12.72 t CO2-e per person, but this figure dropped to 10.41 t CO2-e per person in 2013–14.

The interim inventory showed a continuing downward trend in the Territory’s overall emissions. Between 2011–12 and 2013–14, ACT emissions fell by 8% to 3995 kt CO2-e. The main reasons were an increase in the proportion of renewable electricity used in the ACT and a fall in the demand for electricity in the ACT.

For previous financial years, the ACT has used an emissions factor produced by the Australian Government to calculate GHG emissions from electricity consumption, which counts the ACT as part of NSW. While this was suitable prior to the ACT’s implementation of its 90 % renewable energy target, the ACT now requires its own electricity emissions factor. The Territory commissioned consultants to calculate electricity emission factors specific to the ACT. These new emissions factors will be used by ACT Government agencies to calculate emissions from electricity commencing from 2014–15.

The full report of the consultants can be found at
www.environment.act.gov.au/cc/acts-greenhouse-gas-emissions/measuring-act-electricity-emissions.  

Implementing AP2 climate change actions

The Directorate continued to implement AP2, which contains 18 actions to address climate change mitigation and adaptation issues in the Territory. Actions specifically addressing GHG emission reductions that are not discussed elsewhere in this section of the Annual Report include the following:

Action 2: Inefficient water heater phase out

The Government considered the outcomes of modelling and analysis undertaken on the phase-out of emissions intensive hot water heaters in June 2014. It was found the ACT’s 90% renewable energy target would mean very limited economic and environmental benefits to phasing out resistive electric water heaters. The carbon contribution of gas in the ACT will progressively increase relative to electricity.

Action 5: Engage the community on climate change matters

The Climate Change Community Engagement Strategy was released in June 2014 and the Directorate continues to implement key aspects of this strategy.

In December 2015 the ACT Government released the first detailed climate change projections for the ACT as part of the Territory’s involvement in the NSW and ACT Regional Climate Projections (NARCliM). The new climate change projections provide an unparalleled level of detail that will inform and drive actions to reduce the ACT’s vulnerability to climate change. The NARCliM project was jointly funded by the ACT and NSW governments and produced by the University of NSW Climate Change Research Centre. This world-leading research provides information down to the nearest 10 kilometres—the finest detail yet of the near future (2030) and far future (2070) climate projections for the region. The data has also been made accessible to researchers and the wider community through AdaptNSW.

The Australian Capital Territory climate change snapshot indicates that:

  • the ACT will continue to warm by about 0.7oC in the near future (2020–2039) increasing to about 2oC in the far future (2060–2079) with the number of hot days expected to increase to an average of five extra days above 35oC by 2030 and up to an average of 20 extra heatwave days by 2070
  • the number of cold nights will reduce, with the Territory expected to dip below 20C on average
    13 fewer times each year by 2030 and 43 fewer times each year by 2070
  • rainfall is projected to decrease in spring and increase in autumn. This will contribute to an extension of the storm season and increase of severe fire weather days in summer and spring.

The ACT Government is communicating this climate change information in multiple ways, including through the Actsmart sustainability web hub, launched in February 2015 as a key action in the Community Engagement Strategy on Climate Change. This website is increasing its following through social media (Twitter and Facebook).

Action 6: Trial advanced energy technology systems

The Renewable Energy Industry Development Strategy (REIDS), released on 1 May 2015, brings together industry, government and research and training institutions to establish the ACT as an international leader in renewable energy technology and services. Actions 4 to 6 of REIDS are specifically focused on facilitating local research and investment into battery storage as an important ‘sunrise’ industry.

Action 8: Actsmart energy assist

The Actsmart Business Energy and Water program commenced on 1 July 2012 to provide advice and assistance to small businesses and community groups in the ACT, including a rebate to assist with upgrade costs. As at 1 July 2015, 338 small businesses and community groups have received a tailored assessment and report, with 159 claiming a rebate and many more currently undertaking efficiency upgrades.

To assist medium businesses in the ACT, Actsmart has partnered with the Canberra Business Chamber to develop a suite of online resources and tools to help businesses become more environmentally sustainable, including ACT-specific energy advice and case studies, and an online tool to identify upgrade opportunities and savings. These resources are under development and will be available through the Actsmart sustainability web hub by the end of 2015–16.

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 18: Implementation status reports

Action 18 directs the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment to conduct periodic (2014, 2017 and 2020) Implementation Status Reports (ISRs) to assess how the Territory is tracking towards the stated targets and what new challenges or opportunities have emerged.

The 2014 ISR presents eight challenges and seven opportunities where new strategies, tools and information have been developed since the launch of AP2 that could provide opportunities for the ACT to improve its climate change mitigation and adaptation activities.

The purpose of the ISR is to report on the progress of implementation of the Government’s climate change policies outlined in AP2. The ISR is requested to answer five key questions:

  • How are we tracking against sector greenhouse gas reduction targets?
  • What new opportunities or challenges have emerged?
  • What are the implications for the Territory from developments in climate change science?
  • How fit for purpose are the Territory’s climate change adaptation policies?
  • How do the Territory’s targets and actions stand in relation to developments at the national or international level?

The ISR was submitted to Government in December 2014 and jointly released to the public by the Minister for the Environment and the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment in March 2015. The ACT Government will release a response to the ISR in September 2015.

The release of AP2 was accompanied by a commitment to provide an annual cost of living impact statement to guide the Government’s implementation of the strategy. Impact assessment was released at the end of 2014 as a part of the Minister’s Annual Report under the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010.

Carbon Neutral ACT Government Framework

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 Carbon Neutral Government (CNG) Framework, which was launched in August 2014.

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 2014–15, the CNG Implementation Committee and its Sub-Committee on Sustainable Government Buildings continued to monitor progress on the implementation of the CNG Framework and coordinate a whole-of-government approach. Twelve meetings were held. 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. The platform enables complete whole-of-government reporting of GHG emission reductions.

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 2014–15, the Directorate’s RMP focused 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 helped by promoting sustainability and resource efficiency within the agency. Events such as an alternative transport challenge raised awareness of using active travel options for staff work travel.

Implementation of the CNG Framework focused on building the foundations for ongoing support to Government operations, in particular the CNG Fund and the establishment of a trial of carbon/energy budgets to occur in 2015–16.

Carbon Neutral Government Fund

In 2014–15, six applications for funding were received; all were successful, with $3.542 million approved. Projects commencing in 2014–15:

  • $60,000 to CMTEDD for heating, ventilation and cooling building management systems improvements at Dame Pattie Menzies House, Macarthur House and 1 Moore Street premises.
  • $50,000 to CMTEDD for the upgrade of boiler burners at Grant Cameron Community Centre and Mount Rogers Community Centre.
  • $75,000 to CMTEDD for the upgrade of boiler burners at Village Creek Health Centre, Hackett Community Centre, Hackett Sports House and North Curtin Emergency Services Agency.
  • $20,000 to CMTEDD for heating, ventilation and cooling upgrades at Woden and Belconnen libraries.
  • $18,000 to CIT for a feasibility study into a renewable energy micro-grid.

In addition, a project was approved on 30 June 2015 for $3.318 million for a lighting upgrade and solar PV installation at The Canberra Hospital.

Many applications to the fund have been for large-scale LED lighting projects, which save energy and money. To date, installations of internal lighting in more than 90 Government buildings and schools have an estimated cost saving of $1 million per year and have reduced electricity use by 30% at some project sites.

Eighteen ACT Government projects to the value of $9.8 million have been supported under the fund since 2009. These projects have ongoing annual cost and energy savings from the date of implementation, and help support the local clean economy. The estimated cumulative total of project reductions or savings for the 2014–15 year, including the five projects established this year, is:

  • $1.78 million in cost savings
  • 7808 t CO2-e, equivalent to taking 2110 cars off the ACT’s roads for a year
  • 9303 MWh of electricity, equivalent to the energy used by 1292 ACT houses a year.
Enterprise Sustainability Platform

Achieving carbon neutrality is the collective responsibility of all ACT Government directorates. A number of actions require implementation by individual directorates, while others are being pursued through a whole-of-government approach.

The project to implement an Enterprise Sustainability Platform was completed in June 2014, but was subsequently adjusted with changing administrative responsibilities. The platform is for whole-of-government sustainability data collection and reporting for energy and water. It enhances transparency and accountability of agencies for their GHG emissions, provides a baseline for ACT Government GHG emissions in pursuit of the goal of carbon neutrality by 2020 and enables the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of initiatives to increase energy efficiency in Government buildings and operations. Data from the Enterprise Sustainability Platform will underpin the trial of carbon budgets for directorates (a cap on energy consumption) in 2015–16.

Engagement in international forums

To increase international collaboration on climate change the ACT Government signed two international agreements in 2015. The Compact of Mayors is the world’s largest cooperative effort among mayors and city officials to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, track progress and prepare for the impacts of climate change. The Compact of States and Regions represents a commitment by global state and regional government networks to the setting of targets to address climate change and implementing a range of solutions outlined in the Montreal Declaration 2009.

Through these international agreements, the ACT Government will report annually, at both the Territory and city scale, on climate change targets and emissions reduction progress to an international audience through the Carbon Disclosure Project.

The ACT will use these forums to share expertise, benchmark actions on climate change and actively contribute to, and influence, the international climate dialogue. Data collected will become the evidence base needed to quantify the effectiveness of sub-national action on GHG mitigation and adaptation.

Sustainability programs

The Sustainability and Government Section delivered a range of Actsmart incentive and educational programs focusing on energy and water efficiency and waste reduction to homes, businesses, Government agencies, event organisers, schools and the community.

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 produced quantified reductions in energy use, GHG emissions and waste sent to landfill.

Energy efficiency programs

Actsmart Home Energy Advice program

The 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 offers:

  • free home energy advice by phone, email and website
  • free workshops and attendance at events, markets and shopping centres
  • a user-pays, in-home energy efficiency assessment.

The service commenced after a Government decision to provide a cost-effective energy efficiency service 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 Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme, the Outreach Program and other ACT and Australian Government initiatives.

In 2014–15, over 2500 people attended 93 workshops and other events and advice was given over the phone and email to 149 people. Fifteen user pay home assessments were conducted.

Outreach low income energy and water efficiency program

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. These include:

  • Belconnen Community Service
  • Communities@Work
  • 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 that implement the program. Outreach also works with Housing ACT to ensure the most efficient delivery of improvements for its tenants.

In January 2015 the Outreach program partnered with Care Financial Services Inc and The Salvation Army to offer subsidies for energy and water efficient appliances purchased using the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS). This is a cost effective approach to reduce GHG emissions and water use. The following subsidies apply:

  • $300 for refrigerators
  • $200 for freezers and washing machines
  • $500 for reverse-cycle air conditioners.

The Outreach program linked with the following stakeholders, Government policies and programs in 2014–15 to ensure complementary assistance and referral processes:

  • Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme
  • Community Services Energy Concessions
  • Housing ACT Energy Efficiency Program
  • 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 1840 low income households in 2014–15. 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, window treatments, and NILS subsidies) installed in 2014–15 are:

  • energy–540 MWh (from both electricity and gas), equivalent to the energy used by 71 houses a year
  • GHG emissions–240 t CO2-e, equivalent to taking 65 cars off the road for a year.

These figures do not include savings from behaviour change and all the appliances and energy efficient products installed that are not specified above such as clothes drying racks and efficient lighting.

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 2015 is 21,733 MWh (from both electricity and gas), equivalent to the energy used by 2833 houses a year.

Total energy savings are calculated using the methodology employed by the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS). Note, not all activities offered through the Outreach program (such as education) are included in the EEIS, so the reported savings are likely to be an underestimate. 

Calculations of emissions savings uses a more recent emissions factor than the one used for the EEIS. The new emissions factor is recommended for Canberra by the Climate Change Policy team within EPD and takes into account the achievements made to meet the ACT Government’s 90% renewable energy target. As such, the emissions calculated will be lower than using the emissions factor in the EEIS methodology.

Outreach program participation including the Outreach trial

Outreach programProgram commenced2014–15 participationTotal program participation

Low income households assisted

2010

1840

6478

Energy efficient refrigerators and freezers installed to replace old inefficient appliances

2010

312

2094

Energy and water efficient washing machines installed to replace old inefficient appliances

2010

0

971

Energy saving kits, heated throw rugs and other energy and water efficient items provided

2011

1158

5344

Number of households receiving in-home energy and water assessments and education

2011

872

3952

Home energy and water retrofits

2011

312

1648

Appliances provided through NILS subsidies

2015

25 refrigerators

24 washing machines

0 reverse cycle air conditioners

25 refrigerators

24 washing machines

0 reverse cycle air conditioners

Carbon Challenge

The Carbon Challenge was launched on 25 February 2015 and meets a Parliamentary Agreement to provide online tools for households to reduce energy use and GHG emissions. The Carbon Challenge was initially developed in 2012 by the Canberra Environment Centre as part of an ACT Government Climate Change Grant. EPD worked closely with the Canberra Environment Centre to launch a revised Carbon Challenge on the Actsmart website. Participants can accept a range of challenges on energy, water, waste, transport, gardening and community.

Actsmart Business Energy and Water Program

The Actsmart Business Energy and Water Program, which provides advice and financial assistance for efficiency upgrades to small businesses in the ACT to assist in reducing energy and water consumption, 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 upgrade opportunities as well as no-cost and behaviour change recommendations. Businesses are able to claim a rebate of 50% of costs of approved upgrades up to $5000, resulting in reduced energy and water consumption, and GHG emissions.

Actsmart Business Energy and Water program participation

 2014–15 participationTotal program participation
(since July 2012)

Number of businesses assessed

115

338

Number of businesses claiming a rebate

81

159

In 2014–15 the program assessed 115 small businesses, with 81 claiming a rebate to upgrade to more efficient fittings or fixtures. Estimated savings per year from the upgrades installed in 2014–15 are:

  • energy–878 MWh
  • GHG emissions–704 t CO2-e, equivalent to taking 190 cars off the road for a year
  • savings from energy bills–$198,000 for the year, or an average of $2,440 per business.

Estimated lifetime energy savings from the upgrades installed since the program commenced are 16,565 MWh, equivalent to the energy used by 2300 houses a year.

At the Actsmart Sustainable Business Annual Awards Breakfast in June 2015, the following business received awards for its special achievements in this area:

  • Actsmart Business Energy Star–Winner: Cheeky Chicken Early Learning Centre
  • Actsmart Business Water Star–Winner: Cheeky Chicken Early Learning Centre
Actsmart Government Energy and Water Program

The Actsmart Government Energy and Water Program has been providing tailored assistance and advice to ACT Government agencies to identify energy and water efficiencies since September 2012.

The program provides a site assessment that results in a comprehensive report prepared by a Government Energy and Water Assessor. This 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 44 sites that received assessment reports in 2014–15 are:

  • energy–4711 MWh, equivalent to the energy used by 654 houses a year
  • GHG emissions–3778 t CO2-e, equivalent to taking 1020 cars off the road for a year
  • savings from ACT Government energy bills - $698,478.

Government Energy and Water Program commencement and participation

 Program commenced2014–15 ParticipationTotal program participation

Actsmart Government Energy and Water Program

September 2012

44 sites from
5 directorates

97 sites from
7 directorates

Water efficiency programs

The need for residential water efficiency programs was reduced with the breaking of the Millenium 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. In the 2014–15 Budget the Government decided to close the ToiletSmart program. This program closure refocuses funding to areas of greater priority.

ToiletSmart

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 2014–15 this program was only available to holders of Pensioner Concession Cards, thus focusing 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. The program closed on 24 September 2014.

ToiletSmart (pensioner only)Program commenced2014–15 participationTotal program participation

Free toilets provided to Pensioner Concession Card holders

May 2008

67

3184

Free home water audit

August 2010

67

2055

Free pensioner showerheads

August 2010

18

651

Water savings in 2014–15 from all toilets installed since the start the program are estimated to be 343 megalitres (ML). The cumulative water saving from 2008 to 2014–15 is estimated to be 1790 ML. GHG savings (from reduced water treatment) in 2014–15 are estimated at 408 t CO2-e, equivalent to taking 110 cars off the road for a year, with cumulative savings from 2008 to 2014–15 of 2129 t CO2-e, equivalent to taking 575 cars off the road for a year.

Waste reduction

Actsmart Business and Office 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 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 695 sites across the Territory participating in these programs include major shopping centres, fast food outlets, Canberra Stadium, Manuka Oval, Canberra Museum and Gallery, Australian Institute of Sport, Calvary Health Care, Calvary John James Hospital, National Arboretum and National Zoo & Aquarium. Including the Directorate, 287 sites were accredited, meeting the recycling standard set by the programs.

At the annual Actsmart Business Sustainability Awards Breakfast held in June 2015, the following organisations received awards for their special achievements in this area:

  • Outstanding results in waste minimisation–Joint winners: Brema Group and Elections ACT
  • Biggest recycler–Winner: National Library of Australia
  • Innovation excellence–Winner: Allbids
  • Motivation excellence–Winner: Belconnen Early Childhood Centre
  • Corporate award–Winner: Turner and Townsend
  • Small business award–Winner: Bond Hair Religion
  • Minister’s award for leadership–Winner: Jancye Winter–National Multicultural Festival

Over 40,000 staff have access to the programs. Since the program started, accredited sites have reduced waste to landfill by 48,458 cubic metres. This represents a reduction in emissions of 7009 t CO2-e, equivalent to taking 1894 cars off the road for a year. In 2014–15, the 283 accredited sites recycled approximately 11,980 cubic metres of mixed recyclables, representing 966 t CO2-e avoided and equivalent to taking 261 cars off the road for a year, and 1676 cubic metres of organic material, which is equivalent to 919 t CO2-e avoided and 248 cars off the road for a year.

In addition:

  • Many businesses that are signed to the program and working towards accreditation are achieving substantial reductions in waste to landfill that are not captured in the above statistics of accredited sites.
  • The program helps businesses and offices avoid over-servicing caused when bins are collected when not full, resulting in further savings for business owners.
  • The annual Actsmart Business Sustainability Expo, held in September 2014, showcased products and services available for business owners to better manage their waste and improve their energy and water efficiency. The Expo involved over 30 exhibitors and offered a comprehensive seminar program to the 200 attendees from the ACT business community.
  • The program offers a tour of the Materials Recovery Facility twice a year to educate staff from signed sites about the recycling process, including advice on best practice recycling.
  • 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 results in less landfill in the ACT.
Public events

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 2015, 43 events had participated in the program including Floriade, National Multicultural Festival, ActewAGL Royal Canberra Show, National Folk Festival, sporting events, fetes and fairs.

Diversion of waste into recycling streams included 30,976 kilograms (kg) of mixed recycling equivalent to 39 t CO2-e avoided, equivalent to taking 10 cars off the road for a year, and 11,494 kg of organic waste equivalent to 18 t CO2-e avoided, equivalent to taking four cars off the road for a year. Over one million patrons had the opportunity to recycle at these events.

At the annual Actsmart Business Sustainability Awards Breakfast held in June 2015, the following events received awards for their special achievements in this area:

  • Biggest recycler–small event: US Embassy 4th of July Celebrations
  • Biggest recycler–large event: National Folk Festival
Actsmart Schools

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 behaviours. All 133 ACT schools have registered with the program, covering about 72,000 students.

Actsmart Schools provides the following assistance to schools:

  • Conducts professional development workshops for teachers, school business and facilities managers and students. In 2014–15 workshop topics included engaging students in energy efficiency, waste and recycling, the sustainable management of school grounds and establishing and maintaining food gardens. These workshops attracted 122 participants from 59 schools.
  • Provides resources such as best practice guides and curriculum units on the sustainable management of energy, water, waste and recycling, school grounds and biodiversity and the integration of sustainability into the curriculum.
  • Supplies staff to advise, conduct energy assessments, address school meetings and provide schools with assistance to establish student teams.
  • Coordinates visits by a qualified horticulturist. In 2014–15, 22 schools received advice on irrigation, plant selection and garden design (to reduce water and energy consumption), keeping chickens, composting and establishing food gardens.
  • Manages a five-star accreditation scheme that acknowledges each school’s achievements.

A highlight of 2014–15 was the recognition of Actsmart Schools as a provider of professional learning through the Teacher Quality Institute. Actsmart Schools professional development activities undergo
a rigorous assessment process to gain accreditation. Participating teachers can now gain hours towards their annual professional development requirements, which are necessary to maintain professional registration.

Actsmart Schools submitted four professional development activities to the Teacher Quality Institute during 2014–15 and all activities gained accreditation.

Actsmart Schools added to the range of services provided through its energy program. Officers visited schools to:

  • review the implementation of recommendations from the 2010–11 energy audits undertaken in all ACT public schools
  • conduct an energy assessment resulting in an updated energy report and recommendations
  • provide support to establish student energy teams.

Actsmart Schools is developing a student energy kit containing resources to engage the whole school in reducing energy consumption.

Actsmart Schools continues to work collaboratively with the ACT Education and Training Directorate (ETD) to assist schools to move towards carbon neutrality, providing environmental data, workshops and ongoing education, resources and advice.

A focus of this collaboration was assisting with the delivery of the ETD Pulse (Smart) Meter Program. This year Actsmart Schools worked with ETD to identify leaks/unexplained water use in 44 schools and to support schools to use the web-based interface of this project. A Schools Earth Hour competition organised by Actsmart Schools encouraged schools to use their smart meters to monitor the change in electricity consumption through their participation in Earth Hour activities. Participating schools reported electricity savings in the range of 13% to 46%.

The comparison of consumption levels for 2014–15 between accredited and non-accredited schools is illustrated below. Note that water and energy results are based on data for public schools only.

WaterWater use per student 2014–15 (kL/student/annum)

All schools

8.11

Actsmart Schools accredited schools

6.90

Non-accredited schools

9.17

EnergyEnergy use per square metre 2014–15 (MJ/m2/annum)

All schools

354

Actsmart Schools accredited schools

306

Non-accredited schools

389

Data for 2014–15 shows that schools with Actsmart Schools waste accreditation send 22% less waste to landfill (on a per student basis) than schools that are not accredited. In 2014–15 this equated to approximately 2995 cubic metres less waste being sent to landfill from these 62 accredited schools, when compared to non-accredited schools. This represents a reduction of 433 t CO -e. In addition, 127 schools were provided with assistance to establish/re-establish waste and recycling systems, with 60 of these being visited at least once.

Waste and recyclingWaste sent to landfill 2014–15 (m3/student/annum)

All schools

0.55

Actsmart Schools accredited schools

0.47

Non-accredited schools

0.60

Wood heater replacement

The Wood Heater Replacement program aims to reduce the level of air pollution that results from the use of wood heaters by assisting residents to replace their wood heater with a more efficient heater. In January 2013, Sustainability Programs took over the administration of this program, which has been operating since 2004. Approximately 1076 wood heaters have been removed from service and replaced with cleaner mains supplied natural gas heating options. The program provides a subsidy of $1000 when replacing a wood heater with a new ducted gas installation and $500 for a fixed flue gas system or for upgrading an existing ducted system to 5/6 star. 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 has undergone improvements to become a central sustainability portal to engage the community on climate change matters and to provide integrated information, advice and support to Canberra and the region.

The enhanced website facilitates an ongoing dialogue with the community on climate change and makes sustainability information and self-help tools readily available to the community, households, schools and businesses.

The website provides extensive and up-to-date online information, news, links and a variety of interactive tools and opportunities to develop personal plans of action which helps ACT residents, businesses, schools and community organisations better manage their energy, water and waste and live more sustainably.

Further information may be obtained from:
Mr Sean Rooney
Executive Director, Sustainability and Climate Change
Telephone: 02 6207 1923
Email: EPDCorporate@act.gov.au

Image of several wind turbines with a paddock sloping up to a treed ridge on which the wind turbines stand

Strategic Planning

The Strategic Planning 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, the Nature Conservation Strategy and the ACT’s climate change strategy, AP2. The division undertakes extensive community consultation.

The Strategic Planning division is linked to the following strategic objectives and indicators:

  • Strategic Objective 4: Protecting our environment and promoting contemporary, best practice, environmental standards
  • Strategic Objective 5: Deliver spatial planning, urban design and building outcomes for the Territory that contribute to a more sustainable Canberra
  • Strategic Indicator 5: Amend planning legislation and practices to ensure delivery of land supply, housing affordability and sustainable transport options
  • Strategic Objective 6: Achieve and maintain effective regulatory systems
  • Strategic Indicator 6: Continuous review of regulatory policies, procedures and systems and ensuring that environment protection, heritage, nature conservation and construction activities are properly coordinated and effective in its application

The division comprised Major Projects and Transport, Planning and Heritage.

Planning Branch

The Planning branch 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 the allocation of community facilities 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.

Planning strategy

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 Canberrans.

Implementing this whole-of-government policy involves considerable cross-agency co-ordination, and regular monitoring and reporting on progress of the Strategy.

Areas identified by the ACT Planning Strategy for growth included the West Belconnen future urban investigation area, the Gungahlin and Molonglo future urban areas, and urban intensification around the city centre, the town and group centres and the inter-town rapid transit corridors.

Regional and cross-border planning

In the spirit of the ACT–NSW Memorandum of Understanding for Regional Collaboration (2011), the Directorate continued to work closely with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment and surrounding councils on a range of cross-border and regional planning matters. This included work to facilitate the delivery of the South Tralee residential development in South Jerrabomberra, NSW, and the Riverview development in West Belconnen and adjoining area of Parkwood in NSW.

City plan

The City Plan (March 2014) 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 ACT Government’s City to the Lake proposal to put forward a clear vision for the future of the city centre, how it will look and how it will develop and grow over time. The City Plan is being implemented through the City and Northbourne Urban Design Framework.

Master plans

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.

Master planning activities for 2014–15 included:

  • completion of master plans for Oaks Estate and the Weston group centre
  • continuation of master plans for the Woden and Belconnen town centres and the Mawson group centre
  • commencement of master plans for the Calwell, Curtin and Kippax group centres
  • scoping for a rural village plan for Tharwa.
Active Living grant to Heart Foundation (ACT)

A three-year grant to the Heart Foundation (ACT) to fund the Active Living program was concluded, with support for this initiative transitioning to the Health portfolio under the Healthy Weight Initiative. Strategic 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, advice, capacity building and outreach projects and activities to influence work across a number of directorates, including providing a report on incorporating active living principles in the Territory Plan.

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 renewal or where a master plan is being prepared. The areas being considered include the Molonglo Valley, Curtin and east Gungahlin. There is ongoing strategic assessment and monitoring of the supply and demand, and the 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, and residential and commercial advisory committees.
Molonglo Valley

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 for this area is being reviewed by the LDA.

Detailed investigations to inform future planning for Molonglo Valley stage 3, located between the Molonglo River and William Hovell Drive, continued. These investigations will inform the preparation of a planning and design framework for stage 3 in 2015–16.

The branch continued to provide expert technical assistance to other directorates, particularly TAMS, Economic Development within (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, an implementation strategy is being finalised in consultation with the Emergency Services Agency (ESA). The Directorate is assisting the ESA with the implementation of the ACT Strategic Bushfire Management Plan (Version 3) and is participating in the ACT Flood Planning Committee, which is chaired by the ACT State Emergency Service.

Eastern Broadacre

The Eastern Broadacre area extends from the Majura Valley to Hume on the eastern side of the ACT.

A number of environmental surveys were completed within the area. This and other information is being used to prepare a strategic assessment under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act for the entire Eastern Broadacre area.

West Belconnen

The branch assisted with planning and infrastructure investigations for the proposed West Belconnen development, as identified by the ACT Planning Strategy. The branch prepared a structure plan and concept plan to support Territory Plan Draft Variation 351 (West Belconnen), which was released for public consultation in May 2015.

Land Requests Advisory Committee

The branch 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 53 submissions in 2014–15.

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.

Forward Policy and Research Unit

This unit is involved in the research and dissemination of economic and social trends relevant to metropolitan planning, as well as their synthesis into strategic policy positions for the ACT Government.

A number of key policy setting papers were completed and web-published during the year. Topics included metropolitan spatial planning policy (the divergence of residential settlement from economic centres); suburban centres (local centres within the ACT centres hierarchy); housing supply (reconciliation of competing housing objectives); and demography (the metropolitan distribution and implications of projected residential growth 2014–31).

Economic and demographic research undertaken in support of key ACT Government and land use planning initiatives included resident population and dwelling projections (ACT Suburbs 2016–41, Canberra Region 2016–61); light rail transit for the ACT (Capital Metro Stage 1, City–Northbourne Urban Design Framework, Light Rail Master Plan); ACT master planning program (Belconnen, Woden, Weston, Mawson, Calwell and Curtin centres) and East Lake.

Presentations given to a broader government and higher education audience included ‘ACT Population Change and Metropolitan Planning’ for the Climate Change Council, ‘Strategic Town Planning’ and ‘Metropolitan Planning in the ACT’ at the University of Canberra and ‘Evidence-based Planning’ for ACT directorates.

Other
  • Social infrastructure planning and the development of related planning policies were undertaken.
  • The Canberra Urban and Regional Futures project continued under 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.
  • The branch supports the Major Project Review Group through providing technical and design advice on development applications.
  • The branch represents the ACT on the National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group.
  • Secretariat and design support to the work of the ACT Government Architect was provided.

ransport planning and major projects

The branch has responsibility for transport policy, planning and design, with a key focus being the integration of land use and transport network planning across all transport modes (walking, cycling, public transport, community transport, road transport, rail and freight). The branch 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 branch, as well as transport infrastructure and services planning. The team conducts transport impact assessments for new developments and has a key role to coordinate and promote active travel such as walking and cycling. The team also provides transport input on strategic planning within the Directorate and in collaboration with other directorates.

In 2014–15, the team completed a number of studies, strategic investigations and policy development initiatives. Work focused mainly on the Light Rail Master Plan, the City and Northbourne Urban Design Framework and implementation of the Transport for Canberra 2012 policy commitments. 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 and productive, 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. The Transport for Canberra Report Card was released in 2014 and details the progress since Transport for Canberra was published in 2012.

The branch provided input on land release, direct sales and estate development and provided technical advice on 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.

Completed studies

The first Transport for Canberra Report Card was released in September 2014. The report card provided an update on the actions in Transport for Canberra and shows that there has been significant progress in all aspects.

Building an Integrated Transport Network–Active Travel (Active Travel Framework), released in May 2015, outlines how the government can better integrate planning and delivery of active travel initiatives to further encourage and support walking and cycling as part of Canberra’s overall urban planning, transport, health, environment and education systems. Implementation of the framework will be overseen by a new Active Travel Office, which will improve coordination and engagement across directorates.

Building an Integrated Transport Network–Parking (Parking Action Plan) was released in May 2015. The plan includes a range of initiatives designed to make parking more accessible by improving the availability of different types of parking to support different needs, aligning short-term parking to better support access to businesses and services, and making parking easier to locate.

Following release of the Parking Action Plan, an updated Parking Fee Determination was completed to reflect the Government’s decision to increase the price of public parking annually by 6%. The updated fee determination has already consolidated the number of fee categories and laid the foundations for further streamlining of parking fee categories, updated mapping of pay parking areas, and helping to manage demand for short stay parking.

The Vehicle Emission Reduction Scheme was introduced in June 2015. The scheme outlines how the Government can support the purchase of new fuel efficient cars, utilities (utes) and light commercial vehicles that reduce GHG emissions as we transition to a low carbon economy.

Ongoing studies

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. The Directorate continued to provide technical support to the Capital Metro Agency.

The City and Northbourne Urban Design Framework is the next step in the implementation of the City Plan. The urban design framework will establish the desired future character for the Northbourne Avenue corridor and the city centre, including built form guidelines and public realm and landscape improvements. It will provide a framework for the delivery of capital works, land release and development and a transport and movement action plan for the city centre. Workshops on the framework were held in February and April 2015. Community consultation on the draft documents is anticipated in late 2015.

Building an Integrated Transport Network–Freight (Freight Strategy) was progressed, with release anticipated for late 2015. The vision of the Freight Strategy is to deliver an efficient, safe and sustainable freight network and services for a growing ACT and regional economy and community while protecting urban amenity and freight access. The strategy is part of the ACT Government’s complementary approach to building an integrated transport network that supports the Government’s broader economic and social objectives.

Building an Integrated Transport Network–Low Emission Vehicles (Low Emission Vehicle Strategy) is being developed, based on a discussion paper and feedback gathered during community consultation in 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 final strategy is anticipated to be released in late 2015.

The Directorate is undertaking surveys on the performance and locations of Park and Ride sites to better understand how they can work best to meet the needs of commuters and encourage them to use a mix of transport options. This work will guide future service planning, infrastructure works, master plans and manage parking demand.

The branch maintains strategic transport modelling capability as an analytical tool to: analyse complex land use and transport relationships; develop transport infrastructure options; examine and assess transport options; and identify how the transport system is likely to perform in future. Further detailed transport modelling work was undertaken within North Canberra and Northbourne Avenue as part of the City and Northbourne Avenue project.

The Parking and Vehicular Access General Code in the Territory Plan sets out for developers the requirements for vehicular access and parking provision. The code is being reviewed to ensure parking rates required for development are up to date and that the code can be easily understood and applied. It is expected the review will be completed in 2015–16, with a statutory process and associated consultation to follow to formally amend the code.

Consultation

The division conducts extensive community consultation on its projects. Wherever possible, consultation follows the ACT Government’s policies and guidelines on community engagement, including six week consultation periods. A range of media is used to publicise the consultations, including: media releases; the ACT Government’s Community Noticeboard in The Saturday Canberra Times; advertising in The Chronicle; posting on the Government’s Time to Talk website and the Directorate’s websites, Facebook page and Twitter feed. For localised consultations such as master plans, postcards or newsletters are letterbox-dropped to the surrounding suburbs. The community has the opportunity to speak directly to planners at centres that are subject to master plan studies and at meetings with the relevant community councils or residents’ associations. Young people are engaged through workshops at primary and secondary schools and with youth groups.

Feedback is encouraged in a number of ways, including online and paper feedback forms, surveys and/or general email and mail correspondence. For major engagements, consultation reports are prepared and placed on the Directorate’s website.

During the year, consultation occurred for the following projects:

  • Statement of Planning Intent
  • Woden Town Centre Master Plan
  • Mawson Group Centre Master Plan
  • Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan
  • Curtin Group Centre Master Plan
  • Calwell Group Centre Master Plan
  • Eastern Broadacre Study
  • The City and Northbourne Urban Design Framework
  • ACT Freight Strategy
  • Low Emission Vehicle Strategy

Minister Gentleman undertook broad consultation on his Statement of Planning Intent, including a series of workshops for peak community groups, peak industry and business groups, academia and the heads of government agencies. Separate workshops were held with children/young people and mature Canberrans. The Statement and community engagement report will be released later in 2015.

Heritage

ACT Heritage administers the heritage provisions of the Heritage Act 2004 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 provides administrative and operational support to the ACT Heritage Council and to their projects including:

  • assessment of nominations to the ACT Heritage Register against the heritage significance criteria as defined under the Heritage Act 2004
  • reviewing and approving conservation management plans
  • providing advice to the planning and land authority on development applications 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 ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the ACAT) and the Supreme Court
  • undertaking the ACT Government Agency Heritage Assets Audit as required under the Heritage Act
  • developing guidelines that guide development for heritage places and objects
  • coordinating 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

Canberra Tracks is an initiative of the ACT Government, providing eight self-drive interpretive trails that incorporate heritage sites across the ACT. Each heritage site on the trails has an interpretive sign telling the story of its past and its connection to the present.

During 2014–15, the Canberra Tracks initiative was further expanded, with the inclusion of Trails 7 (Woden) and 8 (Tuggeranong). The heritage signage program has increased private and community partnerships and built a reputation for quality service delivery as it responds to requests for acknowledgement of heritage sites through interpretation.

The supporting website www.canberratracks.act.gov.au was further expanded. A joint partnership with the University of Canberra’s School of Education resulted in students using Canberra Tracks initiatives towards assessment in the history/geography component of their degree course. Students’ work was included in a free Augmented Reality Smartphone app enabling additional video, audio and images to be downloaded at various Canberra Tracks sites.

A new Canberra Tracks brochure was printed to incorporate all eight heritage trails and instructions for the smartphone app. The brochure continues to be placed at 110 tourism outlets including hotels, visitor centres, railway stations, attractions and car hire depots. The Canberra Tracks branding is recognised as enhancing the experience of visitors and locals while celebrating the Territory’s built, Aboriginal and natural heritage.

Heritage Festival

The Canberra and Region Heritage Festival, held 11–26 April 2015, included 140 events, activities and exhibitions and involved 60 groups and individuals from the government, community and private sectors. The theme of the festival was Conflict and Compassion and was aligned with the 100 year commemorations of Gallipoli. Some of the more popular events included the ‘Our boys’ train’, which re-created the enlistment of two young men as they boarded the authentic steam train. The return journey was fast-tracked to 1918—a sombre mood as only one of the young soldiers return. ‘When Hall answered the Call’ was an exhibition focusing on local recruits from the Hall region and ‘Ngunnawal traditional engagements and World Wars’ involved local Aboriginal custodians talking about tribal conflict and their families part in the two world wars.

ACT Heritage Grants program

The 2014–15 ACT Heritage Grants Program funded 20 projects totalling more than $285,000. The program is the primary source of funding for individuals and community organisations involved in heritage conservation in the ACT.

OrganisationProject titleProject descriptionAmount

Southern ACT Catchment Group

Interpreting Aboriginal Heritage Places in Tuggeranong

Interpretation of significant sites of Aboriginal heritage in the Tuggeranong area through a series of six guided walks by Ngunnawal people in the urban landscape, three audiovisual web pieces and an event in the 2015 Heritage Festival.

$9,000

Telopea Park School

Conservation Works to WWII Memorial

Telopea Park School, entered on the ACT Heritage Register, is one of the oldest schools in Canberra (c. 1923). The school’s war memorial commemorates the services of all students who served in World War II and the students who died in that conflict. This funding is for conservation works to ensure no further loss occurs to the original render.

$6,900

St Paul’s Anglican Church Manuka

Conservation Management Plan

A new conservation management plan will guide the ongoing and long-term repair, maintenance and conservation of the heritage-listed St Paul’s Church building. The architecture and aesthetics of St Paul’s are of landmark quality and the church is in a highly visible location.

$9,940

Cultural Heritage Management Australia

Prehistoric Aboriginal Archaeology along the Murrumbidgee

Two phases of archaeological investigation of an extremely well-preserved Aboriginal site within the Lanyon Heritage Precinct and its interpretation relative to the prehistorical utilisation of the Murrumbidgee River. The interpretation of Lanyon will be expanded, with rare artefacts excavated to be used in displays and tours, including during the Heritage Festival.

$24,000

Friends of ACT Trees

Bendora Arboretum Interpretive Walking Track

A walking trail with interpretive signage at Bendora Arboretum within Namadgi National Park. Bendora Arboretum and an associated hut are entered to the ACT Heritage Register and survived the 2003 fires. This popular destination for walks will be part of the Canberra Tracks network.

$17,050

Village of Hall and District Progress Association

Conservation Works to Hall School House

The original Hall School building requires conservation work as outlined in its conservation management plan. The works will allow its continued use as a school museum that is regularly open to the public, and is of benefit to a wide audience.

$13,500

Canberra Archaeological Society

Archaeological study of Springbank Island

The development of a cultural heritage management plan for ‘Springbank’, a site of European and Aboriginal occupation of Canberra, will raise awareness of the early European settlement of Canberra, with an open day to be held during the 2015 Heritage Festival.

$17,000

Molonglo Catchment Group

Ngunnawal Walks and Talks

A partnership with local Aboriginal groups that will provide a program integrating social, cultural and environmental perspectives through a public lecture, walk and talk events, a boat cruise and bus tour.

$13,670

All Saints Anglican Church, Ainslie

Conservation Management Plan

All Saints is of significant importance to the heritage of the ACT with its architecture and aesthetics of landmark quality. An updated conservation management plan will guide future development and works.

$10,000

Jennifer Gall

Listening to the Past: Music in Historic Places

The project will produce a sound recording for Mugga Mugga, Calthorpes and Lanyon using sheet music and instruments belonging to each home, to recreate music that would have animated each place in the past. The focus on WWI music also ties well to the 2015 Heritage Festival theme.

$10,000

University of Canberra

Reviving our Hidden Collections

This project is for an audit, significance and needs assessment of the Mineral and Economic Geology Collection, unique to the ACT, which is located at the University of Canberra.

$7,825

Canberra Alpine Club

Mt Franklin Chalet Memorial Pad

The Mt Franklin Chalet site is entered on the ACT Heritage Register. Prior to its destruction in the 2003 fires, the chalet was the oldest built ski lodge on the mainland. A Memorial Pad will help preserve the chalet’s footprint and offer an improved interpretation of what the Chalet was and is to Canberra and the broader community. Regular open days are held on site including an event scheduled for the 2015 Heritage Festival.

$8,580

Molonglo Catchment Group

Exhibition of Natural Heritage on Black Mountain

The project is in partnership with Friends of Black Mountain for a seven month exhibition of the natural heritage of Black Mountain on the lower ground floor of the Telstra Tower. The display will feature information on the heritage-listed snow gums, small purple pea and the Ngunnawal use of plants that are found on Black Mountain.

$5,304

Ginninderra Catchment Group

Aboriginal heritage in the Ginninderra Catchment

Through a series of four interpretive walks at sites of significance, Ngunnawal guides will facilitate further public awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal heritage in the Ginninderra catchment area. Audio-visual productions of the walks will be published online.

$6,000

National Trust of Australia (ACT)

2015 Heritage Festival Open Day at Mugga Mugga

Previous annual open days held by the National Trust as part of the Heritage Festival have been a key feature of the program, and well attended. This event provides an occasion for demonstrations, performances and stalls to be part of the Heritage Festival. The theme Conflict and Compassion is fitting (nursing), as it links to the last resident of Mugga Mugga, Sylvia Curley.

$6,800

Canberra and District Historical Society

Celebrating Local History

The Canberra and District Historical Society’s resources will be used to assist the Curtin community celebrate its 50th anniversary by collecting oral histories, conducting a local history quiz, and conducting workshops for ACT teachers, showing how Canberra local history can be used in teaching the National History Curriculum.

$7,000

Australian Railway Historical Society

Locomotive 1210 Protective Cover

Locomotive 1210, an important object of ACT Heritage, hauled the first train into Canberra in May 1914. It is 136 years old and is included on the ACT Heritage Register. A permanent covering is needed to protect it from Canberra’s climate and allow servicing.

$59,315

Cultural Heritage Management Australia

Community based analyses of Aboriginal cultural material

The current storage facility for the Aboriginal artefact collection is deteriorating and provenance may be lost. There is significant benefit to better understand the archaeological collections held by the ACT Government. This project will enable a broader understanding of the values of Aboriginal assemblages, which are under-recognised at present.

$41,050

Peter and Kate Gullett

Lambrigg Homestead Conservation Works

Lambrigg Cottage (William Farrer’s laboratory) is in urgent need of works to ensure its continued conservation and protection. The owners have undertaken maintenance and conservation works to the buildings over the past 15 years and conduct a heritage walk around the Lambrigg property at their open garden days held in spring, visiting the graves of William Farrer and his wife, Nina (nee De Salis). This funding will ensure continued conservation works at the place.

$12,500

Review of the Heritage Act

The Heritage Legislation Amendment Act 2014 (the Amendment Act) was passed in September 2014 and came into effect on 4 October 2014. The Amendment Act has amended the Heritage Act 2004 in response to the 2010 Heritage Act Review. In preparing the Amendment Act, the Government considered each of the 111 recommendations of the review. Following the tabling of the draft bill in the Legislative Assembly on 16 May 2013, a four week public consultation on the draft bill was undertaken, with comments leading to further amendments.

The amendments, as passed:

  • remove the introduction of Ministerial call-in powers as proposed in the Bill’s original drafting
  • retain the full independence and statutory decision-making powers of the ACT Heritage Council in relation to all registration decisions
  • create consistency with the significance assessment criteria of other jurisdictions
  • provide better integration of heritage legislation with the Nature Conservation Act 1980 and the Tree Protection Act 2005
  • streamline processes for early investigative works at sites earmarked for development through the introduction of excavation permits and Statements of Heritage Effect
  • create a simplified, open and transparent process for registering and protecting the ACT’s heritage places and objects
  • remove appeal provisions where there is no natural justice argument for their retention, and achieves consistency with other jurisdictions and comparable legislation in the ACT
  • ensure public authorities lead by example in managing heritage assets.

Work commenced on developing an ACT Heritage Strategy in response to other recommendations of the review and to set a clear direction and framework for the recognition, protection, conservation and promotion of our heritage places and objects for a five-year period.

Heritage registration

Work continued on assessing the backlog of approximately 143 nominations to the ACT Heritage Register. During the 2014–15 reporting period:

  • 2 nominations were made to the ACT Heritage Register
  • 27 decisions were made on provisional registration (including decisions not to provisionally register)
  • 13 decisions were made on full registration
  • 42 nominations have been identified as probable duplications.
  • Nominations to the ACT Heritage Register
  • NSW/ACT Border Markers (various locations)
  • Kallenia Woolshed, Molonglo
  • Decisions to provisionally register
  • Northbourne Housing Precinct, Dickson and Lyneham
  • The former AAA Building, Braddon
  • Robertson House, Oaks Estate
  • The Oaks, Oaks Estate
  • The former MLC Building, City
  • Molonglo Valley Grinding Grooves, Denman Propsect
  • Onyong’s Grave Site, Tharwa
  • Birrigai Rock Shelter, Paddys River
  • Gossan Hill, Bruce
  • Rock Valley Homestead and Surrounds, Paddys River
  • Nil Desperandum Homestead and Surrounds, Paddys River
  • Yarralumla Woolshed and Outbuildings, Weston Creek
  • Kowen Cultural Precinct, Kowen
  • Pine Island Homestead and Surrounds, Greenway
  • Rosebud Apiary and Surrounds, Belconnen
  • Decisions not to provisionally register
  • Canberra Olympic Pool, City
  • Red Hill Public Housing Precinct, Red Hill
  • Allawah and Bega Courts sample group, Reid
  • Kanangra Court, Reid
  • Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Parkes
  • Unity Cunningham’s House and Garden, Paddys River
  • Creek Landscape
  • Redwood Grove, Majura
  • Natural Temperate Grasslands at Lawson and Majura
  • Calvary Homestead Ruin, Paddys River
  • Fairbridge Crescent, Ainslie
  • NRMA House, Braddon
  • Decisions to register
  • Hibernian Hotel Site, Kowen
  • Crinigan’s Hut Artefact Collection
  • Shakespeare Hall (formerly St Columba’s Presbyterian Church, Hall)
  • Havelock House, Turner
  • Northbourne Housing Precinct, Dickson and Lyneham
  • The former AAA Building, Braddon
  • Robertson House, Oaks Estate
  • The Oaks, Oaks Estate
  • The former MLC Building, City
  • Molonglo Valley Grinding Grooves, Denman Propsect
  • Onyong’s Grave Site, Tharwa
  • Birrigai Rock Shelter, Paddys River
  • Gossan Hill, Bruce

Appeals in the ACAT (Registrations)

Support was provided to the ACT Heritage Council on a number of appeals in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT).

A registration decision for the former AAA Building, Braddon, was appealed to ACAT, with the matter scheduled for hearing on 19–22 October 2015.

A registration decision for the Northbourne Housing Precinct in Dickson and Lyneham was appealed to ACAT. On 12 February 2015 the ACT Heritage Council (the Council) registered a sample of the Northbourne Housing Precinct. On 6 March 2015 the National Trust of Australia (ACT) lodged an appeal with ACAT seeking review of the Council’s decision on the basis that the entire precinct should be registered. On 22 May ACAT determined that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter and the application for review of the Council’s decision was dismissed. The Trust subsequently lodged an application for review in the ACT Supreme Court.

Appeals in the Supreme Court

The National Trust of Australia (ACT) applied to the Supreme Court for the notifiable instrument for the Heritage Council to provisionally register the Northbourne Housing Precinct to be declared invalid and for the notifiable instrument for the subsequent Heritage Council decision to register a sample of the Northbourne Housing Precinct to be declared to have no effect (as a result of the notifiable instrument for provisional registration being declared invalid).

A Consent Agreement was signed by both parties on Thursday 30 July 2015, setting aside the Council’s decisions on registration.

Advice

ACT Heritage continued its high success in providing advice within mandatory timeframes including:

  • 114 pieces of advice on development applications relating to registered, provisionally registered and nominated heritage places
  • 35 pieces of advice on development applications relating to Aboriginal heritage sites (included in the above total)
  • nil environment impact statement (EIS) replies for either draft EIS or final EIS
  • 1 request for an EIS exemption
  • 27 pieces of advice to the Conservator of Flora and Fauna regarding tree protection
  • 31 pieces of advice to the National Capital Authority regarding works applications
  • 13 conservation management plans for historic sites assessed, seven conservation management plans for historic sites approved and two conservation management plans relating to Aboriginal heritage sites assessed
  • 24 pieces of advice on cultural heritage assessments, with 20 of these relating to Aboriginal heritage places and objects
  • 6 pieces of advice on Statements of Heritage Effects, including four statements of heritage effects relating to Aboriginal heritage places
  • 8 pieces on advice on excavation permit applications, for investigations of Aboriginal heritage and historic settler places
  • 80 pieces of advice on applications for restricted information on Aboriginal heritage places and objects
  • 33 pieces of advice provided in relation to non-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
  • 64 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.
Appeals in ACAT (advice)

One development application was appealed in ACAT after being refused by the planning and land authority on the advice of the Heritage Council. DA 201425272 proposed an addition to an existing dwelling in Griffith. The Heritage Council did not support the development application as the existing dwelling already exceeded the site coverage allowed under the Heritage Guidelines for the Blandfordia 5 Housing Precinct in which the dwelling is located. The matter was heard in ACAT in February 2015. A decision has not yet been published on the appeal.

Compliance

ACT Heritage received 16 complaints relating to compliance with the Heritage Act 2004 in the
2014–15 period. Three complaints were in regard to disturbance of Aboriginal heritage places and objects and 13 were in regard to works at built heritage places. Two complaints were referred to the Investigations Team in the Environment and Planning Directorate, three were referred to Roads ACT as the appropriate agency to investigate and the remainder have been resolved.

As a result of compliance investigations, one heritage direction was issued by the Heritage Council.

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 was sent to ACT Government agencies. The 391 assets include 216 objects, 214 of which comprise street furniture including signs, hydrants, seats, power poles and bus shelters located within registered heritage areas.

Amendments to the Heritage Act 2004 now require agencies to complete the audit every three years, with the next audit due in 2017.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reporting
ACT Heritage

ACT Heritage, in conjunction with the ACT Heritage Council, has facilitated numerous heritage projects, as detailed below, to recognise and promote the history of Aboriginal occupation and culture in the ACT, including coordinating and producing Aboriginal heritage interpretative sites throughout the ACT.

Aboriginal projects funded by the ACT Heritage Grants Program 2014–15

The Southern ACT Catchment Group was granted $9,000 for interpretation of significant sites of Aboriginal heritage in the Tuggeranong area through a series of six guided walks by Ngunnawal people in the urban landscape, three audiovisual web presentations and an event in the 2015 Heritage Festival, described below in relation to tribal conflict and the two world wars.

The Molonglo Catchment Group received $13,670 for a partnership with local Aboriginal groups providing a program which integrated social, cultural and environmental perspectives through a public lecture, walk and talk events, a boat cruise and bus tour. The Molonglo Catchment Group, together with Friends of Black Mountain received $5304 for a seven-month exhibition of the natural heritage of Black Mountain on the lower ground floor of the Telstra Tower. This included an event during the 2015 ACT Heritage Festival.

Ginninderra Catchment Group received $6000 for a series of four interpretive walks at sites of significance. Through this grant, Ngunnawal guides facilitated public awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal heritage in the Ginninderra catchment area.

Cultural Heritage Management Australia received $24,000 to continue archaeological investigations within the Lanyon Precinct to investigate archaeological evidence of contact between Aboriginal and European settlers at the site.

Aboriginal events in the Canberra and Region Heritage Festival 2015

Three Aboriginal heritage events relating to Ngunnawal involvement in tribal conflict and the two world wars tied directly into the theme for the Canberra and Region Heritage Festival, Conflict and Compassion. Other festival events with an Indigenous component included the Black Mountain exhibition and a show at the Canberra Glassworks staged by Indigenous artist Jenni Kenmarre Martinello. Cultural Heritage Management Australia and the Canberra Archaeological Society led archaeological tours at Lanyon and Springbank Island during the Heritage Festival in connection with their heritage grant.

Conservation works

The Council considered conservation works for a number of Aboriginal sites.

Detailed archaeological investigations involving the Representative Aboriginal Organisations (RAOs) were completed by Cultural Heritage Management Australia. They assessed the significance of Aboriginal heritage sites in the development footprint of the planned Taylor Estate.

The Council approved a conservation management plan for this project in September 2014 and issued further advice in November 2014 on the archaeological testing methodologies and heritage site management outcomes. Test excavations and collection of Aboriginal sites involved all RAOs. Assessment has been ongoing on significant heritage places such as an Aboriginal scarred tree, which will be protected from development impacts.

Detailed archaeological investigations were ongoing within the development footprint of the planned Throsby Residential Estate, with the final stage of archaeological salvage completed by Biosis and RAOs during the reporting period. Detailed planning for the long-term protection of two Aboriginal heritage sites within the estate area were undertaken, with an Aboriginal scarred tree and area of archaeological deposit to be conserved due to their high significance values.

The Council also provided ongoing advice on heritage matters concerning the Denman Prospect residential development, with particular focus on the conservation of an Aboriginal grinding groove site of high cultural and heritage significance.

The Council continued to provide advice to the National Capital Authority on a range of projects, one being a proposed solar farm in the Majura Valley. On-site discussions were held with the developer and RAOs. As a result, the developer actively sought to reduce the project’s impact footprint and, where impacts cannot be avoided, will undertake archaeological investigations and management in accordance with Council advice.

Aboriginal Heritage policies

In 2013 the Heritage Council approved project briefs for four policies concerning the conduct of cultural heritage reporting, repatriation of Aboriginal artefacts, consultation with RAOs, and methodological requirements for archaeological investigations in the ACT. In 2014, independent consultant reports to inform each policy were submitted to ACT Heritage with recommendations for adoption into future Council policies.

The inclusion of the report recommendations into future policies will help streamline the approval of methodologies and assist in making Council decisions more transparent and more comparable.

The background research documents for the following four policies have been submitted to the Council for its consideration.

  • Consulting with Representative Aboriginal Organisations (RAOs)

The Heritage Act 2004 formally recognises RAOs, who also provide input into cultural heritage investigative processes.

This policy will formalise requirements and protocols surrounding RAO consultation on heritage matters in circumstances which are not clearly outlined under the Act. It will also provide clarity for RAOs, heritage consultants, government agencies and developers with regard to the consultation process.

  • Return to Country: Repatriation of Aboriginal Artefacts

It is the preference of the RAOs that Aboriginal cultural material remain on, or be ‘returned to Country,’ in direct contact with soil.

A new policy is being developed to address the cultural preference for Aboriginal material to remain on, or be returned to Country.

  • Reporting and Structural Requirements for Cultural Heritage in the ACT

It is an offence under s. 75 of the Heritage Act to damage an Aboriginal place or object other than where there are exceptions permitted, as detailed in s. 76. These exceptions include, for example, having an excavation permit, statement of heritage effect or conservation management plan approved by the Council in place. In most instances, a cultural heritage assessment report will also be prepared prior to development to inform applications for Council approvals.

This policy has been finalised and endorsed by the ACT Heritage Council. It addresses the structural and content requirements of various cultural heritage reports submitted to the Council and provide clarity to consultants and RAOs surrounding the Council approvals process.

  • Methodological Review of Sub-Surface Testing and Excavations in the ACT

This policy will entail a review of methodologies used in archaeological investigations over the past three years, and will clearly establish a defined rationale for selection of appropriate methodologies for projects in the ACT.

The recommendations will be considered in the drafting of a policy for conducting Aboriginal and historic heritage investigations.

Further information may be obtained from:
Mr Tony Carmichael
Executive Director, Strategic Planning
Telephone: 02 6207 1923
Email: EPDCorporate@act.gov.au

Planning Delivery

The Planning Delivery Division is responsible for reviewing the Territory Plan, the administration of 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 more sustainable Canberra
  • Strategic Indicator 5: Amend planning legislation and practices to ensure delivery of land supply, housing affordability and sustainable transport options.

In 2014–15 the division comprised Development Assessment, Lease Administration, and Territory Plan.

Merit assessment

The Merit Assessment section has three separate units based on geographic areas—north, south and Weston Creek/rural. Each unit assesses merit track applications under Chapter 7 of the Planning and Development Act (P&D Act) for that area. The section also determines exemption declaration applications under s. 1.100A of the Planning and Development Regulation 2008. Staff attend tribunals and courts on development application (DA) related matters.

In 2014–15 the section assessed 1169 merit track DAs, with determinations made within statutory timeframes for 70.6% of these.

The section managed 421 exemption declaration applications, with an average determination time of six 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 require development approval. This provides a simpler process for proponents of single house developments and enables more staff to consider more complex development proposals.

The section assessed a wide range of complex and mixed-use DAs, most notable of which were:

  • Block 13 Section 3 Phillip: Construction of a multi-storey mixed-use development comprising office floor space and 184 residential dwellings with basement and podium level parking.
  • Block 1 Section 22 Phillip: Construction of 323 dwellings contained in three towers (two 12-storey buildings and one 9-storey building) with residential amenities including a gym, swimming pool and communal landscaped areas, with two basement levels.
  • Block 21 Section 30 Dickson: Proposed construction of mixed-use development comprising two supermarkets and other commercial tenancies, 155 dwellings and associated site works. This DA was refused.
  • Block 4 Section 57 Greenway: Construction of a staged mixed-use development comprising three buildings with 276 dwellings and commercial areas.
  • Block 59 Section 50 Kingston: Proposed construction of new mixed-use development consisting of 14 non-residential and 156 residential units, basement and ground floor parking and associated site works.
  • Block 31 Section 34 Dickson: Demolition of existing buildings and construction of a five-storey mixed-use building consisting of 14 commercial tenancies, 224 residential units and two levels of basement car parking.
  • Block 46 Section 50 Macquarie: Construction of a new three-storey mixed-use development to be spread between seven buildings with basement car parking.
  • Block 13 Section 11 City: Construction of a new five-storey office building with ground floor pedestrian access and café, new façade to Customs House, new landscaped plaza and basement parking.
  • Block 16 Section 49 Symonston: Demolition of the existing Quamby Youth Justice Centre and construction of a new secure mental health facility.
  • Block 1 Section 65 Kingston: Construction of 156 residential units and one commercial unit, associated parking, landscaping and other site works.
  • Block 2 Section 14 Gungahlin: At the Gungahlin Shopping Centre Marketplace Stage 3, demolition of existing carpark and retail space, construction of a new retail development, a two-level basement carpark, new pedestrian entry to the shopping centre and underground carpark link.
  • Block 1 Section 15 Wright: Construction of 75 units in three buildings ranging from two to six storeys, access driveway, landscaping and associated site works.
  • Block 4 Section 66 Kingston: Construction of 69 dwellings within a six-storey building with two basement levels and associated landscaping.
  • Block 2 Section 12 Pialligo: Construction of single level bulky goods retail development by Ikea, including retail areas, warehouse/store, loading areas, ancillary restaurant, amenities and staff areas.

Impact and estates assessment

The Impact and Estates Assessment section is responsible for environmental impact assessment and development 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 Minister on applications for exemptions from the preparation of an EIS under s. 211 of the P&D Act
  • administering applications for environmental significance opinions
  • 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 DAs
  • assessing merit track DAs where an environmental significance opinion has previously been given under s. 138AA of the P&D Act.
  • assessing DAs for estate development plans, primarily for new residential estates but also for industrial, commercial and mixed-use subdivision proposals.
Highlights:
  • The University of Canberra public hospital project was granted an exemption from the requirement to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) under s. 211 of the Planning and Development Act 2007. The section administered and provided an assessment of the application to support the Minister’s consideration and decision.
  • The Mugga Lane 13 MW Solar Facility at Tuggeranong was approved by the planning and land authority. This project, which will support a reduction in carbon emissions and generate energy equivalent to the power requirements of 3100 home, contributes to the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
  • The section administered, assessed and decided a range of significant applications including applications for the development of Ikea, the Symonston Secure Mental Health Facility, stage 1 of a low cost tourist accommodation facility at Gungahlin and estate development applications at Moncrieff, Denman Prospect and Kingston.
  • The section facilitated the development and implementation of the Planning and Development (Bilateral Agreement) Amendment Act 2014, which made amendments to assessment and approval processes to support the implementation of a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals, which is currently being negotiated with the Australian Government.
  • The section prepared a scoping document for the preparation of the draft EIS for Capital Metro’s Light Rail Stage 1. This facilitated the preparation of a draft EIS by the Capital Metro Agency, lodged with the planning and land authority in June 2015. Throughout the year, the section also provided regular advice to the Capital Metro Agency on planning processes.

The section approved estate development plans providing for the release of 1131 single dwelling blocks and 16 multi-unit blocks providing for the release of 576 dwellings. This will allow for 1707 additional dwellings and is a 1239 dwelling site increase over the 468 dwelling sites approved in the previous year. Estate development plans approved in 2014–15 included:

  • Moncrieff East Estate: 1206 dwelling sites (730 single dwelling blocks, 15 multi-unit blocks for 476 dwelling units)
  • Denman Prospect Stage 1A: 401 residential blocks
  • Kingston Block 1 Section 67: mixed-use and open space block creation–1 multi-unit block maximum dwelling yield 100.

The section administered 13 applications for an environmental significance opinion.

The section prepared responses to five referrals under the EPBC Act from the Australian Government for potential controlled action projects.

The section was also involved in the following ongoing policy and legislative reform projects within the Directorate:

  • Review of the location of hazardous industries—a revised policy framework is under consideration
  • Review of existing regulatory measures and future options for balancing competing interests in relation to noise and odour in mixed-use areas—commenced
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design Working Group—draft code and guideline is in development
  • Municipal Infrastructure Standards Review Working group—revised standards are in development
  • Estate Development Plan Guideline Review to provide improvements in the estate development plans pre-circulation and DA lodgement to reduce timeframes for approval
  • Participated in strategic assessment working groups and provided advice on planning processes to facilitate future DAs
  • Environmental Offsets Working Group, which coordinates a collaborative approach to planning, establishment and management of environmental offsets.

Lease administration

Lease Administration is responsible for managing the leasehold system under Chapters 7 and 9 of the Planning and Development Act 2007. The section comprises three subunits:

  • Development Assessment Leasing
  • General Leasing
  • Deed Management.

Lease Administration also administers Crown leases in designated areas and assists the National Capital Authority with interpretation of permitted land uses. The section contributed to a number of internal and across government legislative projects including:

  • collaboration on legislative projects to support the University of Canberra Decision of Government: the University of Canberra Amendment Act 2015 and the Planning and Development (University of Canberra and Other Leases) Legislation Amendment Act 2015
  • the Asbestos Response Taskforce
  • the economic stimulus package, through management of remission instruments
  • City West development, through extension of the timeframe for direct sales to complete projects.

Data on statutory approvals and processes for the lease administration section are set out below.

General leasing

Further leasesExecutive leasesRent re-appraisalsSection 2981 transfersLand rent payoutsOther subleases and transfers

Received 27

Offers 0

Processed 52

Processed 512

Received 183

Received 10

Executed 29

Granted 1

  

Executed 126

Approved 10

Section 3032 LicencesSection 303 licences (telecommunications)Motor vehicle licence adviceLiquor licence advicePurpose clause interpretation

Pending* 25

Received 0

Processed 8

Processed 73

Processed 41

Executed 5

Executed 0

   

* Terms under negotiation between the Custodian and the proposed licensee

Community title and unit title

Community title applicationsUnit title applications

Received 2

Received 71

Approved 2

Approved 87

Registered 2

Registered 83

Rural Leasing

Land withdrawalGrazing licencesFurther leases offersAcquisitions

6

49

Offers 7 and Granted 4

Requests 2

Completed 0

Deed management

LDA Leases3Private development leases3

355

845

Notes:

1. S298 - Transfer of a Crown lease containing time frames to build on undeveloped the land.

2. S303 - Licences over unleased Territory land, including encroachment licences.

3. Consequent leases issued from a holding lease.

Leasing DA–lease variations

2008-092009-102010-112011-122012–132013-142014–15

203

204

272 of which 83 were
combined with design and siting

236 of which 65 were
combined with design and siting

139 of which 59 were combined with design and siting

104 of which 46 were combined with design and siting

215 of which 120 were combined with design and siting

Leasing checks

2008-092009-102010-112011-122012–132013-142014–15
 

999

842

693

749

970

1361

Concessional leases (ss. 257 and 258)

DeterminedPendingAppeals

24

4

0

Lease variation/Change of use charge

 DeterminedPaidRemissionsWaivers

Notes:

1. S276E chargeable variation–lease variation charge (LVC) is calculated in accordance with the codified schedules (Disallowable Instrument DI2011-198)

2. S277 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. S277E/S277–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.

Section 276E1

74

58

9 remissions,
1 at 100%, 3 at 50%,
1 at 25%, 4 at 40%

4 partial waivers at 15%

Section 2772

64

56

All attract a remission of 25%, 3 at 100%, 1 at 50%,
3 at a further 25%

0 waivers

Section 276E/S2773

3

4

Section 277 component attract 25% remission,
2 at 50% (housing) 2 at 40%

2 partial waivers, 1 at 15%, 1 at 100% for the s277 component for childcare

Change of use charge4

7

10

All attract a remission of 25%, 2 at 100% (service stations)

2 partial waivers at 25%

Development Assessment Leasing

Development Assessment 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 variations, LVC appeals, concessional lease determinations and DA 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 P&D Act permit determinations to authorise remissions of LVC in specified circumstances. These sections are heads of power available to be used should Government policy require remissions. The following remission determinations were active and on the legislation register during the year:

  • Remission of LVCs Determination–General Remissions (DI2011-201)
  • Remission for Community Purposes–Housing Assistance (DI2011-318)
  • Remission for Adaptive Re-use–Public Art (DI2012-79)
  • Remission for Community Purposes–Child Care Centres (DI2014-97)
  • Remission for Environmental Remediation–Former Service Stations (DI2012-125)
  • Remission for Economic Stimulus and Sustainability (DI2014-48)
Lease variations

No new appeals against LVC determinations were lodged with ACAT during 2014–15.

In 2013–14, two cases relating to the determination of the former Change of Use Charge 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.

Under the Act, an application for reconsideration of a LVC determination, supported by an independent valuation, must be determined before appeal rights to the ACAT may be exercised. One application for reconsideration of LVC was received. The original decision was confirmed.

No new DAs to remove concessional lease status were lodged during 2014–15. A total of 14 applications have been lodged under the Act.

During the year, three development applications were finalised by the registration of a new market value Crown lease:

  • Block 9 Section 19 Forrest–Council of Italo-Australian Organisations Inc
  • Block 5 Section 30 Braddon–Canberra Raiders
  • Block 7 Section 23 City–Hellenic Club

Applications determined but not yet finalised are:

  • Block 12 Section 19 Forrest–Council of Italo-Australian Organisations Inc
  • Block 68 Section 35 Deakin–National Association of Forest Products–approval not proceeding.
  • Block 16 Section 36 Deakin–Croatia Deakin Football Club Incorporated

One appeal (Block 49 Section 37 Deakin) against the determination of the concessional lease payout amount was received. The matter was discontinued and the approval has been surrendered.

One application (Block 28 Section 34 Dickson) expired prior to registration.

During the year 215 lease variations were lodged and 161 were approved (including combined applications). Lease variation lodgements increased by 106% this financial year. Lease checks also increased by 40%.

Development applications lodged and approved between 2008 and 2015

DAs2008–092009–102010–112011–122012–132013–142014–15AverageMean

Lodged

224

279

271

111

165

104

215

195

191

Approved

203

204

272

236

139

103

161

188

187

Notes:

1. The above 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 lease variation charge, submission of survey plans, checking of Instruments and draft Crown leases are all part of this process. In 2014–15, 126 Crown leases and Instruments of Variation were registered at the Office of Regulatory Services compared with 104 in 2013–14.

General leasing

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.

Land rent payouts this year returned $35 million to the Government. The number of applications continues to rise annually and increased by 55% to 185 this year. Fifty-seven land rent applications are currently awaiting settlement. No new land rent leases have been granted since 1 October 2013.

The number of units plans registered remained steady at 83 during 2014–15, compared with 81 in 2013–14.

In the best interests of purchasers, General Leasing continued the practice of 100% audit of applications for unit title. An assessment of compliance issues undertaken in 2012–13 did not support the Directorate reducing the level of the audit at this time. The Directorate will continue to monitor the issue.

In 2011–12, the Directorate held approximately $500,000 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 had 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, nearly 50 landscape bonds to the value of over $300,000 have been released, with $187,170 remaining outstanding. Of this, $15,100 has been identified as unclaimed Trust monies.

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 under review to increase some 20 year lease terms to 99 years.

Deed management

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 private sector land development in the ACT through cooperation with the relevant areas of the Directorate, CMTEDD (including LDA), TAMS and relevant service agencies.

The 2014–15 work program included:

  • 40 deeds of agreement under management, with a further five deeds currently under preparation in addition to three new deeds being executed
  • 385 consequential leases issued, including multi-unit leases issued to private sector land developers (not dwellings)
  • 416 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.

Territory Plan

The Territory Plan section is responsible for reviewing and varying the Territory Plan, as well as providing advice on its policy content.

Draft variations to the Territory Plan go through a consultation process, as outlined in the P&D Act. The proponent for the variation is required to provide a consultation report when seeking a draft variation. The draft variation is notified for six weeks. A range of media is used to publicise the draft variation consultation, including: media releases; the ACT Government’s Community Noticeboard in The Saturday Canberra Times; posting on the Government’s Time to Talk website and the Directorate’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed. Where relevant, presentations are made to the local community council.

Following consultation, a report is prepared for the Minister for Planning and a recommendation made as to whether to proceed. The Minister may choose to reject the draft variation, table it in the Legislative Assembly or refer it to the Standing Committee on Planning, Environment and Territory and Municipal Services.

The section also collaborates with and prepares advice for the National Capital Authority on proposed amendments to the National Capital Plan and other planning documents.

Eight Territory Plan variations were approved and commenced:

  • V297–Public land overlay and zone changes–Conservator for Flora and Fauna
  • V304–Commercial zones–Territory Plan review
  • V318–Tuggeranong town centre–ACT Government master planning program
  • V319–Gungahlin District–Gungahlin Strategic Assessment and Biodiversity Plan
  • V322–Downer–ACT Government Land Release Program
  • V323–Symonston mental health facility–ACT Government Health Infrastructure Program
  • V325–Woden bus layover–ACT Government master planning program and the Woden Public Transport Planning Framework
  • V336–Symonston–ACT Government Land Release Program
  • V338–Mitchell–ACT Government Land Release Program.

In addition, four draft variations were recommended to the Minister:

  • DV309–Turner Bus Layover–Transport for Canberra 2012
  • DV321–Pialligo–ACT Government master planning program
  • DV327–Capital metro light rail corridor–Transport for Canberra 2012
  • DV337–Greenway–ACT Government Land Release Program

One draft variation was under consideration following the receipt of public submissions:

  • DV320–Erindale–ACT Government master planning program

In addition, seven draft variations were released for public comment:

  • DV328–Oaks Estate–ACT Government master planning program
  • DV329–Weston group centre–ACT Government master planning program
  • DV330–Kaleen–Public Housing Renewal Program
  • DV331–Lyons–Public Housing Renewal Program
  • DV335–Charnwood–Public Housing Renewal Program
  • DV343–Residential blocks surrendered under the loose fill asbestos insulation eradication scheme–ACT Government Asbestos Response Taskforce
  • DV347–University of Canberra–University of Canberra Master Plan
  • DV351–West Belconnen Urban Development–consistent with the ACT Planning Strategy 2012.

Seventeen technical amendments were made to the Territory Plan:

  • Three technical amendments required public notification (including code and future urban area rezoning amendments)
  • Ten future urban area uplifts, some of which included ongoing provisions
  • Three boundary realignments
  • One miscellaneous amendment including removal of redundant provisions.

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.

Further information may be obtained from:
Mr Jim Corrigan
Executive Director, Planning Delivery
Telephone: 02 6207 1923
Email: EPDCorporate@act.gov.au

Office of the Surveyor-General and Land Information

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. There were 998 land parcels (blocks) registered during the 2014–15 financial year.

The ACT Surveyor-General, Bill Hirst, retired and Jeff Brown became the new incumbent. A new position, Manager of Land Information was created with responsibility for the upgrade of ACTMAPi and cadastral and addressing database. The ongoing development of spatial systems is an important part of the role of the Surveyor-General’s office.

The office, on behalf of the ACT Government, has undertaken a program to capture high resolution elevation imagery and 3D digital elevation (LIDAR) for the ACT and surrounding region. This dataset will enable ACT to be a true 3D digital city. The data and all derived products will be released under Creative Commons by attribution licence (CCBY 4.0). In partnership with NSW Land and Property Information, the ACT Government issued a request for quote in December 2014 and awarded the tender in 2015.

The ACT Road Centreline project was established in June 2014 as a multi-directorate cooperative project to create a reliable, complete, consistent and accurate road centreline dataset (including tracks and trails) for the ACT Government and ensure its ongoing management and accessibility. The project is managed by the ACT Government, with funding provided by Geoscience Australia under the National Topographic Information Coordination Initiative program. The outcomes of the project will not only benefit the ACT Government but have a flow-on benefit to national mapping activities of Geoscience Australia, the Public Sector Mapping Agency and the Foundation Spatial Data Framework. The funded work was completed in 2014–15 and has moved into a maintenance program. The project was highly commended in the 2015 ACT Public Service Awards for Excellence. Final reports and presentations will be disseminated in the new financial year.

The Surveyor-General co-chairs the ACT Public Place Names Committee with Dr David Headon. The current committee was appointed by the Minister for Planning after nominations were accepted through an expression of interest process. During the year the Place Names unit named 62 new roads and amended the determination of two road names. Of particular note was the naming of roads in the new suburbs of Moncrieff (District of Gungahlin) and Denman Prospect (District of Molonglo Valley).

Under section 39 of the Electoral Act 1992 the Surveyor-General serves on the ACT Electoral Redistribution Committee, which has presided over the electorate redistribution from three to five electorates and the new electorate names.

The office continues to work closely with the NSW Board of Surveying and Spatial Information to advance the development of the profession. The majority of the 83 surveyors registered in the ACT hold a dual licence to practise in both jurisdictions.

Further information may be obtained from:
Mr Jeff Brown
Surveyor-General
Telephone: 02 6207 1923
Email: EPDCorporate@act.gov.au

Government and Executive Support

Executive Coordination

The Government Services section maintains efficient processes for effective relationships between the Directorate and its main stakeholders of the Ministers’ offices, Cabinet, the Legislative Assembly and its Committees. 

Within the section there are a number of distinct roles: Cabinet liaison, coordinating the Directorate’s submissions of its strategic and program priorities with Cabinet offices as well as responses to other agencies’ submissions; Ministerial liaison, ensuring all correspondence to and from the Ministers’ offices is responded to appropriately and efficiently; Assembly liaison, undertaking the coordination of all matters  required to be considered by the Legislative Assembly during each sitting period; and Executive support, providing secretariat support for several internal and external committees. 

The team undertakes a range of management, policy support and administrative roles, requiring in-depth knowledge of the Territory’s Assembly, Cabinet and legislative frameworks and processes.

Communications

The Communications section provides strategic communications advice and support to line areas, liaises with the media, prepares internal and external publications, manages the website and intranet, coordinates the social media platforms, and coordinates advertising, campaign and marketing activities. The team also provides communications support to both Minister Corbell and Minister Gentleman’s offices.

The section supported community engagement activities by the planning, policy and programs areas, particularly with consultation on the Statement of Planning Intent, master plans, transport initiatives, draft variations to the Territory Plan and major policy initiatives such as the Nature Conservation Act, Basin Priority Project and renewable energy. Communication strategies are developed for major policy initiatives and Government priorities.

Publications and print management for collateral such as brochures, factsheets, banners, posters, and reports were prepared including editing advice, graphic design and brand management. The section coordinated several media and stakeholder events for major government initiatives, including the solar and wind auctions.

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. Facebook and Twitter accounts, which are updated daily, have over 1300 and 1500 followers respectively. Over 210 media releases were prepared during the year.

The team contributed to the whole-of-government Coordinated Communications Network, which shares media monitoring, information, strategies and issues across government directorates.

Legislation services

Legislation Services provides 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.

The section assists in the development, coordination and implementation of the Government’s legislation program as it relates to the role of the Directorate, including reviewing draft proposals and draft instruments for new Acts and subordinate legislation as required. 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 and 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 and maintains a register of statutory appointments and delegations.

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. It not only provides 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.

Further information may be obtained from:
Ms Karen Wilden
Senior Manager, Ministerial and Government Services
Telephone: 02 6207 1923
Email: EPDCorporate@act.gov.au

Three people standing infront of the Australian and Aboriginal flag at the launch of the Directorates Action Plan showing a copy of the plan

Finance and Operations

The Finance and Operational Support Section is responsible for the Directorate’s financial and budgetary activities and for delivering key operational activities that support the Directorate’s core business, including facilities management, fleet management, records management compliance, ICT system support, human resources and managing responses to public access requests including Freedom of Information.

The section coordinates the Directorate’s corporate interface with CMTEDD and manages the annual budget development process. It facilitates financial reporting in accordance with Directorate and legal obligations, including the preparation and finalisation of annual accounts.

Through this branch 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 delivery of services to the community.

During 2014–15 EPD completed a major upgrade to the Objective EDRMS, a whole-of-government recordkeeping system, on behalf of the ACT Government. This upgrade was completed on time and within budget and delivered a significantly improved digital recordkeeping environment. Principal enhancements included anywhere anytime access to information via mobile devices, simplified interface and advance searching, which has enabled far more advanced discovery capabilities and has stabilised and improved the overall system performance.

The Governance team undertakes activities to ensure 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. Refer to sections B3–6 for more detail.

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 plan. Significant initiatives 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 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.

During 2014–15, Strategic Human Services managed the formal relationship with ACT Shared Services and CMTEDD in terms of human resources and delivered a number of programs in partnership with them. Work in support of the development and refinement of the Directorate’s high level organisational structure and consequential effects was a priority over the year. Obligations arising from the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 were a 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. Refer to sections B7-8 for more detail.

Further information may be obtained from:
Mr Bruce Fitzgerald
Director, Finance and Operations
Telephone: 02 6207 1923
Email: EPDCorporate@act.gov.au