B2 - Performance Analysis

Strategic Objectives and Indicators

This section discusses the Directorate's performance against the strategic objectives and indicators specified in the ACT Budget Papers.

Strategic Objective 1: Deliver a planning and leasehold system that delivers quality spatial outcomes and urban design, integrated transport and development outcomes that contribute to economic prosperity and a sustainable Canberra.

Strategic Planning

The Directorate undertook numerous planning and strategic land use management studies and initiatives in support of creating "sustainable, compact and liveable neighbourhoods".1 The City and Gateway Urban Renewal Strategy, the ACT Planning Strategy Refresh and an integrated approach to planning Section 72, Dickson were this year's flagship projects. Further, the Directorate's commitment to improving design quality in the ACT was strengthened with the establishment of the National Capital City Design Review Panel. Co-chaired by the government Architect and the Chief Planner from the National Capital Authority, the panel is providing effective design advice to a range of proposals for development.

A compact neighbourhood represents a sustainable approach to land use and management; however, it will result in infill development and changing character in established areas. The Planning Policy Division has anticipated the flow-on effects of a compact neighbourhood for Canberra. With the aim of enabling infill development while protecting the amenity and character of established areas, the Directorate is undertaking strategic planning studies to prepare for this important transition. Further information on key outcomes can be found at Strategic Objective 3, page 26.

Announcement of an Interim Chief Engineer position on a part-time basis was made in June 2018. Among other duties, a major task of the interim Chief Engineer will be to scope the role of the ongoing Chief Engineer.

The interim Chief Engineer will undertake ongoing consultation with industry representatives and will add value to co-ordination of infrastructure investment and urban development within the Territory.

Infrastructure Planning

The Directorate was also involved in many key infrastructure-related projects that support our growing city. This year, the main infrastructure-related projects included:

  • ACT Second Electricity Project: ongoing critical infrastructure project involving the design and construction of a substation to enhance the security and reliability of power supply to the ACT
  • Molonglo 3 Urban Development major infrastructure: providing for major roads, water supply, sewerage, relocation of major electrical infrastructure and stormwater management to this new community
  • Molonglo Valley Sewer Vent Project: ensuring adequate sewer ventilation of Canberra's largest sewer, the Molonglo Valley Interceptor Sewer, to protect the asset and mitigate any odour impact on future residents of Molonglo
  • Mawson Retarding Basin: design project to improve flood safety and reduce risks to life and property along Yarralumla Creek near Southlands shopping centre.

Strategic Indicator 1: Develop, engage on and implement city-wide urban land and transport policies, strategies and plans that underpin planning for the future urban growth, land supply, and major infrastructure in a coordinated way across government.

The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

  • Work on the Eastern Broadacre Strategic Assessment continued, assessing potential for development in the context of the natural environment under the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
  • Ongoing preparation of the Molonglo Valley Stage 3 Planning and Design Framework to define locations of commercial centres, schools, trunk infrastructure and higher order road, and open space networks. Completion of the framework will enable detailed planning and land release within the area in the coming years.
  • Feasibility and design studies were undertaken for major infrastructure at Molonglo Valley Stage 3 including major roads, water supply, sewerage, relocation of major electrical infrastructure and stormwater management for this future community.
  • Continued work on a planning refresh of the Gungahlin Town Centre to ensure the centre's overarching planning framework directs, informs and accommodates future growth.
  • Continued coordination of the ACT's Second Electricity Project.
  • Commencement of the 2018 ACT Planning Strategy Refresh.
  • Continued to administer and review the Territory Plan.
  • Commencement of the Housing Choices project to consider ways to improve housing choices and diversity in the ACT.
  • Commencement of the draft Integrated Plan for the Red Hill Nature Reserve in response to the resolution of the Legislative Assembly of 25 October 2017 - Minutes of Proceedings, Number 36, Wednesday 25 October 2017
  • Continued development of the City and Gateway Urban Design Framework, the guiding policy for managing urban renewal and growth in Canberra's city centre and along Northbourne Avenue.
  • Commencement of the City Parking Strategy, which will set out the approach to the management and supply of parking in and around the city centre and the Gateway corridor.
  • Continued the Parking Code Review, which will update the Code to make it simpler for users, implement the shift from parking demand satisfaction to demand management, and assist in achieving the government's mode share targets for public transport and active travel.
  • The Disability Parking Review commenced to consider how to encourage the appropriate use of disability parking, increase enforcement of illegal parking in disability parking and whether additional disability parking spaces are required.
  • Development of master plans for the Kippax and Curtin group centres continued, informed by the outcomes of a newly established community panel process to discuss development and redevelopment opportunities.
  • Development of the Tharwa Village Plan continued.
  • An interim National Capital Design Review Panel was established to provide expert design advice to improve the quality of the built form and public places.
  • The 3D Canberra planning tool was extended and enhanced to improve the understanding and review of complex planning and urban renewal developments.
  • Commencement of planning and early community engagement on proposals for the future use of the Section 72 area in Dickson.
  • Announcement of the interim Chief Engineer.

Strategic Objective 2: Protect and enhance our natural environment, water resources and heritage values.

In 2017–18 the Directorate delivered the following key outputs:

  • Work continued on finalising the ACT Water Resource Plan and implementing the ACT Water Strategy, Striking the Balance, with a report on implementation and a second implementation plan due at the end of 2018.
  • Work continued with other governments in the region and the community to deliver the H2OK Keeping our Waterways Healthy stormwater education program.
  • Support for strong governance of water resources continued, through a strategically enhanced whole-of-government approach as well as through strong intergovernmental cross-border and community relations through the ACT and Region Catchment Management Coordination Group.
  • Following completion of the first five years of implementation of the ACT Water Strategy, an implementation report was produced, demonstrating significant progress across the majority of the strategy's actions. A further five year implementation plan is being prepared.
  • A new Water Sensitive Urban Design General Code, part of the Territory Plan, is being finalised for public consultation. The new code offers greater flexibility in addressing water quality and quantity targets as well as responding to changes in technology since the original Code was introduced in 2005.
  • Preliminary works and/or construction began on 12 wetland, pond, raingarden and creek restoration projects as part of the ACT Healthy Waterways Project.
  • The Lake Tuggeranong research trial and urban pond research project commenced.
  • Finalised the Integrated Water Quality Monitoring Plan and tendered event-based monitoring.
  • The first ACT Action Plan for Listed Migratory Species was finalised and implemented; actions include the Latham's Snipe project, a partnership with the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust to track birds migrating from the ACT's Jerrabomberra Wetlands to Japan.
  • The ACT Native Grassland Conservation Strategy and eight associated action plans were finalised. Action plans included Natural Temperate Grassland, Grassland Earless Dragon, Golden Sun Moth, Striped Legless Lizard, Perunga Grasshopper, Button Wrinklewort, Ginninderra Peppercress, and Baeuerlen's Gentian.
  • The ACT's first Murray Cod Native Species Conservation Plan was finalised.
  • The ACT Riparian and Aquatic Conservation Strategy and associated action plans were consulted on. Action plans include Two-spined Blackfish, Trout Cod, Macquarie Perch, Murray River Crayfish, Tuggeranong Lignum, Silver Perch, Murrumbidgee Bossiaea.
  • Implementation of the ACT Nature Conservation Strategy continued, including community engagement, research and on-ground actions for ACT-listed threatened species and other natural assets.
  • Projects under the National Landcare Program were finalised, resulting in 1571 hectares of habitat protected or managed, with 74,712 trees planted.
  • The Grassy Woodlands Stakeholder Group was supported, including for the ACT Woodlands Forum, attended by more than 170 people.
  • Work on the Eastern Broadacre Strategic Assessment continued, assessing potential for development in the context of the natural environment under the Commonwealth's EPBC Act.
  • A 'Cultural Burning: Evolving with Country and Community', South-east Australia Aboriginal Fire Forum, attended by 130 people, was held to share knowledge between First Nations people, fire practitioners and professionals.
  • An implementation report on the Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Program 2015–17 (BRAMP 2015-17) was finalised.
  • Monitoring plans and condition analysis reports were developed for the eight broad ecosystems within the Conservation Effectiveness Monitoring Program.
  • $151,000 of capital works for heritage projects were delivered.
  • The 2018 Canberra and Region Heritage Festival: My Culture, My Story celebrated Aboriginal, European and natural heritage. With partners, the festival delivered 156 events— 81 tours, 23 talks/workshops, 16 exhibitions, 15 open days and 21 cultural events.
  • $197,354 of heritage grants were delivered to 18 different projects.
  • $203,000 of ACT Environment Grants were delivered to nine projects, including weed and erosion control, care and rehabilitation of native wildlife, and support for on-ground citizen science projects.
  • Territory-wide flood mapping and flood studies for specific projects and developments were undertaken.
  • The ACT Government's annual Burn Right Tonight community education campaign was run over winter to educate the community on the correct use of wood heaters to help minimise pollution, save money and improve Canberra's air quality.

Strategic Indicator 2.1: Work with the community on implementing the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.

Under the Water Act 2007 (Cth), the ACT must prepare a ten-year water resource plan that demonstrates how surface water and groundwater is managed in the ACT consistent with the net Sustainable Diversion Limits set under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. The ACT Water Resources Act 2007 is the framework for the ACT Water Resource Plan.

The ACT Water Resource Plan will establish how the ACT will comply with its net Sustainable Diversion Limit of 54.70 gigalitres/year for surface water and 3.16 gigalitres for groundwater; that is, the maximum amount of water that can be taken annually from the environment for consumptive use.

The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

  • Submission of the ACT Water Resource Plan to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority for approval is on track for completion in 2018, with accreditation expected by mid–2019. The current plan has been extended accordingly.
  • The preparation of a long-term environmental watering plan, as required under the Basin Plan, commenced during the year, based on the ACT's Environmental Flow Guidelines. The plan will be submitted by the end of 2018.
  • The determination of Indigenous water values and uses as required for the ACT Water Resource Plan continued, with the involvement of the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations group.
  • Work commenced with the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and NSW to develop interstate water trading arrangements.

Strategic Indicator 2.2: Deliver the ACT Healthy Waterways project against timelines agreed with the Commonwealth.

A joint initiative of the Australian and ACT governments, the ACT Healthy Waterways (Basin Priority) Project is investing $93.5 million in infrastructure, in-lake research, education, monitoring across the ACT region. This project aims to reduce nutrient and sediment loads and significantly improve water quality in the ACT's lakes, the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee rivers and, consequently, the Murray–Darling Basin.

The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

  • Construction of a range of water quality infrastructure commenced. Of the 19 water quality infrastructure projects planned for the ACT and Queanbeyan, construction has begun on twelve (as of 30 June 2018).
  • The Lake Tuggeranong Research Trial commenced. Sampling will continue until June at which time researchers at the Institute of Applied Ecology at the University of Canberra will begin to trial a selection of in-lake interventions to improve water quality.
  • Research into how changing the water level in urban ponds affects water quality commenced.
  • The Integrated Water Quality Monitoring Plan was finalised and the tender process to support its implementation commenced.
  • Roll-out of the H2OK Keeping our Waterways Healthy education and public awareness campaign continued. The campaign supports and encourages behavioural change in the ACT and region on actions individuals can do to improve water quality. The campaign has been well received.
  • Rain gardens in Holder and Isabella Plains and the restoration of a creek in Mawson are nearing civil completion, with planting scheduled for spring and late summer. There will be an initial establishment period but parts of each site could be open to the public as early as autumn 2019.

Strategic Indicator 2.3: Develop and implement ACT wide sustainability policies including biodiversity conservation.

In partnership with our community, the government has a key role in protecting biodiversity and improving the management of our national parks and reserves, rural lands and waterways.

The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

  • A Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Program to improve management of parks and reserves and better target on-ground action for landscape rehabilitation and recovery of threatened species was published.
  • Protection, management and restoration of native grasslands was improved, including the threatened Natural Temperate Grassland Ecological Community, through finalisation of ACT's Native Grassland Conservation Strategy and associated action plans for threatened flora and fauna, and on-ground projects funded through environmental offsets and programs such as the National Landcare Program.
  • The community was engaged on: the conservation and management of aquatic and riparian environments through public consultation on a draft Aquatic and Riparian Strategy and seven action plans for threatened fish, crayfish and plants; the ACT's first Murray Cod Native Species Conservation Plan (released in November 2017); and the Fisheries Act 2000.
  • International conservation efforts were supported through: tracking of Latham Snipe, an international migratory bird often observed at Jerrabomberra Wetlands; and finalising the ACT's first Action Plan for Listed Migratory Species on 23February2018.
  • Knowledge about, community engagement in and management of woodlands were strengthened through on-ground restoration and community planting days, extending Mulligans Flat Sanctuary and the reintroduction of species into the Sanctuary, at the ACT Woodland Forum (27 June 2018).
  • Sustainable agriculture and biodiversity were enhanced on farms through the National Landcare Program and Regional Landcare Facilitator, with more than half the ACT's rural landholders engaging with ACT NRM through grants, coordinated pest management, workshops and training.
  • Riverine ecosystems and fish habitat were enhanced through the completion of a second engineered log jam in sandy reaches of the Murrumbidgee River, Carp removal in Upper Stranger and Isabella ponds and the ongoing restoration of these areas with native plant and fish species.
  • Aboriginal engagement in caring for Country was enhanced through the Aboriginal NRM Facilitator, including the South East Australia Aboriginal Fire Forum (10–12 May 2018).
  • Management and restoration of natural temperate grasslands, box gum woodlands and river corridors in the ACT was improved through Phase 1 of the National Landcare Program 2014–18, including revegetation, weed control, pest control, erosion control and habitat improvement.
  • Community engagement enhanced understanding and knowledge of biodiversity values and conservation through delivery of the annual Eco Focus research forum, the cultural burning workshop, the Woodlands Forum and the regular ecological science seminar series.
  • Climate change flora refugia were identified to assist with ongoing and future management of areas where species assemblages are likely to change.
  • Ongoing baseline data collection and survey of ACT soils, vegetation and species continued to strengthen knowledge and information and support evidence-based decision making. This includes the continued support of the Conservation Effectiveness Monitoring Program to ensure baseline indicators are monitored and management response identified when required.

Strategic Objective 3: Deliver balanced and effective policies for safe buildings, effective environmental controls and optimal land use outcomes.

In 2017–18 the Directorate delivered the following key outputs:

  • ACT Planning Strategy Refresh 2018: The review of the existing 2012 Planning Strategy commenced late in the year, looking at the Territory's capacity for appropriate growth and change and particularly considering how a more compact urban form can deliver urban renewal while maintaining quality of life in a changing climate.
  • Living Infrastructure Project: associated with the Planning Strategy Refresh, this research commenced to analyse the role of shade and impermeable landscapes, with a view to supporting and enabling living infrastructure in a changing climate
  • City and Gateway Urban Design Framework: The development of the framework began with the analysis of the study area and the development of design requirements for use in the assessment of development applications in the City and Gateway corridor to promote high quality design that understands and responds to the desired character, landscape setting and surrounding context. Consultation exercises were also undertaken for the framework
  • Section 72, Dickson: This strategic planning exercise began with the intent of identifying and assessing the land use opportunities offered by this under-utilised inner-north site.
  • Master Plan Program: The program continued, with the preparation of master plans for Tharwa Village, Kippax Group Centre and Curtin Group Centre. The process involved consultation with key internal and external stakeholders (including the community) to guide economic progress, quality design and to set clear parameters for development.
  • Red Hill Traffic Study: Analysis of traffic generation and impact on residences adjoining a proposed medium density development was undertaken.
  • 3D Canberra: This innovative three dimensional planning tool enables planners and designers to perform interactive, live, human-scale analysis of development proposals in an accurate 3D Canberra city context. The tool is being extended and enhanced in every year, and is instrumental in understanding implications of proposals for both private development and development within the public realm.
  • Eastern Broadacre Strategic Assessment: An ongoing strategic assessment under the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) for the eastern side of Canberra from the Majura Valley, around Fyshwick and Symonston through the Jerrabomberra Valley to Hume. The potential impact of employment-generating development is being assessed in the context of matters of national environmental significance to ensure any future development areas are aligned with key environmental conservation outcomes.
  • Molonglo Valley Stage 3 Planning and Design Framework: Preparation of the Planning and Design Framework (PDF) for the area north of the Molonglo River (including the future suburb of Whitlam) continued, with the definition of locations for commercial centres, schools, trunk infrastructure and higher order road, and open space networks. The framework also considers the Kama Nature Reserve adjacent to the urban area. Completion of the framework will enable detailed planning and land release in the coming years.
  • Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh: The planning refresh of the Gungahlin Town Centre was ongoing, working to ensure the centre's overarching planning framework is appropriate to direct, inform and accommodate future growth for this key town centre.
  • Parking Code Review: Updating the Parking Code continued, to make it simpler to use and better aligned with broader government objectives, including supporting sustainable mode shift and realising urban renewal and higher density development.
  • City Parking Strategy: Development of the strategy continued, defining and refining parking policy to enable broader strategic objectives, including encouraging more sustainable travel behaviours, facilitating economic development and employment growth and supporting social inclusion. The emerging strategy will guide the management of parking supply and demand in the city centre and gateway corridor as urban renewal occurs and a greater proportion of parking is expected to be privately provided.
  • Mobility Parking Review: To ensure people who genuinely require access to mobility parking spaces receive the access they need. The review commenced to addresses the administration and fairness of the scheme, provision and distribution of mobility spaces, and community education about the scheme.
  • ACT Building Regulatory System Reforms:
    Work is ongoing on improving the ACT's regulatory system for buildings.
  • Home Swimming Pools: Consultation is under way for the home swimming pool safety reforms.
  • Energy Efficiency Rating Disclosure:
    The review of the ACT's scheme for the mandatory disclosure of energy efficiency ratings was initiated.
  • National policy input: The Directorate worked with officials from other jurisdictions under the Building Ministers' Forum on national policy for non-conforming building products, accessible housing and a range of other building issues.

Strategic Indicator 3.1: Continuous review of regulatory policies, systems and ensuring that environment protection, heritage, nature conservation and construction activities are properly coordinated and effective in application.

The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

  • The Fisheries Act 2000 (ACT) was reviewed, including community consultation.
  • Work continued on the implementation of the Nature Conservation Act through the development of legislative instruments relating to species, ecological communities and key threatening processes, including the following:
    • Nature Conservation (Murray Cod) Native Species Conservation Plan 2017 (NI2017-561)
    • Nature Conservation (Translocation of Native Flora and Fauna) Conservator Guidelines 2017 (NI2017-650)
    • Nature Conservation (Native Grassland) Action Plans 2017 (DI2017-288)
    • Nature Conservation (Eastern Grey Kangaroo) Conservation Culling Calculator Determination 2018 (NI2018-141)
    • Nature Conservation (Protected Native Species) Criteria and Processes 2017 (DI2017-294)
    • Nature Conservation (Listed Migratory Species) Action Plan 2018 (DI2018-27)
    • Activities Declarations for reserves including Sherwood Forest Special Purpose Reserve (NI2017-366) and Bimberi Wilderness Area (NI2017-412).
    • Work commenced on the refresh of the existing ACT Planning Strategy. The review will assess how the ACT Planning Strategy can deliver key government priorities, including economic growth and diversification, suburban renewal and better transport, and enhancing liveability and social inclusion (NI 2018-79).
    • A review of the Lakes Act 1976 was finalised to ensure provisions relating to drugs and alcohol and the safe operation of water vessels are contemporary and consistent with other jurisdictions. The supporting Regulations to enable operation of the amendments are being developed. The Lakes Amendment Bill 2017 was passed 22 February 2018.
    • The review of the Contaminated Sites Environment Protection Policy was finalised in December 2017. The review ensures the policy reflects current best practice nationally and relevant changes made to the Environment Protection Act 1997 during its review in 2014.
    • The review of the Air Environment Protection Policy began, including standards for industrial emissions including odour.
    • Development began on the Waste Stockpile Guidelines through the establishment of a cross-directorate working group that includes ACT NOWaste, the EPA and Health Protection Services.
    • Petroleum Storage Guidelines Review commenced to ensure it reflects current best practice.
    • An update to the Environment Protection Guidelines for Construction and Land Development in the ACT was being finalised.
    • Provided policy support to the Minister, senior officials and associated working groups under the Meeting of Environment Ministers/National Environment Protection Council structure.
    • Contributed to a number of COAG harmonisation initiatives and implementation of National Environment Protection Measures (under the National Environment Protection Council Act 1994) and national committees, including:
      • the National Chemicals Working Group, which was tasked by Heads of EPAs Australia and New Zealand with developing the Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances National Environment Management Plan, finalised in December 2017, and associated future work program.
      • intergovernmental agreement on a national framework for responding to PFAS contamination finalised in March 2018.
      • the national Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Task Group to progress the implementation of COAG's agreed National Control of Use Framework for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals.
      • development of the National Chemicals Management and Standards to ensure the potential impact on the environment from industrial chemicals is subject to appropriate risk assessment and management.
        • Led the development of a Regulatory Officer Capability Framework through the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcements and Regulators neTwork. This framework was launched in February 2018.
        • Continued work on the Improving the ACT Building Regulatory System reforms.
        • Commenced consultation on reforms to improve the safety of existing home swimming pools in the Territory.
        • Initiated the review of the ACT's scheme for the mandatory disclosure of energy efficiency ratings and work on options to improve the energy efficiency of rental housing in the ACT.
        • Contributed to national projects affecting building and construction including:
          • the Building Ministers' Forum Senior Officials Group working on policy for non-conforming and non-complying building products
          • the Australian Building Codes Board and Building Codes Committee work to:
            • develop the 2019 National Construction Code
            • investigate minimum accessibility/universal design standards, and
            • review fire safety standards
        • work under the National Energy Productivity Plan on energy efficiency standards for buildings.

    Strategic Objective 4: Leading the Community Towards Making Canberra a Net Zero Carbon Emitter

    In 2017–18 the Directorate delivered the following key outputs:

    • The Directorate increased business and community understanding of climate change risks, vulnerability and resilience, and the actions individuals and businesses can take, through consultation on the ACT's Climate Strategy to a Net Zero Emissions Territory discussion paper, which was available from December 2017 to April 2018. The discussion paper included advice from the Climate Change Council on net zero and interim emissions reduction targets. Feedback on the discussion paper overwhelmingly supported strong action to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change impacts.
    • The Directorate continued to deliver the ACT's 100% by 2020 renewable electricity target, supported the uptake of batteries by households and small businesses through the $25 million Next Generation Energy Storage program, implemented a range of initiatives to support renewable energy businesses, and contributed to local and national energy policy development.
    • Under the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS), more than 124,000 energy saving items were installed in 3521 households and businesses. EEIS is currently legislated until December 2020.
    • The Actsmart suite of programs supported businesses, schools, households and the community to increase energy and water efficiency, reduce waste and take action on climate change. Actsmart supported the community to understand and mitigate emissions.
    • Through its Climate Buddy role, the Directorate led the whole-of-government implementation of the ACT Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, particularly the climate risk assessments for each directorate's assets. The Carbon Neutral Government (CNG) program is working across the ACT Public Service to achieve carbon neutrality in government operations by 2020. The CNG Fund, which provides interest-free loans for energy efficiency and emission reduction projects, supported four projects to the value of approximately $1.8 million in 2017–18, with more projects ready for implementation in 2018–19.

    Strategic Indicator 4.1: Implement policies to achieve the ACT Government's target of net zero carbon emissions in the ACT by 2050 at the latest and in government operations from 2020.

    The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

    • The ACT committed to a nation-leading target of achieving net zero emissions by 2045 (previously 2050), with a series of interim targets to provide a pathway to that date:
      • 50–60% below 1990 levels by 2025
      • 65–75% below 1990 levels by 2030
      • 90–95% below 1990 levels by 2040.
    • A discussion paper, ACT's Climate Change Strategy to a Net Zero Emissions Territory, was released to inform the development of a new climate strategy for the ACT. The paper asked the community for feedback on reducing emissions in key sectors including transport, energy, industry, waste and land use. It highlighted the importance of behavioural change in the community to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change impacts.
    • The ACT's Transition to Zero Emissions Vehicles Action Plan 2018–21 was launched. The plan outlines the actions government will take to encourage the rapid uptake of zero emissions vehicles in the ACT. This work complements a broader suite of work to promote active travel, increase use of public transport and reduce emissions from public transport as well as private vehicles. This work will help to ensure Canberra remains a highly sustainable and liveable city.
    • Implementation of the CNG Framework and administration of the CNG Fund continued, assisting agencies to reduce emissions from government operations. The fund supported four projects, with approximately $1.8 million allocated towards renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Projects included lighting upgrades, heating, ventilation and cooling upgrades, smart building management systems, and an off grid solar photovoltaic system connected to battery storage.
    • The EEIS continued to reduce electricity demand and therefore carbon emissions associated with stationary use of energy in the ACT. An independent review of the EEIS in 2018 found the EEIS had delivered 390 ktCO2–e of lifetime emissions reduction by the end of 2017, directly contributing towards the net zero 2050 target. The review found that the benefits of the scheme outweighed the costs by a ratio of 4:1. In the 2017–18 financial year, more than 124,000 energy saving items were installed in 3521 households and businesses in the ACT. These figures include an Energy Efficiency Improvements in Public Housing Pilot Program that replaced 240 old, inefficient heaters with new highly efficient systems. These heating upgrades are expected to reduce emissions by 7900 tCO2–e.
    • Delivery of the Actsmart suite of programs continued to support businesses, households, schools and the community to reduce emissions through increased energy and water efficiency and sustainable waste management.
    • The Community Zero Emissions Grants Program was launched, with $150,000 available for eligible community groups and sponsored individuals to lead initiatives that support the net zero carbon emissions target. Round one of the program targeted innovative projects across the energy, transport, building, land use and waste sectors that focus on improved sustainability and environmental outcomes, along with effective engagement with the community. Six projects received $140,000 in funding.
    • The no-gas trial in Stage One of the Ginninderry development was established to test the viability of all-electric utilities in a Canberra residential suburb. If successful, the trial could lead to a major reduction of infrastructure costs in developing new suburbs as well as greenhouse gas emissions given ACT electricity will be 100% renewable from 2020. As part of this trial, the Directorate prepared and released Territory Plan Draft Variation No.356 – Amendments to West Belconnen Concept Plan, Stage 1 Ginninderry Estate (DV356) for public consultation. DV356 proposes to vary the West Belconnen Concept Plan by making the provision of gas utility services to blocks in Stage 1 of Ginninderry Estate, West Belconnen, an optional rather than a mandatory requirement. This supports the ACT Government's policy commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest.
    • Continuing progress toward achieving 100% renewable electricity supply by 2020 is a core element of meeting the net zero emissions target. Achievements in this area are discussed under Strategic Indicator 4.2
    • Through the Renewables Innovation Hub, a collaborative co-working space in Canberra's renewables precinct, the Directorate supported 74 entrepreneurs through 25 businesses, and hosted 98 industry events.
    • Nearly $1.2 million in grant funding was awarded for renewable energy innovation projects. Successful proponents are developing new technologies and services in relation to hydrogen fuel cells, solar concentrators, solar resource prediction, battery control systems, and smart sensors, extending the ACT's high value-added renewable energy capabilities.
    • The ANU was supported to establish its new research program on battery storage and grid integration. The program will provide national leadership in relation to battery chemistry and materials, data and analytics, control systems and markets and regulation.

    Strategic Indicator 4.2: Growth in renewable electricity generation.

    The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

    • Recorded renewable electricity supply for the ACT is equal to about half of the Territory's total electricity demand, putting the ACT on track to achieve 100% renewable electricity supply by 2020.
    • The completion of the 100 megawatt large feed-in tariff supported Sapphire Wind Farm was signed off, which meant four of the seven wind farms supported under the large feed-in tariff scheme have been completed along with all three of the solar farms supported under the scheme. The scheme's final generator will begin large feed-in tariff supported generation in October 2019.
    • The installation of 69.63 megawatts of rooftop solar photovoltaic generation capacity in the ACT by June 2018 was up from 66.7 megawatts installed by June 2017. This capacity is supported by both the ACT small-medium feed-in tariff scheme and retailer solar support schemes.
    • Around 690 household battery systems were supported through the Next Generation Energy Storage program, bringing the total to around 860 since the announcement of the program. The program aims to support the roll-out of 36 megawatts of distributed battery storage in up to 5000 ACT businesses and homes by 2020, and is one of the largest such schemes in the world. The program is anticipated to bring savings of $60 to $220 million in network infrastructure costs to the ACT and its residents.
    • The Institute of Public Administration Australia awarded the Directorate with an 'Innovative Solutions' award for its reverse auction development, describing the ACT's reverse auctions as 'a novel policy to promote renewable energy investment'.

    Strategic Objective 5: Improve the liveability of our cities and build on the character of our communities through strategic and sustainable release and renewal of land

    Each year the government prepares and publishes a four-year program of land release designed to make sure enough land is released to the market to cater for Canberra's growth and deliver on our strategic planning directions for building a sustainable, compact, well connected city.

    In 2017–18 the land release program:

    • enabled urban renewal and the activation of the gateway to the city centre with significant Asset Recycling Initiative releases in Braddon, Turner and Red Hill
    • marked the completion of releases in the Tuggeranong Town Centre that were first identified in the 2012 master plan to support businesses and increase local employment
    • supported housing diversity and affordable housing choices with continuing greenfield releases in Gungahlin and Molonglo and the first releases in Canberra's newest greenfield front, the West Belconnen estate of Ginninderry.
    • supported the ACT's economy and employment with industrial releases in Hume and the release of mixed use land in a number of sites that will permit retail uses and office space.

    Strategic Indicator 5.1: Delivery of the government's land release program.

    The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

    • Released:
      • 4309 residential dwelling sites
      • 97,161m2 of mixed use land area
      • 1621m2 of commercial land
      • 24,538m2 of industrial land and
      • 139,429m2 of community land.
    • Significant sites released as part of the Asset Recycling Initiative included former public housing properties in Braddon, Turner, Reid and Red Hill. In particular, the Braddon and Turner sites front Northbourne Avenue and will support activation of a key urban renewal corridor along the light rail network.
    • Greenfield releases continued in the Gungahlin suburbs of Taylor and Throsby, the Molonglo Valley suburbs of Coombs and Wright, and in the west of Belconnen suburb of Strathnairn. Overall, 432 single residential dwelling sites, 233 compact blocks and medium density dwelling sites and 3644 multi-unit dwelling sites were released.
    • The government met and exceeded its target for residential dwelling sites released and the mixed-use and community land releases. However, the Commercial Program was impacted by a decision to shift several releases to future years. The decision resulted from new information, which essentially considered that either changes to planning controls or a different approach to market could lead to a better outcome for the release of commercial sites. The affected commercial sites are in Moncrieff, Wanniassa and the Belconnen town centre.
    • The ongoing Eastern Broadacre Strategic Assessment process continues to have an impact the release of new supply of Industrial Mixed Use land in new estates, resulting in the forecast release in Symonston shifted to future years. The remaining inventory of General Industrial land is in the Hume estate and is programmed for release through to 2019–20.

    Strategic Indicator 5.2: Assets recycled in line with the Commonwealth Government's Asset Recycling Initiative.

    The Directorate met this strategic indicator in the following ways:

    • The coordination of Asset Recycling Initiative (ARI) site land releases continued, allowing the finalisation of the agreed program by June 2019. The Directorate progressed this work in close consultation with Treasury, the City Renewal Authority, the Suburban Land Agency, the Public Housing Renewal Taskforce and Housing ACT. 2 In particular, the Directorate's coordination facilitated:
      • sale settlement on a number of ARI sites including Bega Court in Reid and Dickson Flats, Karuah Garden Flats, Dame Pattie Menzies Building and the former Dickson Motor Registry site in Dickson
      • conclusion of the Red Hill Estate Development Plan process, which was driven by community engagement, allowing the precinct to be released to the market for expected sale in 2018–19
      • market release of the Northbourne Flat sites—Braddon and Turner
      • finalisation of due diligence and works to enable market releases and sales in 2018–19 on ARI sites including Stuart Flats in Griffith, Gowrie Court in Narrabundah, Strathgordon Court in Lyons, and Macarthur House in Lyneham
      • Treasury reporting to the Australian Government for the claim of bonus payments against ARI sales.

    Output Classes

    The following section discusses the Directorate's performance by output class. Outputs classes for 2017–18:

    • Planning Delivery
    • Planning Policy
    • Heritage
    • Environment
    • Climate Change and Sustainability
    • Conservation and Land Management
    • Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme
    • Land Policy
    • Urban Renewal

    Planning Delivery

    The Planning Delivery Division is responsible for administering development assessment processes in the Territory, including environmental impact assessments, administration of the leasehold system and the Office of the Surveyor-General.

    Officers within the Planning Delivery Division perform functions under delegation from the planning and land authority. The planning and land authority experienced a 25% increase in development applications (DA) and estate development plans during the year. Furthermore, development applications of increasing complexity are being submitted as mixed-use developments are proposed for the city, town and local centres. An increase in development applications in town and suburban centres led to increasing community interest in developments.

    The Division is working with proponents and the community to meet the needs of our growing city, respond to the urban renewal occurring across the city and town centres and deliver good planning outcomes for our city.

    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.

    During the year, 1390 land parcels (blocks) were registered, comprising 1232 greenfields blocks, 130 infill blocks, 12 rural blocks and 16 head-lease blocks. The primary greenfield estates were the suburbs of Denman Prospect and Taylor.

    The Surveyor-General also has responsibility for ACT Place Names, allocating addresses, ACTmapi and other map-based technologies.

    ACTmapi

    ACTmapi is the ACT Government's interactive mapping service that provides many fascinating and informative maps as diverse as development, heritage, emergency services, dog parks, aircraft noise and vegetation types.

    In April 2018, the new Aerial Imagery map was released, showing the black and white imagery from 1955 covering the urban area from Lyneham to Garran. The map allows searches and downloads of imagery from 1990–98, with more historical and new imagery to be added. Apart from their historical interest, the images can be used to understand changes to the land and the environment to help with development planning.

    The ACT schools map, which went live on ACTmapi in April 2018, provides information about public and non-government schools in the ACT. Users can find information on ACT public schools with Priority Enrolment Areas (PEAs) by an address or school name. Information about PEAs and enrolling can be found at www.education.act.gov.au

    Survey control

    The new National Datum of Australia, GDA2020, was gazetted in October 2017. The Directorate supplied geodetic survey data to the project, including observations on approximately 750 survey control stations and more than 2500 observed lines. Transformation parameters from the Stromlo Grid were developed in accordance with the GDA2020 Implementation Plan. The GDA2020 control network was extended into Weston Creek and Woden Valley.

    As part of a joint project with NSW Spatial Services, the Directorate continued to monitor and maintain the ACT's Continuously Operating Reference Stations. The CORS-NET system enables precise GNSS (GPS) location determination as required by surveyors, precision agriculture, civil construction and autonomous vehicles.

    Cadastre and addressing

    The office is involved with developments of cadastral land and units at different stages:

    • Processed 81 Authorised Plans including
      Mt Majura Estate, North Coombs, North Wright, Red Hill Precinct, Strathnairn Stage 1 and Taylor 2 Estate
    • Checked and data based 120 unit plans
    • Allocated and processed 122 addressing requests (for multi-unit sites)
    • Processed 75 licence creation requests
    • Checked and processed 14 place name gazettals
    • Processed 20 road opening/closure notifiable instruments
    • Processed 198 deposited plan and unit plan registrations
    • Continuing checking and de-assigning corner block unused 2nd address
    • Created Macnamara and Strathnairn Division boundaries. Amended Jacka and Taylor Division boundaries
    Place names

    The office provides the secretariat for the ACT Place Names Committee. The current committee was appointed for three years on 1 October 2017 by the Minister for Planning and Land Management. The committee met twice to oversee the naming of 104 public place names, including roads, two parks and one bridge.

    The first streets in the new Belconnen division of Strathnairn commemorate the theme of Primary Industry and Regional Service, with the main access road commemorating artist Pro Hart for his significant service to regional Australia. The community was directly engaged in the naming of Henry Rolland Park in Acton, with the park officially opened in the presence of Sir Henry Rolland's family.

    The Place Names Unit continued to consult families and professional organisations for permission to commemorate the names of deceased relatives and colleagues, and to consult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the commemoration of words from indigenous languages. The unit provided advice to agencies about the naming of buildings, government schools and private roads.

    Development application leasing

    The DA Leasing Section is responsible for:

    • answering enquiries on development assessment leasing matters
    • assessing code and merit track applications that seek to vary a Crown lease
    • undertaking lease variation charge (LVC) assessments and determinations
    • applications to determine the concessional status of leases
    • applications to deconcessionalise leases
    • all post-DA leasing advice processes and customer liaison.

    During the year, 239 lease variation applications were lodged, including 112 that were lease variations only (i.e. no physical works).

    Post-approval leasing

    Post-approval leasing processes include assessing and determining LVC, drafting and checking instruments, drafting new Crown leases and attendance at the Land Titles Office for all parts of the process.

    The section determined LVC for 207 developments with a financial value of $15,830,445. This was seven more than 2016–17. The team registered 159 lease variation instruments, an increase of 14.4%. Two reconsiderations of LVC determinations were lodged and determined, one application more than 2016–17.

    Concessional leases

    The section manages the determination of Crown leases as concessional or market value and the DA process to remove the concessional status of a Crown lease. This process requires briefing the Minister for Planning and Land Management, who must determine it is in the public interest for the planning and land authority to consider a DA to remove the concessional status of a lease.

    Twenty-one determinations on the concessional status of leases were made, an increase from 16 determined in 2016–17. Two applications were determined to remove the concessional status of their Crown leases, specifically Block5 Section 30 Pearce and Block 2 Section 61 Curtin.

    Leasing services

    The Leasing Services Team provides a range of services to government, industry and the general community including:

    • granting and administering Crown leases and licences of 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
    • processing applications for land rent payouts and surrender of rental leases
    • rent re-appraisals and compensation for lessee-owned improvements.

    Development assessment

    The Development Assessment Section conducts its functions in accordance with merit and impact tracks, the two main assessment tracks identified in the P&D Act.

    Pre-DA Community Consultation Guidelines

    The Directorate developed, consulted on and implemented guidelines under the Planning and Development Act 2007 (P&D Act) that outline how proponents of major developments in Canberra need to consult with the community prior to lodging a DA. Consultation on the draft guidelines was primarily positive and led to important additions to the final guidelines. The final Pre-DA Community Consultation Guidelines were made by the Chief Planning Executive on 8 November 2017 and are compulsory for certain development types prescribed in the Planning and Development Regulation 2008.

    DAs with a lease variation component lodged and approved between 2010 and 2017:
    DAs2010-112011-122012-132013-142014-152015-162016–172017–18Average
    Lodged 271 111 165 104 215 254 243 239 187
    Approved 272 236 139 103 161 243 209 105 183
    Lease Variation only 189 171 80 58 95 115 107 112 116
    Lease variation charge:
    SectionDeterminedPaidRemissionsWaivers
    276E 135 108 2 Commissioner for social housing remission. 6 partial waiver at 55%
    1 at 75%
    1 at 100%
    277 68 60 5 Economic stimulus 25%
    10 Economic stimulus 25% and sustainability 25% of charge
    1 Economic stimulus 25, increase 25% under s 180 of the Regulation
    0
    276E/277 4 2 1 Economic stimulus
    1 Economic Stimulus, 25%
    Sustainability 25% of charge
    0
    Leasing services data:
    Further leases Executive leases Rent re-appraisals1 Land rent payouts Other subleases and transfers
    Received 65 Offered 4 Processed 41 Received 490 Received 161 Received 42
    Executed 71 Granted 4   Approved 476 Executed 207 Approved 34
    1s 298 – Transfer of a Crown lease containing time frames to build on undeveloped land.
    Section 303 Licences1 Section 303 Licences telecommunications Motor Vehicle Licence Advice LiquorLicence Advice Purpose Clause Interpretations
    Received 45 Received 0 Processed 11 Processed 112 Processed 64
    Executed 40 Executed 0    
    1s 303 – Licences over unleased Territory land, including encroachments.
    Community title and unit title:
    Community title applications Unit title applications
    Received 0 Received 120
    Approved 0 Approved 129
    Registered 1 Registered 118
    Rural leasing:
    Land withdrawal Grazing licences Further lease offersAcquisitions
    Requested 4 Executed 41 Offered 2 Requested 0
    Completed 2   Executed 2 Completed 0
    Impact assessment

    The Impact Assessment Team is responsible for:

    • preparing scoping documents for Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)
    • assessing and preparing advice to the Minister on EIS
    • assessing and preparing advice to the Minister on requests for exemptions from the preparation of an EIS under section 211 of the P&D Act
    • administering public consultation on draft EIS and EIS exemption applications
    • processing and issuing Environmental Significance Opinions (ESO)
    • preparing responses to referrals received under the Commonwealth EPBC Act
    • administering the bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and the ACT under the EPBC Act
    • assessing impact track DAs
    • assessing merit track DAs where an ESO has been previously given under section 138AA of the P&D Act.

    The section also manages the monitoring and reporting functions for strategic assessments approved under the EPBC Act for the urban development of the Gungahlin and Molonglo districts.

    Seven impact track DAs were approved for projects including the redevelopment of service stations and industrial sites, and the duplication of Horse Park Drive. Forty-one ESOs were issued, many for utility infrastructure or public works in reserves, which were assessed as being unlikely to have a significant adverse environmental impact.

    In relation to environmental assessment, three EIS scoping documents were issued, with five EIS exemptions granted for proposals that had already undergone environmental impact assessment in other recent studies: two proposals to remove underground storage tanks from ACT Government industrial land; the Molonglo Stage 3 Development; a Kaleen service station redevelopment; and a mixed-use development in Kingston.

    An EIS process was completed for a liquid waste facility and depot in Hume, and the planning and land authority conducted public consultation for two draft EIS processes: for a materials recovery facility in Fyshwick; and for the ACT's Second Electricity Supply project in West Belconnen. The environmental assessment of these proposals will be ongoing next year.

    Dangerous Substances Amendments

    The Directorate progressed legislative amendments to the P&D Act in relation to the storage of dangerous substances. These amendments, made in response to the Mitchell chemical fire in 2011, make the storage of dangerous substances a land use that requires development approval, and ensure the planning framework will require assessment of storage facilities and warehouses where substantial quantities of dangerous goods will be stored. The changes allow the government to consider the location of dangerous substances in relation to other land uses such as schools, homes and community facilities. A communications and engagement strategy was delivered to ensure existing and new businesses were aware of the new requirements and eligible for exemptions by being listed on the dangerous substances register.

    The new requirements came into effect on 29 March 2018.

    Merit assessment and estates

    The Merit Assessment Section is responsible for merit track applications under Chapter 7 of the Planning and Development Act. The section also determines exemption declaration applications under section 1.100A of the Planning and Development Regulation.

    The section received 1216 merit track DAs, an increase of 24% on 2016–17. Determinations were made within statutory timeframes for 64% of these applications.

    The section assessed a wide range of complex mixed-use DAs, the most notable being:

    • Block 1 Section 96 City (DA201630592): a mixed-use development comprising commercial retail units at ground and first floor levels, a 10-storey office tower above retail floors and a 12-storey residential (246 units)/commercial accommodation (180 units) above retail floors. (Estimated cost of works $214,400,880)
    • Block 2 Section 200 Belconnen (DA201731646): a mixed-use development consisting of five buildings ranging from 14 to 28 storeys and including approximately 1200 apartments, 135 hotel rooms and podium parking, commercial and retail uses, associated landscaping and other site and off-site works. (Estimated cost of works $158,453,872)
    • Blocks 5 and 6 Section 35 Phillip (DA201731595): a mixed-use development comprising two towers (up to 18 and 26 storeys) on a podium, 430 units and associated landscaping, off-site verge and access works. (Estimated cost of works $100,000,000)
    • Block 34 Section 52 Belconnen (DA201629672): a 13-storey mixed-use development consisting of commercial space at ground level and associated works. (Estimated cost of works $24,588,750)
    • Blocks 7, 8 and 9 Section 18 Braddon (DA201630974): a 9-storey mixed-use development with basement parking, commercial uses, a 180-room hotel with ancillary facilities, 241 residential units, associated landscaping and other site and off-site works. (Estimated cost of works $79,391,431).
    • Block 2 Section 64 Watson (DA201630707): three staged construction of 319 residential/mixed-use buildings comprising apartments, 'terrace style' townhouses, commercial space and other site and off-site works. (Estimated cost of works $70,621,275)
    • Block 8 Section 77 Dickson (DA201733041): a six-storey office building with a café, an 8-storey building with 144 serviced apartments, 90-place childcare centre, retail and commercial space, basement parking, associated landscaping and other site works. (Estimated cost of works $69,098,872)
    • Block 4 Section 209 Gungahlin (DA201732990): a 15-storey mixed-use development comprising 167 residential apartments, ground floor commercial, basement parking and associated off-site works. (Estimated cost of works $36,384,670)

    The section approved estate development plans providing for the creation of approximately 1425 single dwelling and 66 multi-unit and mixed-use blocks, three community facility blocks and one CZ4 local centre block. This enabled the release of approximately 3123 dwellings. Key estate development plans (EDPs) approved included:

    • West Belconnen (Ginninderry): EDP for the subdivision of 296 single dwelling blocks and 20 multi-unit blocks capable of accommodating a maximum of 60 dwellings, public open space including the creation of a linear park, dog park and community gardens, and associated roads, services, public infrastructure and landscaping.
    • North Coombs: EDP for the creation of 71 single dwelling blocks, nine multi-unit blocks capable of accommodating a maximum of 356 dwellings, associated roads, open spaces, shared paths, an equestrian trail, infrastructure, utility services, landscaping, verge works and off-site works.
    • North Wright: EDP for the creation of 212 single dwelling blocks, four multi-unit blocks capable of accommodating a maximum of 213 dwellings, two community facility sites, associated roads, urban open spaces, a playground, shared paths, an equestrian trail, utility services, landscaping, verge works and off-site works.
    • Taylor 2: EDP for the creation of 846 single dwelling blocks and 26 multi-unit blocks capable of accommodating a maximum of 663 dwellings, a CZ4 Local Centre block, a community Facility block and two CZ5 mixed-use blocks, public open spaces including two neighbourhood playgrounds, roads and associated paths, open space path networks, landscaping, earthworks, utility connections, water courses and bodies.

    The Minister for Planning decided the development application for Block 15 Section 15 Griffith (DA201731693) for the construction of a broadcast and media facility at Manuka Oval, associated fencing, landscaping and other works, and off-site works.

    Deed management

    Deed Management's key responsibilities relate to the management of holding leases and deeds of agreement for both greenfield and urban infill 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 continued to foster 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, other directorates and relevant service agencies.

    Of particular note was the delivery of sites in the Northbourne Avenue corridor, integrating with impending Territory Plan variations, policies, heritage significance and coordination with the light rail project.

    The increase in the number of new deeds prepared and taken to the market place continues an upward trend from the previous year.

    The work program included:

    • deeds of agreement prepared responding to the land release strategy and a DA notice of decision:
      • Two involved meeting the Commonwealth initiative timeframes for the Territory to renew its public housing and office assets.
      • One was for greenfield development.
      • Six deeds are expected to be initiated for preparation in 2018–19.
      • the ongoing management and administration of current deeds:
      • Two deeds were completed, having achieved final certification.
      • Ten deeds were executed, making a total of 50 deeds under current management.
      • 312 consequential leases were issued to private sector land developers from a holding lease, representing a six-fold increase in leases issued to the private sector due to the ongoing completion of works in private sector development.
      • 513 consequential leases were issued to the Suburban Land Agency including multi-unit leases (not dwellings). This represents a 20% increase in leases issued for public land development projects. It does not include the re-issue of approximately 56 leases handed back to the Suburban Land Agency for re-sale as result of lessee details changing prior to settlement.

    The number of consequential leases issued (825) represents an approximate 74% increase on the number of leases issued in 2016–17.

    SLA leases Private development leases
    513 312

    The DA Gateway Team

    The DA Gateway Team was established in 2016 to provide support to the development assessment teams and provide a single point of contact for industry and the community for all development related matters in the ACT. The team is responsible for all pre-lodgement processes including pre-application meetings, completeness checks for new DAs and providing administrative support for the exemption declaration process. This year, the team also took responsibility for the leasing component of completeness checks on a trial basis.

    The DA Gateway Team:

    • completed 2313 DA completeness checks, with an average time of 6.1 days; the first time failure rate for completeness was 77%
    • held 202 pre-application meetings
    • determined 968 exemption declarations
    • answered 5318 customer enquiries over the phone, in writing (with enquiries being submitted via an online form) and over the counter; this does not include enquiries related to exemption declarations.

    ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) coordination

    The planning and land authority participates in ACAT, an important forum for stakeholders to appeal decisions made under the Planning and Development Act.

    ACAT made 21 decisions on development application appeals during the year. Of these, 18 supported the authority's position with 13 being consent decisions based on mediated outcomes.

    Forward Priorities

    • Implement and review improved processes to manage development assessment
    • Progress the 12 month review of the Pre DA consultation guidelines
    • Assist with the review and upgrade of the Directorate's Spatial Data Management System with respect to 3D and 4D spatial data, electronic plan lodgement and datum modernisation.
    • Continue to improve the user experience of ACTmapi by publishing user guides

    For further information contact:

    Brett Phillips
    Executive Director, Planning Delivery
    02 6207 3520
    Brett.Phillips@act.gov.au

    Planning Policy

    The Planning Policy Division successfully undertook numerous planning and strategic land use management studies and initiatives in support of creating "sustainable, compact and liveable neighbourhoods..."3. The City and Gateway Urban Renewal Strategy, the ACT Planning Strategy Refresh and an integrated approach to planning Section 72 Dickson were this year's flagship projects.

    The following papers, documents and projects commenced or progressed during the year.

    Housing Choices and the Collaboration Hub

    The Directorate has three interrelated projects on housing choices:

    • Housing Choices policy development
    • Housing Choices Collaboration Hub
    • Demonstration Housing (managed by Suburban Land Authority)

    These projects bring together a range of activities that seek to better understand and inform government policy about the future housing needs of Canberra. They support whole-of-government priorities including housing choices, demonstration projects and urban renewal. These projects will inform the ACT Government's Housing Strategy, due to be completed later in 2018.

    Housing Choices and the Collaboration Hub have been a major focus of the Division's work. They encompassed a collaborative, innovative and informed approach to community engagement. A discussion paper in November 2017 started a conversation on "how the government can better meet the housing needs of our constituents".

    The community could share their views in various ways, including workshops, online surveys, social media and kiosk displays at various locations across Canberra.

    Results of this community engagement were published in the Housing Choices Discussion Paper Community Engagement Report (May 2018), which informed the second stage of community engagement between May and August 2018, including a Collaboration Hub.

    The Housing Choices Collaboration Hub comprised 35 Canberra citizens who met to discuss "Canberra is changing – and there are many different ways our housing needs can be met. What do we need to do?" The Hub met five times between May and June 2018.

    Highlights

    The Collaboration Hub will present its report of recommendations to the Minister for Planning and Land Management in July 2018.

    City and Gateway Urban Design Framework

    The City and Gateway Urban Design Framework is setting new guidance for development and growth in the city centre and along the gateway corridor of Northbourne Avenue and the Federal Highway. The Framework celebrates Canberra's unique landscape character and places high value on human-scale public spaces, supporting the Planning Minister's Statement of Planning Intent action to 'deliver high quality public spaces and streets through placemaking'.

    Implementation of the City and Gateway Urban Design Framework involves changes to planning controls in the National Capital Authority's National Capital Plan and the ACT's Territory Plan for the arterial corridor and city centre. The Territory Plan draft variation package has three elements:

  1. Precinct Codes, including a new Northbourne Avenue Corridor Precinct Code and amendments to nine existing codes
  2. Design guide for apartments and attached housing
  3. A technical report to support the changes to the Territory Plan, which will enable the implementation of the framework.

New outcome driven, performance based planning controls, accompanied by a design guide, have been drafted to support design excellence and innovation, and will improve the design qualities of development in the ACT. Initially, the new controls will be piloted in the city centre and gateway corridor.

When completed and adopted, the Territory Plan variations will enable more people to live and work in the city. They aim to deliver a "Liveable and competitive Canberra attracting investment and talent within an outcome-focussed planning system".3b

Highlights:

  • City and Gateway Draft Urban Design Framework released for Stage 2 public consultation.
  • Stage 2 public consultation and analysis completed.
  • Design guide commissioned and in draft form.

3D Canberra

The 3D Canberra planning tool enables planners and designers to perform interactive, live, human-scale experimental analysis in an accurate 3D Canberra city context. 3D Canberra is improving the way we understand and review complex planning and development scenarios across the city, especially in areas that are experiencing urban renewal, such as existing town centres and along major public transport routes. The development of 3D Canberra is ongoing.

Highlights:

  • Additions to 3D Canberra in 2017–18 included a 2018 aerial imagery update to the environment and extending the city model to the City Renewal Authority's jurisdiction.

Master Plan Program

The Master Plan program responds to the government's strategy to create a more compact, efficient city by focusing urban intensification in town centres, group centres and along the major public transport routes. Through place-specific investigation, the program undertakes strategic planning for areas undergoing change by responding to the changing needs and priorities of the community.

The master plans identify outcomes, principles and opportunities to manage urban change, consistent with the government's strategic priorities while retaining the key values of each specific area. The program consists of 15 master plans over five years to guide growth and investment in our centres as a key action of the 2012 ACT Planning Strategy.

Twelve master plans have been completed, with Territory Plan variations being prepared to translate each master plan into the regulatory framework of the Territory Plan. The Kippax Group Centre Master Plan, Curtin Group Centre Master Plan and Tharwa Village Plan are to be presented to government early in the next financial year.

Highlights:

  • The ACT Government established a community panel process to discuss the development and redevelopment opportunities for the Kippax and Curtin group centres, particularly in relation to new development and redevelopment for each area.
  • The community panel process in the second half of 2017 discussed the development and redevelopment opportunities for the Kippax and Curtin group centres.
  • This community panel process informed changes to the draft master plans that were tested with the community through an additional round of engagement.

ACT Planning Strategy Refresh 2018

The 2012 Planning Strategy sets out the long-term policy and goals to provide for the orderly and sustainable development of the ACT. Every five years the ACT Government is required to consider whether the strategy should be reviewed. The decision to review, made in October 2017, acknowledged that much of the 2012 strategy remains relevant but that changes Canberra is experiencing need to be integrated into the strategy, notably light rail, ongoing urban renewal and a growing population.

The ACT Planning Strategy Refresh 2018 takes into account key government priorities such as:

  • achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the ACT by 2045
  • providing increased housing choice and affordability
  • delivering improved and integrated public transport and active travel.

The Refresh is building on the direction set in the 2012 Strategy to better integrate with the key areas of climate change, transport and housing policy, all of which have strategies concurrently in development.

Engagement with the Canberra community began in June 2018 through a series of 'speaker sessions'. Leading speakers were invited to stimulate conversations about the challenges facing Canberra's compact city future, contemporary urban design, supporting infrastructure, the bush capital image, and other planning and urban design topics.

Highlights:

  • The innovative 'speaker series' enriched local conversations about future planning policy issues through contributions from key national and international subject matter experts.

Territory Plan variations

The Territory Plan section consults on, and recommends changes to, the Territory Plan to implement key policy decisions of the ACT Government. Variations to the Territory Plan are made in accordance with the Planning and Development Act 2007 (P&D Act), which requires ministerial approval for major policy changes. The planning and land authority may approve technical amendments.

The National Capital Authority is consulted on Territory Plan variations with a view to confirming that proposed changes are not inconsistent with the National Capital Plan.

Five Territory Plan draft variations (DVs) are incorporating the recommendations of master plans into the Territory Plan:

  • DV329 Weston group centre
  • DV342 Belconnen town centre
  • DV344 Woden town centre
  • DV345 Mawson group centre
  • DV328 Oaks Estate is on hold awaiting the result of contamination studies

Another four DVs are underway:

  • DV350 Changes to the definition of 'single dwelling block'
  • DV357 End-of-trip facilities
  • DV358 Applying development restrictions on Wright Section 29 Block 3
  • DV356 Introducing a provision regarding gas infrastructure for Stage 1 West Belconnen Ginninderry

DV352 commenced in May 2018, making changes to various development tables, codes and definitions.

Highlights:

  • Town and group centre master plans continued to be incorporated into the Territory Plan with Territory Plan DVs prepared for Mawson, Woden, Belconnen and Weston.
  • DVs for end-of-trip facilities and Oaks Estate were ongoing.
  • DVs were ongoing for changes to the definition of 'single dwelling block'; applying development restrictions on Wright Section 29 Block 3; and introducing a provision regarding gas infrastructure for Stage 1 of West Belconnen Ginninderry.
  • DVs commenced for changes to various development tables, codes and definitions.
  • 13 administrative technical amendments and six substantive technical amendments were commenced.

Technical Amendments to the Territory Plan

Technical amendments (TAs) allow the Directorate to make minor changes to the Territory Plan, including clerical, routine, language, technical, operational and minor policy updates. TAs are broadly grouped into two categories: administrative TAs that do not require public consultation; and substantive TAs that are required to be publicly notified for a minimum of 20 working days under the P&D Act.

Thirteen administrative TAs commenced, including miscellaneous, boundary or overlay changes and future urban area uplift (where land ceases to be in a future urban area). Six substantive TAs commenced, including for code and clarification amendments to the Territory Plan.

National Airports Safeguarding Framework

The Directorate continues to represent the ACT Government on the interjurisdictional National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group, chaired by the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.

Highlights:

  • The group, which is responsible for the National Airports Safeguarding Framework, released a new guideline, updated an existing guideline and drafted one new guideline this year.
  • The National Airports Safeguarding Framework aims to ensure current and future operations of airports are protected in land use planning and development decisions in the vicinity of airports.

National Capital Design Review Panel

The Directorate established the interim National Capital Design Review Panel (NCDRP) in 2017 to independently review and provide professional urban design advice to improve the quality of buildings, estate developments, landscapes and public spaces. The interim NCDRP includes a panel of experienced, multi-disciplinary members who provide expert urban design advice to decision makers, developers and their design teams.

Highlights:

  • Interim NCDRP provided advice for seven major projects over 12 design review sessions.
  • Matters considered included development proposals in Woden town centre, the city centre and for major development facing main avenues.
  • The Directorate has engaged with industry with regard to the interim NCDRP and future steps to establish the formal NCDRP.

Section 72 Dickson

The Section 72 Dickson urban renewal study area is located between Cowper Street, Antill Street, Hawdon Place and Sullivans Creek. It is 800 metres from major public transport services on Northbourne Avenue, adjacent to the Dickson group centre, with access to excellent recreation facilities including the Dickson playing fields, pool and tennis courts. These elements combine to make it an important precinct for reconsideration of how it can support a range of community uses.

Dickson Section 72 has been identified by the ACT Government and the community as a site with opportunities for broader community benefits especially in view of its location, site topography and mature landscape. The ACT Government committed to providing social housing and Common Ground 2 within Dickson Section 72 to support a diverse community.

The first stage of engagement with the community and key stakeholders (23 January to 16 March 2018) sought to understand their aspirations and concerns for the future of the precinct. Key activities included a community workshop, meet the planners and 'info kiosks' at Dickson shops, and 'walkshops' of the site with members of the community and local school groups.

The next stages of the project will be informed by stage 1 engagement and the agreed planning and design principles. The Directorate has chosen to streamline an integrated Section Plan for Dickson Section 72 that will set the policy context for future developments, including: land uses; possible building heights; active travel locations; traffic movement and public realm activation areas. This project demonstrates an innovative way of planning and designing a precinct through the implementation and delivery phases.

Highlights:

  • 400 brochures and posters distributed at local shopping centres and streets by the site.
  • 1262 people visited the project on the YourSay website.
  • 960 people visited the Social Pinpoint tool on the Your Say site and 112 comments were made, 203 people attended ainformation kiosks held outside the Dickson Pool and Dickson shops and meet the planners sessions held at Downer shops and Dickson shops.
  • 8 one-on-one meetings occurred with the current leaseholders of Dickson Section 72.
  • 16 participants attended a community workshop.
  • 20 emails were received with written feedback or submissions.
  • 'walkshops' of the precinct with students from local schools gave younger people in the community a direct opportunity to provide feedback.

A 'walkshop', facilitated by the Heart Foundation (ACT), gave the community an opportunity to discuss and challenge proposed opportunities for the precinct, and kept the channels of conversation with the community open through the stages of the project.

Forward Priorities

In 2018–19, the Planning Policy Division will focus on:

  • continue representing the ACT Government on the Interjurisdictional National Airports Safety Advisory Group to ensure existing and future operations of the Canberra Airport are protected in land use planning and development in the vicinity of airports
  • continue finalising the draft Eastern Broadacre Strategic Assessment documentation and commencing public consultation under the Commonwealth's EPBC Act
  • continue finalising the Planning and Design Framework for Molonglo Stage 3, as required by the Commonwealth under the Commonwealth's EPBC Act
  • assisting the Emergency Services Agency with implementation of a bushfire prone area declaration into the urban area of Canberra, and contributing ongoing technical advice to the ACT Strategic Flood Risk Management Group regarding flood-related actions under the ACT Water Strategy 2014–44: Striking the Balance
  • continued and ongoing consultation on the Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh with internal and external stakeholders, leading to a Territory Plan variation. Matters of interest include building height and character; upgrading and enhancing public spaces; and walking, cycling and road transport in response to a compact city and a change in climate
  • establishing a formal National Capital Design Review Panel and canvassing it as part of pre-development application process, including amendment to legislation with the view of embedding the National Capital Design Review Panel as a referral entity
  • ongoing relationship building and liaison with industry and key internal and external key stakeholders
  • releasing the ACT Planning Strategy Refresh 2018 and commencing a program of work to implement recommendations
  • ongoing community engagement to inform the ACT Planning Strategy Refresh
  • releasing the City and Gateway Stage 2 Community Engagement Report
  • releasing the City and Gateway Urban Design Framework
  • introducing outcomes driven and performance based planning controls via Territory Plan variations for the city centre and gateway corridor
  • releasing the Kippax and Curtin group centre master plans and the Tharwa Village Plan
  • working with Urban Renewal team to finalise planning and undertake further community engagement on the future of Section 72 Dickson
  • expanding the 3D Canberra model

For further information contact:

Kathy Cusack
Executive Director
02 6205 0204
Kathy.Cusack@act.gov.au

Heritage

Capital works

In 2017–18, $151,000 was allocated for heritage projects through the capital works program:

Canberra Tracks.

Canberra Tracks provides heritage interpretation at 174 sites in the ACT, including eight self-drive interpretive trails. Each heritage site on the trails has an interpretive sign telling the story of its past and its connection to the present. The Canberra Tracks program has increased private and community partnerships.

The network of signage was further consolidated with updated information. A new sign was installed at the site of Toll Dale.

New downloadable content was added to the free Augmented Reality app, which includes 48 two minute videos. People can now explore our heritage through 360° internal panoramas of places not usually open to the public. Brief audios bring life to six sites and geo-locator pips at Lake Burley Griffin negate the need for new signage. The sign at Regatta Point outside the Canberra Region Visitor Centre was updated explaining and promoting the app and its functions.

The Canberra Tracks brochure was reprinted and continues to be placed at 110 tourism outlets including hotels, visitor centres, attractions, and at Floriade.

Glenburn Homestead Pise Building Engineering Assessment.

In 2016–17, large cracks were recorded in the circa 1900 pise (rammed earth) building, and the lintel around the building's front door partially collapsed. An engineering assessment, completed in June 2018, identified a conservation strategy and a scope of works to guide the immediate and ongoing conservation and management of the place.

Relocation, conservation and interpretation of an Aboriginal cultural tree, Namadgi Visitors Centre.

In May 2018, an Aboriginal cultural tree was relocated from the Outward Bound property at Tharwa to Namadgi for conservation and interpretation. The tree was felled and cut into four pieces many decades ago, with one piece containing a large canoe scar in its entirety. At the request of Representative Aboriginal Organisations (RAO), the ACT Government funded this project to promote and celebrate the Aboriginal culture and history of the ACT. Following completion of conservation works, the cultural tree will be installed and interpreted at the Namadgi Visitor Centre.

ACT Parks and Conservation Service Cultural Heritage Management System

Thousands of Aboriginal places occur in lands managed by the ACT PCS, and a cultural heritage management system (CHMS) is currently being developed to manage these places in partnership with Traditional Custodians and in accordance with Heritage Act obligations. The project commenced with a review of the PCS management estate and current heritage management practices, which has informed a scoping of the CHMS and its governance. The initial stage of the CHMS also includes draft content on Standard Operational Procedures for Aboriginal cultural heritage management.

Ginninderra Blacksmith's Workshop Conservation Works.

Minor conservation works to the Ginninderra Blacksmith's Workshop including the repair of the corrugated iron roof.

ACT Heritage Grants Program

The 2017–18 ACT Heritage Grants Program funded 21 projects totalling approximately $352,000. The program is the primary source of funding for individuals and community organisations involved in heritage conservation in the ACT.

Summary of grant projects
Type of grant Grant value
Individual grant projects* $197,354
Community partnership projects
- Heritage Advisory Service ($25,000)
- Heritage Festival ($77,000)
$102,000
Heritage Emergency Fund $52,624
TOTAL $351,978
*For detailed information on community support initiatives (grants and sponsorship), see whole-of-government report prepared by Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate.
Heritage Festival

The Canberra and Region Heritage Festival (14–29 April 2018) included 156 activities involving 60 event organisers from government, community and private sectors.

The theme 'My Culture, My Story' focused on how a place is strengthened through our many cultural identities. A more inclusive society is the result when we have a better sense of our own identity. Events closely aligning with this theme included many Aboriginal heritage activities and activities at the Embassy of Ireland and the German Harmonie Club. Activities included open days, talks, tours, exhibitions, dances, a re-enactment, demonstrations and workshops. Regional events attracted people to Queanbeyan, Bungendore, Yass, Braidwood, Goulburn and the Monaro. There were fewer flagship events (where more than 1,000 people attend), however people appreciated the intimate atmosphere of the smaller, well-run events.

More than 10,000 people attended a festival event. More than 97% of the 130 survey respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with the event they attended. The festival continues to reach new markets with 55% of survey participants stating they had not previously attended a Heritage Festival event.

Social media was boosted to 26 posts with a reach of 58,052 compared to seven posts last year and a 31,148 reach. The printed program remained a popular way to find information.

Heritage Advisory Service

The ACT Government's Heritage Advisory Service was used 60 times. The service provides one hour of free heritage and architectural advice to prospective heritage purchasers and/or owners of heritage places intending to renovate or restore their properties.

The service also provided advice to ACT Heritage and the ACT Heritage Council on the condition of, and conservation works needed at, four heritage places: Glenburn Homestead; Rock Valley Homestead; Gungaderra Homestead; and Demandering Hut.

The service has been managed by ACT Heritage under contractual arrangements since 2002. The current service provider is Philip Leeson Architects Pty Ltd.

Heritage Emergency Fund

In 2018, $17,155 was released from the Emergency Fund to undertake urgent repairs to St John's Schoolhouse Museum, which forms part of the
ACT Heritage Register entry for St John the Baptist Church and Churchyard.

Heritage Registration

ACT Heritage assisted the Heritage Council in making significant progress on the nominations list, which was reduced from 108 to 94. The Heritage Council accepted an additional five nominations. There has been notable improvement in thematic representation on the ACT Heritage Register, with an increase in cultural precincts, Aboriginal cultural sites, and places with links to the ACT's educational history and natural heritage.

Highlights include the site of a Corroboree at the junction of the Queanbeyan and Molonglo Rivers, and rows of red flowering native shrubs in the Red Hill Nature Reserve that were planted to make Canberra colourful.

The ACT's educational heritage is now better represented on the ACT Heritage Register after the provisional registration of Signadou and Blackfriars Precinct, and registration of Tharwa School. Tharwa School is an important part of the history of the Limestone Plains as it provided access to education for children in rural communities who would not otherwise be able to attend school in the more populated areas.

A geological site, the Barton Highway Road Cut, was registered. The place demonstrates an important part of the underlying geological formation of the Canberra region. This part of the region's geology was formed in a marine environment that was lowered by tectonic movement and then built up by material eroding from mountains.

During 2017–18:

  • seven nominations were made, five were accepted and two were dismissed
  • 18 decisions were made on provisional registration including decisions not to provisionally register
  • four decisions were made on full registration.

Nominations accepted to the ACT Heritage Register:

  1. The 'Brick Banks' at Erindale Skatepark, Wanniassa
  2. Historical Railway Objects
  3. Narrabundah Duplexes, Narrabundah
  4. 40 Donaldson Street, Braddon
  5. Kingston Hotel, Griffith

Nominations dismissed by the Heritage Council:

  1. Red Hill School, Red Hill
  2. Trettes, Jervis Bay

Decisions to provisionally register:

  1. Barton Highway Road Cut, Nicholls
  2. Tharwa School, Tharwa
  3. 11 Northcote Crescent, Deakin
  4. Signadou and Blackfriars Precinct, Watson
  5. Red Hill Historic Plantings, Red Hill

Decisions not to provisionally register:

  1. Red Hill Rutidosis Site, Deakin
  2. Bull Oak Grove near Molonglo Gorge, Kowen
  3. Grassland Earless Dragon Habitat, Jerrabomberra and Majura
  4. Molonglo River to Barton Highway Woodland
  5. Mulligan's Flat Nature Reserve, Gungahlin
  6. Pale Pomaderris Habitats across the ACT
  7. Austral Toadflax Site near Kambah Pool, Tuggeranong
  8. Tharwa Village Precinct
  9. Pine Island Agglomerate
  10. Canberra Nature Park
  11. Murrumbidgee River Corridor
  12. Narrabundah Duplexes, Narrabundah
  13. Open Systems House (formerly Churchill House), Braddon

Decisions to register:

  1. Barton Highway Road Cut, Nicholls
  2. Corroboree Ground and Aboriginal Cultural Area, Queanbeyan River, Majura and Jerrabomberra
  3. Glenburn Precinct, Kowen (further registration)
  4. Tharwa School, Tharwa

Advice

ACT Heritage provided a significant amount of formal advice, including:

  • 212 pieces of advice on development applications (DAs) referred in accordance with the P&D Act, three of which were concurrent Environmental Impact Statement referrals
  • 50 pieces of advice on tree protection in heritage places and precincts, 14 of which were provided to the Conservator for Flora and Fauna
  • 36 pieces of planning advice, of which 14 related to Territory Plan Variations, 11 related to estate development plans, 5 related to deeds of agreement, 4 related to planning reports, and 2 to other matters
  • 35 pieces of advice on Statements of Heritage Effect applications made under the Heritage Act
  • 33 pieces of advice on applications for restricted information on Aboriginal places and objects
  • 28 pieces of advice on other applications referred under the P&D Act of which 9 related to Environmental Management Plans, 8 related to Environmental Significance Opinions, 6 related to EPBC Act referrals, and 6 related to Environmental Impact Statements
  • 11 pieces of advice on Conservation Management Plan applications made under the Heritage Act
  • 10 pieces of advice on Cultural Heritage Assessment reports and other heritage reports
  • 6 pieces of advice on compliance matters
  • 4 pieces on advice on Excavation Permit applications made under the Heritage Act
  • 3 pieces of advice to the National Capital Authority regarding works applications, referred in accordance with the National Capital Plan
  • 175 pieces of advice on general development proposals and queries, provided to a range of ACT Government agencies, development proponents heritage consultants and members of the general public
  • 18 pieces of general advice on the status and management of heritage places and objects within the ACT.

ACT Heritage also continued its success in providing advice on formal DA referrals within statutory timeframes, with 88% of all advice on DAs provided within the 15 working day statutory response period.

Forward priorities

In 2018–19, focus will be on:

  • continuing to administer the provisions of the Heritage Act and assisting in the recognition, registration, conservation and promotion of cultural, natural and Aboriginal heritage places and objects within the ACT to ensure their identification, and protection for present and future generations
  • continuing to provide secretariat support to the Heritage Council in performing its functions under the Heritage Act.
  • elevating the value and recognition of heritage values and assets across the ACT in partnership with the community.

For further information contact:

Ian Walker
Executive Director, Environment
02 6205 9027
IanS.Walker@act.gov.au

Environment

The Environment Division helps protect the natural environment—air, land, water and biodiversity— through policy, programs, monitoring, research and on-ground projects. The Division works across land uses and in partnership with a range of stakeholders—environmental volunteers, rural landholders, community groups, non-government and government organisations. Our people acknowledge and learn from Aboriginal culture in managing the landscape.

Policy and program areas cover water policy and catchment management, environment protection, nature conservation, natural resource management, forestry, fire and agriculture.

The Division receives funding from the Australian Government, including through the National Landcare Program and Murray–Darling Basin reforms, including the ACT Healthy Waterways Project.

Monitoring and scientific research aims to fill gaps in critical knowledge and provide the evidence
upon which policy is developed and management strategies devised.

This includes management and reintroduction of threatened species and mitigation of threats to people and ecosystem integrity, including fire, biosecurity issues, water quality and climate change.

The Division supports the role of Conservator of Flora and Fauna, whose main functions are to develop and oversee policies, programs and plans for nature conservation and monitoring of ecological condition.

The ACT Parks and Conservation Service (PCS) is a Branch within the Environment Division and reports on land management through Output 2.3 (page 78).

Regional Partnerships for Landcare

ACT NRM is the regional natural resource management (NRM) organisation that delivers services and projects for improving biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and Aboriginal outcomes. ACT NRM received funding from the Australian Government including $3.805 million (2015–18) under the National Landcare Program and $95,000 for pest animal and weeds (2015–19) under the Managing Established Pest Animals and Weeds under Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

ACT NRM also commenced negotiations with the Commonwealth for funding to deliver Core Services through Regional Land Partnerships (2018–23) and received $24,000 from Landcare Australia to deliver the 2017 ACT Landcare Awards. ACT NRM also manages funding received through government programs and administers the ACT Environment Grants.

Sustainable Agriculture
Supporting ACT and region farmers

The ACT Regional Landcare Facilitator (RLF) and NRM Facilitator support the development of a skilled and capable Landcare community in the ACT. Community engagement highlights included programs aimed at improving the efficiency and sustainability of pastures and grazing management on ACT rural land and projects which address pest animals and weeds. Work delivered included:

  • Top Lamb Crop: 12 ACT and region sheep producers participated in the final three sessions of this six-part ewe and lamb management training program. Pre- and post-course surveys indicated significant improvement in all aspects of participants' knowledge, skills and attitudes, with at least half indicating they will make or have made positive management changes as a result of the course.
  • Paddock Plant Identification and Management: Identifying pasture species and understanding associated nutrition is an important feed budgeting tool for farmers and therefore key to ensuring adequate groundcover is maintained in grazing systems. ACT NRM partnered with Landcare ACT to deliver two sessions, with 28 landholders attending from NSW and ACT.
  • AQF3 Chemical Use Accreditation: Training was offered to 30 rural landholders in July 2017 and April 2018, to support them to gain the skills and qualifications to handle and use farm chemicals, particularly for weed and pest animal control. This was funded under the Australian Government's Managing Established Pest Animals and Plants funding programs with support provided by the Southern ACT Catchment Group.
  • Pasture legume and soil testing program: 17 ACT rural landholders volunteered to participate in the program, which aimed to identify constraints on pasture legume performance. A partnership with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Murdoch University and PCS Biosecurity and Rural Services, ACT NRM and PCS staff tested soils and legumes across 34 paddocks in spring 2017. Results were analysed by DPI and presented to landholders at a workshop in May 2018.
  • ACT equine community: The RLF delivered a targeted work program to engage the ACT equine community in best practice land management. The program offered training to more than 50 horse owners and land managers covering principles such as rotational grazing, groundcover management and erosion mitigation, delivered by equine land management practitioner, Stuart Myers, in October 2017. With support from the ACT Rural grants program the ACT RLF has facilitated a demonstration site on an ACT horse agistment property. The demonstration site will provide valuable grazing and pasture management extension and education opportunities into the future.
  • Coordinated feral pig control program: The ACT RLF collaborated with the ACT Government Senior Vertebrate Pest Officer and landholders to develop and deliver a coordinated feral pig control program in southern ACT. The Southern ACT Feral pig control group was formed, comprising 17 southern ACT rural landholders who were supported with resources such as pig traps (funded under the ACT Rural Grants) and training (Best Practice Feral Pig control Workshop) to undertake pig control on private land over autumn/winter 2018. These actions have been complemented by the annual PCS pig control program on adjacent reserves and Namadgi National Park. More than 300 pigs have been trapped to date and the program has attracted strong landholder participation and commitment, and significant media interest.
  • Native Bee and Pollinator Workshop: Native bees play a critical role in crop pollination and have been impacted by ongoing habitat loss. Supporting native bee populations improves species diversity and agricultural outcomes. The ACT RLF program partnered with NSW Landcare networks to deliver three native bee and pollinator workshops in the region throughout July 2017, which included construction of bee habitats (bee hotels).
  • Passion mashing: Volunteer recruitment and retention is an ongoing challenge across Landcare networks. A one-day 'Passion mashing' workshop in May 2018 aimed to reinvigorate volunteering groups, particularly volunteer recruitment. Run in partnership with SEE-Change, it attracted 29 participants.
  • ACT Rabbit Project: The collaborative ACT Rabbit Project continued, supported under the ACT Rural Grants project and the Australian Government's Managing Established Pests and Weeds program, with 16 landholders in the Majura, Callum Brae, Jerrabomberra and Symonston districts supported to spread the latest strain of the Calicivirus (the RHDV1 K5 strain) on their properties in April 2018 to achieve improved control of rabbits. Some landholders followed-up with additional measures to control rabbits and reduce rabbit harbour on their properties. This work was done in partnerships with PCS Biosecurity and Rural Services. In addition, spotlight counts of rabbits and other pest animals were conducted across the project area in spring 2017 and autumn 2018 to inform rabbit management.
ACT Rural Grants

The $450,000 ACT Rural Grants program (2013–18) supports ACT rural landholders to implement innovative sustainable farming practices. The program involved three competitive grant rounds (2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17), with funding provided under the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme and managed by ACT NRM. Across the five years of the program, the ACT Rural Grants has achieved over 4000 hectares of improved land management across 31 ACT farms. The program supports rural landholders to undertake on-ground activities on their farms that:

  • improve groundcover, vegetation, soil health and/or water quality
  • minimise off-site impacts of farming activities
  • protect biodiversity
  • demonstrate coordinated regional or landscape-scale partnerships to address priority issues, including weed and pest animal issues, and/or
  • prepare for climate variability and climate change.

Support for rural landholders in this final year of the program included individual landholder projects as well as collaborative, cross-property projects that could achieve landscape-scale improvements in land management. These projects were well-supported by landholders and delivered in partnership with the RLF.

ACT Landcare Awards

The biennial State and Territory Landcare Awards are sponsored by Landcare Australia with funding from the Australian Government and sponsors. These awards recognise and celebrate the enormous efforts and achievements of the Landcare community across Australia. ACT NRM organised the 2017 ACT Landcare Awards. Winners of national categories from the 2017 ACT Landcare Awards will progress to the 2018 National Awards to be held in Brisbane in October 2018.

Winners of the 2017 national categories in the 2017 ACT Landcare Awards were:

  • Junior Landcare Team Award: Lake Tuggeranong College 'Sustainability Unit'
  • Austcover Young Landcare Leader: Miranda Gardner, Southern ACT Catchment Group and National Landcare Network
  • Fairfax Landcare Community Group: Ginninderra Catchment Group
  • Australian Government Partnerships for Landcare: ACT Catchment Groups, Landcare/Parkcare Groups and CVA–Green Army Program. A Highly Commended was also awarded to Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach
  • Australian Government Excellence in Sustainable Farm Practices: Dave Boorman, "Cypress Springs"
  • Rio Tinto Indigenous Land Management: Sally Moylan, ACT Parks and Conservation Service
  • Australian Government Innovation in Agriculture Land Management: John Ive, "Talaheni"
  • Australian Government Individual Landcarer: Lenore Hodgkinson North Belconnen Landcare Group. A Highly Commended was also awarded to Linda Beveridge, Friends of Black Mountain.

Winners of ACT Government sponsored ACT Landcare Awards were:

  • ACT Government Citizen Science Award: Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch
  • ACT Government Environment Community Support Award: Anke Maria Hoefer, ACT Frogwatch. A Highly Commended was also awarded to Karissa Pruess.
Partnerships and Community engagement
Rural Landcare

The ACT RLF and NRM Facilitator continued to build on existing partnerships and strengthen Landcare and NRM networks.

Highlights:

  • The ACT RLF's ongoing work with CSIRO scientists, Greening Australia and ACT Government staff to develop species provenance trials for Blakely's Red Gum is part of broader efforts across the Directorate to map and document dieback in a range of eucalypt species and undertake research to understand possible causes of the dieback and options for addressing the issue. Trial sites have been identified on four ACT farms with propagation planned next financial year.
  • The ACT RLF's role on the steering committee of the Small Farms Network–Capital Region, a grass roots information sharing network targeting new and smaller landholdings across NSW and the ACT to increase land management capacity.
  • Collaboration with the ACT Biosecurity and Rural Services unit, on coordinated pest animal and weed projects and sustainable agriculture extension activities.
  • Supporting and advising Landcare ACT and the ACT Catchment Groups on delivery of sustainable agriculture events including:
    • a Regenerative Agriculture Evening Seminar presented by Charles Massey and Martin Royds in May 2018
    • an Aboriginal Agriculture Evening seminar presented by Bruce Pascoe and Bill Gammage in May 2018.
  • Partnerships with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Murdoch University and PCS Biosecurity and Rural Services to deliver the legumes project.
  • Partnerships with landholders across the ACT to roll out rabbit, pig and legume projects.
Community Landcare

In addition to programs targeting rural landholders and existing Landcare networks, ACT NRM has delivered initiatives aimed at broader community engagement and education including:

  • coordinated Catchment and Landcare presence at the Canberra Show in February 2018 and the Connect and Participate Expo in April 2018
  • facilitation and delivery of education activities at Sci-Scout 17–18
  • coordinated development of an ACT Landcare Gateway website that will better connect community to volunteering opportunities, support existing volunteers and promote the excellent work of the ACT region's catchment and Landcare networks.
ACT Environment Grants*

The 2017–18 ACT Environment Grants received 20 applications, of which nine projects were funded to a total of $203,000. These projects included actions to protect threatened ecosystems, on-ground weed control, setting up a space for the treatment of wild animals, and citizen science projects to assist the monitoring for frogs in remote areas

*For detailed information on community support initiatives (grants and sponsorship), see whole-of-government report prepared by the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate.

Investment Plan

The Regional NRM Investment Plan (finalised in June 2017) acted as an investment prospectus to design and seek funding for programs and projects, strengthen existing partnerships, attract new partners and investors and broker investments between partners. In December 2017, community consultation concluded with 15 expression of interests being received from prospective partners for future regional NRM investments across the ACT. This process, including advice from the NRM Council, informed ACT NRM's February 2018 tender submission for funding under the Regional Land Partnerships, National Landcare Program Phase II.

Aboriginal Engagement

ACT NRM engages the local Aboriginal community through the Aboriginal NRM Facilitator and Kickstart My Career Through Culture program. See section on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Reporting for details on South-east Australia Aboriginal Fire Forum held in May 2018 and student participation on Kickstart program.

Biodiversity

Biodiversity projects funded through Australian Government NRM Programs have focussed on enhancing the resilience of grassland and woodland ecosystems across the ACT and region through targeted on-ground works to support the recovery of threatened flora and fauna.

Woodlands

White-Box–Yellow-Box–Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland is listed as a critically endangered ecological community under the EPBC Act. Nationally, less than 5% of the original extent of this ecological community remains. ACT NRM was successful in gaining a $2.155 million grant for a 5-year project, 2012–17 (ACT BioFund Project) to help consolidate and connect 60,000 hectares of the largest remaining box-gum grassy woodland landscape in Australia

A review of the project was finalised in August 2017. The review evaluated the ACT BioFund project, including how the project contributed to the delivery of the broader ongoing Woodlands Restoration Program in the ACT including two ACT Government-funded projects: the ACT Woodland Restoration Project (2011–15) and The Murrumbidgee River Corridor Million Trees project (2008–18), and other complementary initiatives.

Threatened species recovery

ACT NRM supported delivery of the Australian Threatened Species Strategy, including managing $600,000 from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program for a joint project between ACT NRM, Woodlands and Wetlands Trust and ACT PCS to expand Mulligan's Flat Sanctuary from 485 to 1555 hectares.

Natural temperate grasslands

The Canberra Nature Park grassland enhancement program trialled different methods of biomass management—ecological burns, grazing, slashing and invasive species control—to enhance the health of grasslands and threatened species' populations. ACT NRM provided $240,000 to PCS in 2015–18. The following targets were achieved:

  • More than 350 hectares of conservation grazing (95 hectares in 2017–18) included over 20 kilometres of fencing to control stock.
  • 200 hectares of fire management (80 hectares in 2017–18).
  • More than 1000 hectares (400 hectares 2017–18)
    of weed and pest animal control.

The program adopted an adaptive management approach, and grazing and fire trials were underpinned by a robust experimental design and comprehensive monitoring effort. The program completed three years of monitoring across seven grassland reserves, including monitoring of vegetation community composition, vegetation structure, reptiles (including the threatened Striped Legless Lizard and Grassland Earless Dragon) and invertebrates (including the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth).

The Grassland Program's community engagement component included seven presentations to groups such as catchment groups, local and interstate community forums, the National Recovery Meeting for the Grassland Earless Dragon and various government events (e.g. Ecofocus).

Conservation Policy and Research

Legislation reviews and implementation
Fisheries Act 2000

Public consultation was held on a review of the Fisheries Act 2000 that will ensure the legislation appropriately addresses contemporary fisheries management issues.

Nature Conservation Act 2014

Work continued on the implementation of the Nature Conservation Act 2014 (NC Act), which commenced in June 2015, including through the development of legislative instruments relating to species, ecological communities and key threatening processes, including:

  • Nature Conservation (Murray Cod) Native Species Conservation Plan 2017 (NI2017-561)
  • Nature Conservation (Translocation of Native Flora and Fauna) Conservator Guidelines 2017 (NI2017-650)
  • Nature Conservation (Eastern Grey Kangaroo) Conservation Culling Calculator Determination 2018 (NI2018-141)
  • Nature Conservation (Native Grassland) Action Plans 2017 (DI2017-288)
  • Nature Conservation (Protected Native Species) Criteria and Processes 2017 (DI2017-294)
  • Nature Conservation (Listed Migratory Species) Action Plan 2018 (DI2018-27)
  • Activities Declarations for reserves including Sherwood Forest Special Purpose Reserve (NI2017-366) and Bimberi Wilderness Area (NI2017-412).
Conservation strategies and Action Plans
Aquatic and Riparian Conservation Strategy

An updated Aquatic and Riparian Strategy, with accompanying threatened species action plans, has been drafted. The strategy's vision is 'Healthy waterways supporting diverse aquatic and riparian flora and fauna, and providing high quality ecosystem services'. Following approval from the ACT Scientific Committee, the strategy was put out for community consultation from 12 January to 11 March 2018 (NI2018-17). Comments received have been included in the document prior to going to the ACT Scientific Committee in June 2018. The approved revised strategy will be released by the end of 2018.

Native Grasslands Conservation Strategy

The Native Grassland Conservation Strategy, which includes eight action plans for threatened grassland plants and animals, was published in December 2017 (DI2017-288). The strategy and action plans provide guidance on the conservation of native grasslands and their component species in the ACT, regardless of tenure and land use.

Murray Cod Native Species Conservation Plan

This plan was finalised in November 2017 (NI2017-561) following consultation from 15 June–30 July 2017 (NI2017-292). The Murray Cod has special protection status because it is a listed threatened species under the EPBC Act. This plan provides for the protection and management of the species and the continuation of sustainable recreational fishing. The plan was developed with expert advice from the Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee and Scientific Committee.

Native Woodlands Conservation Strategy

Drafting of the revised ACT Native Woodland Conservation Strategy and associated action plans (and conservation advice) began. The strategy will build on the protection and management of woodlands achieved since the 2004 Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy. It will provide guidance on the management and conservation of grassy woodlands in the ACT for the next ten years. The scope of the revised strategy will be broadened to include all woodland formations in the ACT, including both lowland and montane woodland communities. A framework for the strategy and a literature review is complete. Workshops and information sessions have been facilitated to provide interested stakeholders an opportunity to provide feedback and discuss priorities as the document is developed. A draft strategy will be made available for public comment by early 2019.

ACT Action Plan for Listed Migratory Species

The first ACT Migratory Species Action Plan was finalised on 23 February 2018 (DI2018-27). The plan provides actions to improve knowledge and management of migratory birds that regularly visit the ACT and are listed under the EPBC Act (s.209), including Latham's Snipe. Listed migratory species are a matter of national environmental significance and the plan identifies strategies and actions to improve their management and habitats while in the ACT; and inform environment impact assessment in areas where migratory species occur. Consultation on a
draft strategy occurred from 12 July–25 August 2017
( NI2017-357 ). A focus of implementation was monitoring of Latham's Snipe at Jerrabomberra Wetlands through a partnership with the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust and PCS.

Representation and engagement
Natural Policy

The Directorate represented the ACT Government on inter-jurisdictional working groups including the Biodiversity Working Group, Threatened Species Working Group and Wetlands and Aquatic Ecosystems Working Group (all chaired by the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy), Feral Cat Taskforce (chaired by the Commissioner of Threatened Species) and Drought Task Group (chaired by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources).

In 2015, all Australian jurisdictions collaboratively developed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide greater consistency and reduced duplication in the assessment and listing of threatened species and ecological communities. Work undertaken through 2017–18 included development of conservation advice for some of the 34 ACT-listed species and a further 17 species listed under the Australian Government's EPBC Act that may occur in or visit the ACT.

Changes to the threatened species list will largely be finalised later in 2018 in continued consultation with the Scientific Committee.

The ACT has contributed to enhancing collaboration in efforts to reduce the threat of feral cats on native wildlife, and strengthening national approaches including through the National Biodiversity Strategy and Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform.

Scientific Committee

The Scientific Committee consulted on two nominations during the year: the Eastern Bettong as a Conservation Dependent Species (NI2017-548) and Unnatural Fragmentation of Habitats as a Key Threatening Process (NI2018-201).

The Scientific Committee assessed the Eastern Bettong against the Conservation Dependent criteria and the Loss of Hollow-bearing Trees (and more broadly mature trees) against the criteria for a Key Threatening Process (NI2017-198). Listing assessments and draft conservation advices have been prepared for these processes and recommendations will be forwarded to the Minister next year. The Minister is responsible for making a decision on listings.

The Scientific Committee will assess the nomination of Unnatural Fragmentation of Habitats as a Key Threatening Process in 2018–19 (NI2018-201).

The Minister made an instrument (DI2017-294) outlining criteria and processes for the nomination and assessment of Protected Native Species in December 2017 following consultation with the Scientific Committee at meetings in 2017–18.

The ACT Scientific Committee is a statutory expert body appointed by the Minister for the Environment under the NC Act. The Committee is appointed for a three-year term, which ended on 30 June 2018. Appointment processes were undertaken for the Scientific Committee to establish a new committee from 1 July 2018.

Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee

The Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee, a non-statutory expert advisory committee, provides independent strategic advice to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and the Directorate on the sustainable management of the Territory's natural resources. All appointees to the NRMAC have appropriate expertise and qualifications to advise government on a range of natural resource management issues in the ACT. An appointment process to fill a vacancy was undertaken in 2017–18.

Grassy Woodlands Stakeholder Group

The Directorate established a Grassy Woodlands Stakeholder Group, a consultative forum for the community and the ACT Government to exchange and discuss information, knowledge and views to help enhance management and protection of the ACT and region's lowland grassy woodlands. This was in response a recommendation in relation to a Feasibility Study for a New National Park, 'That the ACT Government considers an ongoing role for the National Park Feasibility Reference Group (or similar representative group) to support conservation outcomes for the ACT's lowland grassy woodlands'.

The consultative forum met twice and discussed the development of the ACT Woodlands Strategy, indicating that a forum to disseminate and celebrate outcomes from grassy woodlands research and projects would help in developing the new strategy. An ACT Woodlands Forum was held on 27 and 28 June, with over 100 people attending.

Threatened species
Plants – survey and monitoring
  • Brindabella Midge Orchid: Annual monitoring of the only known population of the Brindabella Midge Orchid continued in Namadgi National Park with low overall numbers emerging in 2017–18. The low numbers are likely a result of well below average rainfall in summer and autumn 2018 and concord with low counts of many other orchid species throughout the ACT this year.
  • Button Wrinklewort: Populations on reserved land appear to be stable with few management issues. Two populations on leased land have declined over time. One of these populations may be the subject of a genetic rescue project designed to increase its long-term viability.
  • Canberra Spider Orchid: The recovery of known sub-populations and the recording of new sub-populations indicate that Canberra Spider Orchid has recovered well since the 2002–09 drought. Ongoing management and recovery efforts include caging patches of plants to exclude grazing and ensure seed set and pollen collection for the National Herbarium to assist in the maintenance of ex-situ populations. Preparations for a translocation attempt include modelling suitable habitat, identifying pollinator locations and drafting planning and approval documents.
  • Small Purple Pea: Annual counts are made of all known Small Purple Pea populations in the ACT.
  • Murrumbidgee Bossiaea: Over the five-year survey period, including this year, there has been no appreciable decline or observed loss of individuals at any subpopulation. This species currently appears stable in the ACT.
  • Tarengo Leek Orchid: The Tarengo Leek Orchid population in the ACT has been monitored since the early 1990s.
  • Tuggeranong Lignum: Only 11 wild Tuggeranong Lignum have ever been identified. All wild plants are inspected annually to identify management issues. One plant was washed away in flooding in 2015, but all other plants are still extant. The Australian National Botanic Gardens has recently made collections of these plants available to the ACT Government for translocation purposes. Sites are currently being selected.
  • Ginninderra Peppercress: The Conservation Research unit has counted the population of Ginninderra Peppercress at North Mitchell grasslands since its discovery in 2012. Between 2015 and 2017 the population declined by 50%; due to our limited understanding of the species' ecology and the large variation in annual counts it is not possible to draw any conclusion about the trajectory of the Mitchell population. Recent research has provided information on the germination conditions for Ginninderra Peppercress and seed was collected in 2018 to be used in a translocation project with the Mitchell site.
  • Pale Pomaderris: The Conservation Research Unit is involved in a joint project with the Australian National Botanic Gardens and other agencies to improve the conservation outcomes of a number of threatened Pomaderris species in south eastern Australia. The ACT focus has been on the nationally vulnerable Pale Pomaderris; the ACT is a stronghold for this species with some large populations being found in the Murrumbidgee River Corridor and Tuggeranong Hill Nature Reserve. Seed and cuttings collected from the major populations in the ACT will be raised by the ANBG for use in translocations and to secure an ex-situ population of this species. While cuttings have been successfully raised, no seedlings were germinated. Through the research partnership, CSIRO released a paper detailing genetic factors in Pale Pomaderris that preclude it from producing seed via sexual reproduction, indicating that the populations may be clones of individual plants. A translocation of cloned plants into the Molonglo Reserve is being planned.
Terrestrial fauna and fish – survey and monitoring
  • Eastern Bettong: As part of a collaboration between the ACT Government, Australian National University (ANU) and Woodlands and Wetlands Trust, the Conservation Research Unit participated in ongoing monitoring of the Eastern Bettong population at Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary and the trial release of Eastern Bettongs to an unfenced area of the Lower Cotter Catchment.
  • Grassland Earless Dragon: Annual Grassland Earless Dragon monitoring was undertaken at Majura Training Area (Defence land), Cookanalla and Jerrabomberra West Grassland Reserve in 2018 as part of broader scale Grassland Earless Dragon monitoring of ACT populations in partnership with the University of Canberra, the NRM groups, and the Department of Defence. Genetic work on tissue samples taken by the Conservation Research Unit are being analysed by the University of Melbourne. An honours student is currently investigating survey methods and will use some of the unit's data. Other work has been supporting field surveys for arthropod burrows as part of mapping Grassland Earless Dragonhabitat through the Grassland Restoration Project, run by the NRM group.
  • Eastern Quoll: As part of an ACT Government, ANU and Woodlands and Wetlands Trust project to reintroduce Eastern Quolls to Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary, the Conservation Research Unit undertook the translocation of 14 quolls from the wild in Tasmania and Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre in Victoria in 2017. Further translocations from Tasmania were undertaken in June 2018.
  • Northern Corroboree Frog: The Conservation Research Unit continues to oversee the captive breeding program for Northern Corroboree Frogs at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, where around 1000 corroboree frogs are held in captivity. In 2017–18, a broad-scale survey of 35 historic breeding sites for Corroboree Frogs in Namadgi National Park found only four calling males, indicating that the wild populations that once numbered in the thousands are all but extinct in the ACT. The release of captive-bred frogs at two sites in Namadgi National Park is continuing, which is helping to sustain two small populations at these sites.
  • Koala: Koalas have been held in semi-captivity at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve for many years; however, observations of wild koalas in the ACT are very rarely recorded. In response to the Queensland, NSW and ACT populations of koalas being listed nationally, a survey of koalas in the ACT was undertaken this year. Search areas were prioritised based on considerations of preferred food trees and fire severity. No koala populations were detected, suggesting that occasional observations of animals within in the ACT are likely to be dispersing individuals from source populations in NSW.
  • Yellow-footed Antechinus: An ACT Government and ANU project to re-establish fauna in Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary undertook surveys for Yellow-footed Antechinus in the Yass–Gundaroo area of NSW, with the aim of identifying populations from which animals could be translocated to Mulligans Flat. A number of populations were found and translocations are planned for 2019.
  • Two-spined Blackfish: In conjunction with Icon Water, the 2018 Two-spined Blackfish survey was completed, which included re-survey to understand recovery after prescribed burns adjacent to the Cotter River. Bendora Reservoir was surveyed for the first time since 2014; there has been a steady reduction in the catch of the fish since 2001. This survey will be repeated in 2019 to monitor the population for proposed burns and environmental flow delivery.
  • Trout Cod Monitoring: Monitoring for Trout Cod was undertaken as part of the Two-spined Blackfish monitoring of Bendora Reservoir field site. This population was established by conservation stocking in the mid-1980s and has shown sporadic and low levels of recruitment post stocking. The reservoir was last surveyed in 2014 when no Trout Cod were captured and in 2011 when one adult Trout Cod was captured. However, in 2018, five Trout Cod were recorded, including adults and sub-adults, indicating that spawning and recruitment has been successful at least once since 2014.
  • Little Eagle: The Conservation Research Unit chairs the informal, collaborative Little Eagle Research Group which was formed to monitor and assess the status and ecology of the Little Eagle in the ACT and nearby NSW. Nest cameras have been set up to monitor breeding success and breeding season diet. The cameras were not successful in 2017 due to monitored nests not being utilised by breeding pairs; however further attempts to gain visual insight into nesting behaviour will be made in the 2018 breeding season.
  • Macquarie Perch: Recent genetic analysis of Macquarie Perch populations has confirmed that the population in the Cotter River is genetically impoverished to the point that its long-term survival and evolutionary adaptability to environmental change (such as climate change) would likely be compromised. The ACT Government partnered with the University of Canberra and Monash University and other organisations in a four-year Australian Research Council funded project on genetic rescue of a number of threatened species including Macquarie Perch. The preliminary analysis also identified that a population of Macquarie Perch that had been translocated to Cataract Dam near Wollongong NSW in the early 1900s, was genetically healthy and of the same Murrumbidgee Strain as the Cotter River population. This population is considered appropriate to potentially improve the genetics of the Cotter River population. For the second year of three, 28 Macquarie Perch were collected from Cataract Dam at the end of February and held for quarantine disease screening and health checks to minimise the risk to the local population and environment. These fish were released into the Cotter River in April 2018. Monitoring and genetic analysis will be under taken of juveniles over the next three years to determine the success of the genetic rescue.
    • Snorkelling was undertaken in December 2017 to determine if Macquarie Perch had spawned successfully. Small numbers of larvae were recorded at two of the release sites. Samples were taken for genetic analysis as part of the Australian Research Council Grant to determine if crossbreeding between the Cataract and Cotter fish has occurred. Additionally some larval fish were recorded directly upstream of Cotter Reservoir indicating that, for a second year in a row, there was successful spawning from the Macquarie Perch population in Cotter Reservoir.
    • The Conservation Research Unit assisted the University of Canberra in a project for Icon Water to characterise the spawning habitats of Macquarie Perch in the Cotter River. Twelve riffles in the Cotter River—at three locations where Macquarie Perch are suspected to breed—were surveyed for habitat type and presence of eggs in spring 2017. Eggs were detected at one of the three locations in late spring and results indicate that Macquarie Perch prefer the lower reaches of riffles that are high in cobble and boulder substrate and reasonably low in flow velocity.
Threats and threatening process
  • Prescribed burn monitoring: ecological assessment - The Conservation Research Unit conducts ongoing ecological monitoring of the annual PCS Bushfire Operations Plan including a combination of qualitative post-burn assessments and quantitative monitoring plots. Monitoring was conducted in the upper Cotter River area of Namadgi National Park to track the post-fire recovery of flora and fauna in sub alpine woodland and montane forests after a large prescribed burn in 2015. A number of prescribed burns were evaluated against ecological guidelines both in Canberra Nature Park and in Namadgi National Park.
  • Dieback: Dieback in ACT woodlands was severe and widespread in 2016. The Directorate has prepared website information and a brochure aimed at landholders to assist them in identifying and managing dieback. Recently the ACT Government commissioned the University of Canberra to analyse environmental and climate relationships with dieback in an effort to further understand potential causes and possible solutions. The project is due to be completed in early 2018–19.
  • Deer monitoring: Impacts of feral Sambar Deer on montane and alpine ecosystems continue to be monitored by PCS and Conservation Research Unit staff, including continuation of a Sambar exclusion study in forest and sub alpine woodlands of the upper Cotter River area and impact surveys in alpine bogs in Namadgi National Park
    • The second year of Sambar Deer impact surveys in alpine bogs of Namadgi National Park were conducted in autumn 2018 and included impact of other feral vertebrates such as rabbits and pigs in these sensitive high elevation ecosystems. Higher bogs had little or no sign of deer impact but lower bogs, particularly those close to the Cotter River, had extensive signs of deer presence and widespread damage due to wallowing behaviour. These monitoring data have contributed to raising the profile of deer as an emerging threat in Namadgi National Park; as a result PCS is partnering with other agencies managing land in the Australian Alps to conduct further research on Sambar ecology and possible control options.
Land-based surveys and baseline information
  • Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Program
    • In July 2017, the Conservator of Flora and Fauna released the second Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Program 2017–19 that sets out a two year program of biodiversity research and monitoring activities. The monitoring program primarily supports the role of the ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna and contributes to:
      • a long-term strategic approach to biodiversity monitoring and research
      • better understanding and tracking of ecosystem condition in the ACT
      • an evidence base for environmental policy, program and resource allocation decisions, and reporting.
    • An implementation report on the Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Program 2015–17 Implementation Report outlines progress achieved in implementing the Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Program 2015–17.
    • Conservation Effectiveness Monitoring Program
      • The Conservation Research Unit and PCS continue to develop initial monitoring plans and condition analysis reports for the eight broad ecosystems within the Conservation Effectiveness Monitoring Program (CEMP). This program will form the evidence base for adaptive management of biodiversity values in the ACT reserve network. CEMP draws on data from the Directorate, community groups and external research institutions to evaluate the condition, state and trend of key indicators and metrics for ecological values and stressors (threats) and provided feedback on management effectiveness to inform future strategic and operational planning.
      • Over the past 12 months the Conservation Research Unit has completed and published the Lowland Grassland Ecosystem Monitoring Plan and an evaluation report that reports on the ecological condition of our lowland grassland reserves, making recommendations for improvements in both on-ground management and monitoring, and identifying knowledge gaps for future research. The unit is currently analysing monitoring and research data to contribute to CEMP condition reports for upland grassland ecosystems and for aquatic and riparian ecosystems.
    • Identifying biodiversity refugia: The Identifying Biodiversity Refugia project has modelled and mapped the current and future suitability of desirable native species under plausible regional climate model scenarios. The project explores potential climate impacts for most of the native trees, shrubs and grasses that are characteristic of vegetation communities in the ACT. Information on the location and extent of local refugia is informing ecological restoration and fire management on-ground, 'climate-ready' conservation objectives and a better understanding of the ecology and vulnerability of desirable species. Project deliverables include a datapack to support spatial analysis, maps to facilitate communications, a technical report to help with interpretation, as well as 'show and tell' and training sessions for end users.
    • Longitudinal groundcover condition monitoring: Grassland and woodland condition monitoring undertaken by the Conservation Research Unit commenced in 2009 to provide annual assessments of plant species richness and abundance in 16 reserves. The project has shown that the groundcover condition has remained relatively stable at most sites; however, there has been a slight general decline in the percentage cover of perennial native grasses. The data is now used in CEMP to evaluate the species richness indicator in the lowland grasslands ecosystem.
    • Land Management Agreement site inspections: One of the core goals of Land Management Agreements is the protection of biodiversity values on private land. This is achieved by assessing the ecological values on properties and working with landholders so they are aware of the location of these values and how to manage them. From 2017 the Conservation Research Unit has implemented a program of property inspections to update these data and improve the quality of the agreements.
    • Kangaroo: Kangaroo grazing and biodiversity within Canberra Nature Park: The 'Kangaroos and Conservation: Assessing the effects of kangaroo grazing in lowland grassy ecosystems' report was published on the Directorate's website. The study reports on relationships between kangaroo density, rates of grass consumption (off-take), grassy layer structure and biodiversity across the ACT's lowland conservation estate.
      • Kangaroo density - Data collection continues to assess relationships between kangaroo density and rates of off-take at the site scale, which will enable development of updated functional response models (used to estimate reserve specific kangaroo target densities) and ongoing analysis of broader scale relationships between kangaroos and their environment.
      • Kangaroo health study - In response to frequent 'die-off' events observed in high-density kangaroo populations during late winter, a small project was undertaken to assess the effects of differing population density and food availability on various health parameters of sub-adult kangaroos. Animals were sampled from four populations and assessed for bone and kidney fat levels, parasite loads and haematological blood parameters.
      • Kangaroo fertility control research - The 'Fertility Control of Eastern Grey Kangaroos in the ACT: Assessing efficacy of a dart-delivered immunocontraceptive vaccine' report was published on the Directorate's website. This report highlights the success to date of the program, which aims to develop a remote delivery technique for GonaCon Immunocontraceptive Vaccine, which is now approaching 10 years of efficacy in female Eastern Grey Kangaroos when injected by hand. The report describes work carried out to assess the most appropriate dart type for delivery of the contraceptive agent, as well as an assessment of the short-term welfare implications of dart-delivered GonaCon as compared to the more typical dart delivery of anaesthetic agents. The study also assesses the relative efficacy of hand- versus dart-delivered GonaCon; with hand delivery achieving breeding rates of 13.3% the first year after treatment compared to 20.8% in dart delivered animals.
      • Kangaroo population counts – drone trial - In an effort to increase the cost efficiency of annual kangaroo counts in reserves considered as part of the conservation culling program, a pilot study was initiated to assess the capacity for counts to be undertaken using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). Footage captured opportunistically during rabbit management programs demonstrated a strong requirement for the use of infra-red cameras for detecting kangaroos; with early morning surveys providing the best contrast between kangaroos and environmental heat signatures. In collaboration with NSW Department of Primary Industries, Heli Surveys and Airborne Technologies Australia, the first side-by-side survey transects were flown in autumn 2018 to compare survey techniques (forward looking 'strip' counts vs. sideways looking 'distance' counts), and to compare specialised drone and video equipment with 'off the shelf' models held by PCS. Analysis of this data is ongoing, and additional surveys will be undertaken in 2018–19 should the proof of concept be demonstrated and resources be available.
    Rosenberg monitor

    A survey technique for establishing abundance estimates for this rare varanid species present in the ACT (Lace Monitor and Rosenberg's Goanna) is being sought to assist in furthering knowledge about the ecology of these species. In 2017, camera traps were established in the Naas Valley to trial a mark–resight abundance estimate technique based on utilisation of unique facial patterns to identify individual goannas 'trapped' at multiple cameras across space and time. The study included a side-by-side comparison of two different camera types to assess differences in detection rates between cameras which differ in their reliance on movement and heat signatures (which are often minimal in reptiles) for camera triggers. Several hundred thousand photos were captured during this survey, with analysis expected to take place throughout the rest of the year.

    ACT Vegetation map

    A complete coverage vegetation map for the ACT was completed in 2017–18 to draft level and is undergoing quality assessment before being uploaded to ACTmapi in 2018–19. Supporting metadata and mapping unit descriptions and accuracy assessments are being developed for web publication. The mapping data has already been used in data development for the Regional Fire Management Plan and modelling of refugia, dieback severity and distribution and supporting the revised Native Woodlands Strategy.

    Aquatic and riparian surveys and baseline information
    Urban Lakes Fish Monitoring

    Sampling by the Urban Lakes project team in November and December 2017 included Lake Ginninderra and Lake Burley Griffin. Redfin were the most common fish by number across three sites in Lake Ginninderra, with 69 being caught, but these were predominantly small fish of 30–50 millimetres. A total of 45 Carp and 24 Golden Perch were caught. In Lake Burley Griffin, 271 fish from six species were caught across five sites with 42% of the total number being Carp; 33 Golden Perch were caught, equivalent to 22% of the biomass. This is a significant increase over the 2012 survey where 5.6% of the biomass was Golden Perch. This result demonstrates the survival and growth of the stockings since 2011. However, the size range was limited, with all fish being over the recreational size limit of 300 millimetres, and a maximum length of 502 millimetres.

    Urban Lakes Fish Stocking

    More than 42,000 native fish fingerlings were stocked into Canberra's urban lakes this year. Lake Ginninderra received 21,000 Murray Cod while 500 Murray Cod were distributed between four new ponds at Coombs. Upper Stranger Pond was stocked for the first time, following draining and removal of Carp, with 1000 each of Murray Cod and Golden Perch. The National Capital Authority and Canberra Fisherman's Club funded the stocking of 18,000 Murray Cod into Lake Burley Griffin. The event received extensive media coverage.

    Carp removal
    Isabella Carp Removal Project

    Upper Stranger Pond was re-filled and stocked with 1000 each of Murray Cod and Golden Perch. This pond has been re-surveyed twice to check that Carp have not been reintroduced. Woody snags have been placed in the pond to improve fish and bird habitat. Fadden Pond, upstream of Isabella Pond, contained the only other remaining population of Carp in the Isabella Catchment with the Carp being removed in June.

    National Carp Control Plan - Biomass Estimate

    As Part of the National Carp Control Plan, the Conservation Research Unit was contracted to undertake a mark and recapture survey in Kambah Pool as part of a national project to determine Carp biomass and numbers. The project requires accurate biomass and density assessments across a number of habitats and uses existing data from the ACT including the data obtained from the Isabella Pond Carp removal in 2017 and catch per unit effort data from the Murrumbidgee and urban lakes survey programs. Kambah Pool was chosen to represent a permanent river; during a mark–recapture survey in April and May, 150 Carp were captured and 15 were recaptured during the program. Additionally, 60 Murray Cod and 32 Golden Perch were captured and tagged. The data on Carp will be analysed as part of the national program.

    Water Policy and catchment management

    ACT Water Strategy

    The government completed the rollout the first 5 year implementation plan (IP1) for the ACT Water Strategy: Striking the Balance 2014–44, which guides the management of the Territory and region's catchments and water supply over the next 30 years.

    The Directors-General Water Group, which oversees implementation of the strategy, met regularly during the year to provide strategic direction in water management.

    A report card on progress with IP1, released in June 2018, shows very good progress, with government having completed 27 of the 31 agreed actions. Three actions were assessed as in progress but with completion dates early in IP2. One action is due for commencement in 2019 pending the outcome of a current study and will be carried forward into IP2.

    Progress with implementation of the Strategy has been enabled by a whole-of-government approach and broader community partnerships. Achievements from the implementation of the ACT Water Strategy include:

    • continued implementation of the ACT/Commonwealth funded Healthy Waterways project, which has commenced:
      • 12 of 19 water quality infrastructure projects
      • research into in-lake processes contributing to blue green algae and management of ponds
      • an integrated water quality monitoring and modelling program
      • the H2OK Stormwater education program as the region's first cross-border catchment program
    • 'in principle agreement' to the establishment of interstate water trading between the ACT and NSW
    • continuation of the Waterwatch program, which has seen the program grow to more than 200 volunteers conducting more than 2400 water surveys a year in what is the only regional water quality/river health monitoring program.
    Sustainable water use

    Under the Commonwealth Water Act, the ACT must prepare a ten-year water resource plan that demonstrates how surface water and groundwater is managed in the ACT consistent with the net Sustainable Diversion Limits set under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. The ACT Water Resources Act 2007 is the framework for the ACT Water Resource Plan.

    The ACT Water Resource Plan will establish how the ACT will comply with its net Sustainable Diversion Limit of 54.70 gigalitres for surface water and 3.16 gigalitres for groundwater; that is, the maximum amount of water that can be taken annually from the environment for consumptive use.

    Highlights:

    • Submission of the ACT Water Resource Plan to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority for approval is on track for late 2018, with accreditation expected by mid-2019. The current plan has been extended accordingly. The ACT will seek to align its Water Resource Plan and submission and accreditation time frame with the existing time frame for the NSW Murrumbidgee Plan (mid-2019).
    • The preparation of a long-term environmental watering plan, as required under the Basin Plan, commenced during the year. Based on the ACT's environmental flow guidelines, it will be submitted towards the end of 2018.
    • The determination of Indigenous water values and uses as required for the ACT Water Resource Plan continues with the involvement of the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations group.
    • Work commenced with the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and NSW to develop interstate water trading arrangements.
    Flood management

    The Directorate is part of the ACT Flood Planning Committee and a Strategic Flood Risk Management Group charged with implementing the ACT Strategic Flood Risk Management Plan. The Directorate is working to update understanding of flood risk as the urban footprint continues to change. With funding from the National Disaster Resilience Program, flood studies have been undertaken for the eight urban catchments, together with a significant peer review. As a result:

    • where required, data was updated and the models for each catchment were rerun to produce revised 1% Annual Exceedance Probability maps showing flood depth, extent and hazard
    • the revised catchments were Sullivan's Creek, Yarralumla Creek, Jerrabomberra Creek, Weston Creek, Woolshed Creek, Tuggeranong Creek, Ginninderra Creek and Molonglo River
    • new flood risk maps will be released publicly on ACTmapi
    • in conjunction with the announcement, the Emergency Services Agency will run a flood and storm safety education campaign (separately funded under National Disaster Resilience Program), aligned with the release of the flood studies for a combined approach to flood risk management.
    Regional Catchment Governance
    ACT and Region Catchment Management Coordination Group (the Group)

    The Group is an inter-jurisdictional coordination body established to strengthen governance and catchment management in the ACT and surrounding areas.

    The Group provides advice to the ACT Minister for the Environment and Heritage on regional catchment management and provides a forum for cooperation and collaboration between key stakeholders and their communities.

    The Group met three times to progress the strategy and provide advice on opportunities for improved integration of approaches to catchment management across the region. The council has a strong focus on educating the community about catchment management and empowering them to act on this knowledge.

    See full details on the work of the Group including annual reports.

    The region's catchment challenges are significant: population growth, a changing climate, and multiple jurisdictions. In response the Group developed the 2016 ACT and Region Catchment Strategy and Implementation Plan. The strategy focuses on better devolved and collaborative decision making using the best available knowledge; collaborative investment in catchment management; and alignment of legislation and compliance.

    The Catchment Strategy also recognises the valuable role that landholders and the community play in protecting the catchment.

    Highlights:

    • The Group endorsed an inter-jurisdictional decision making framework related to catchment policy and planning.
    • Centre for Urban and Regional Futures was appointed to inform a catchment-wide assessment of vulnerability to climate change. A stakeholder engagement workshop was held in November 2017 and a report will be provided at the August 2018 meeting.
    • The Group developed an integrated catchment emergency response plan that outlines the environmental values to be retained/rehabilitated in the event of significant natural events in our key catchments.
    • The Group moved to secure long-term water supplies for the ACT and Region by including water trading in the 2017 work plan for Memorandum of Understanding for Regional Collaboration and inclusion in NSW and ACT Water Resource Plans due for accreditation in 2019.

    Community engagement and involvement

    H2OK Keeping our Waterways Healthy

    This stormwater education and behaviour change program continued to be rolled out during the year. The program operates across the Upper Murrumbidgee Region and targets actions by urban and rural residents as well as the building and construction industry that have a negative impact on our waterways. The program combines awareness, education and incentive elements:

    • seasonal social media campaigns (winter—litter; spring—fertilisers; summer—soil and erosion; autumn—leaves)
    • a catchment road show (Multicultural Festival; Canberra Show; Jerrabomberra Wetlands Open Day; Murrumbateman Field Day; Clean Up Australia Day)
    • drainART, a school drain art competition and decals, and commissioned art works and decals
    • stencilling stormwater sump covers (over 600 stencils across Canberra and the region)
    • demonstration sites at 15 urban and rural residential properties to illustrate best practice stormwater management
    • collaboration with the building and development industry to improve training on stormwater management and the improve installation and maintenance of erosion and sediment control measures; and
    • ambassadors to get the key messages across that 'Only Rain Goes Down the Stormwater Drain'.
    Waterwatch

    This community citizen science initiative is managed by the Directorate with funding from the ACT Government and Icon Water. Waterwatch operates across the Upper Murrumbidgee catchment, with community-based coordinators supporting hundreds of volunteers who regularly collect water quality data and assess the condition of in-water biodiversity and streambanks.

    • Work continued on preparing the next annual Waterwatch Catchment Health Indicator Program (CHIP) Report, which reports on waterway condition through stream reach report cards based on Waterwatch water quality, water bug surveys and riverbank vegetation condition assessments collected by Waterwatch volunteers.
    • Waterwatch also undertook a systematic observation record of platypus across the region as well as promoting the reporting of Carp breeding activity using the 'Carp love 20°' campaign.
    • The government continued to support the regional Frogwatch program, which is hosted by the Ginninderra Catchment Group and provides valuable data on regional frog populations

    Forward Priorities

    In 2018–19, focus will be on:

    • completing the ACT Healthy Waterways (Basin Priority) Project
    • releasing Implementation Plan 2 for the ACT Water Strategy
    • investigating the feasibility of water trading and/or efficiency measures to support improved water catchment management
    • finalising the ACT Water Resource Plan for accreditation by the Australian Government
    • public consultation on a draft ACT Cat Plan, draft ACT Woodlands Strategy and associated action plans, and draft Spotted-tailed Quoll Action Plan
    • securing funding and implementing Regional Land Partnerships projects funded under the National Landcare Program
    • listings under the NC Act, including for the Eastern Bettong
    • progressing the review of the Fisheries Act 2000
    • finalising a review of the Exempt Species List under the NC Act
    • releasing the revised Aquatic and Riparian Conservation Strategy and associated action plans
    • continued survey and monitoring of ACT-listed threatened species and communities to assist evidence-based decision making.

    For further information contact:

    Ian Walker
    Executive Director, Environment
    02 6205 9027
    IanS.Walker@act.gov.au

    Climate Change and Sustainability

    The ACT is a national leader in addressing climate change, with the Climate Change and Sustainability 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 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 (EEIS), Climate Change Policy,
    Carbon Neutral Government (CNG) Framework and initiatives to enhance energy markets and increase access to renewable electricity generation.

    Sustainability Programs

    Programs for households
    Actsmart Sustainable Home Advice service

    The Actsmart Sustainable Home Advice service was launched on 1 July 2016 following a decision by the ACT Government to provide a cost-effective, in-house energy efficiency service for households. The program offers residents free independent advice, information and resources to reduce household energy use including:

    • free home energy advice by phone, email and in-home visits
    • free workshops on household energy efficiency and rooftop solar
    • a suite of online, accessible factsheets.

    The service also provides residents with details of other programs that may help them such as the EEIS, the Low Income Household Program and other ACT and Australian government initiatives.

    1867 people used the service in 2017–18, with 1513 people attending 45 workshops and other events and 354 people receiving advice by phone, email and in-home visits.

    Carbon Challenge

    The Carbon Challenge, launched in February 2015, is a government commitment to provide online tools for households to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Participants can accept a range of challenges on energy, water, waste, transport, gardening and community.

    The Carbon Challenge had 3217 registered participants in 2017–18.

    Wood Heater Replacement Program

    The Wood Heater Replacement program aims to reduce the level of air pollution from wood heaters by helping residents replace their wood heater with a more efficient heater. Approximately 1155 wood heaters have been removed from service and replaced with cleaner, mains-supplied natural gas heating options or electric reverse cycle systems since the program started, with 25 removed in the past year.

    In 2017–18, the program provided:

    • $1100 subsidy when replacing a wood heater with a new electric ducted reverse cycle system installation
    • $600 subsidy for an electric reverse cycle split system (minimum 3 star) or for upgrading an existing reverse cycle system to a minimum 3 star
    • $100 subsidy for the removal of a wood heater only.

    From 1 July 2017 gas subsidies were no longer offered through the program. Applicants for gas subsidies approved prior to 1 July 2017 were able to claim rebates until 31 December 2017. ActewAGL Pty Ltd provided the funding for the gas subsidies.

    In November 2015 the Wood Heater Replacement program introduced a 12-month trial for subsidies for electric heating, funded by the ACT Government, and this rebate has been incorporated into the program.

    The $100 subsidy for removal of wood heaters was introduced in July 2015 to encourage correct disposal of removed wood heaters. It is included within the subsidies for the replacement of both gas and electric heating systems and as a standalone subsidy where just the wood heater is removed.

    Programs for low income households
    Actsmart Low Income Household Program

    The Actsmart Low Income Household program commenced in October 2015. The program, which is delivered by St Vincent de Paul, helps low income households improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce GHG emissions. It offers in-home energy assessments and education to improve participants' understanding of energy and water use and provides energy saving kits, a heated throw rug and extensive draught proofing to the house. Participants receive support to access eligible energy concessions and are referred to other services such as retailer hardship programs or the No Interest Loan Scheme. The program also replaces old, inefficient refrigerators and room heaters to a limited number of prioritised low income households.

    No Interest Loan Scheme

    In January 2015, a partnership was developed with Care Financial Services Inc. and The Salvation Army to offer subsidies for energy and water efficient appliances purchased using the existing No Interest Loans Scheme. This cost-effective approach reduces GHG emissions by providing the financial means for low income households to access energy efficient technology where there may otherwise be a cost barrier. The following subsidies apply:

    • $200 washing machine
    • $300 refrigerator
    • $500 split system
    • $200 freezers
    Curtain Project

    The Actsmart Curtain Project, originally launched in 2014 as a trial between St Vincent de Paul, SEE-Change and the Directorate, continued. This project supports vulnerable households through improving the energy efficiency and thermal comfort of their homes and improving participants' sense of privacy and security.

    Eligible households are identified through the Low Income Household Program and supported by volunteers through the St Vincent de Paul network.

    Outcomes of the Low Income Programs

    Estimated savings from the energy-efficient appliances and retrofits (refrigerators, freezers, draught sealing, window treatments, efficient heating and No Interest Loans Scheme subsidies) installed in 2017–18 are:

    • energy - 1271 megawatt hours (MWh) from both electricity and gas
    • greenhouse gas emissions - 440 t tCO2-e.

    These figures do not include any savings that may be achieved from behaviour change of program participants as a result of the home energy assessment, education and information sessions.

    The estimated minimum lifetime energy savings achieved from the energy-efficient appliances and retrofits installed during 2017–18 is 11,821 MWh
    (from both electricity and gas).

    Total energy savings are calculated using the methodology employed by the EEIS.

    Not all activities offered through the Low Income Household Program (such as education and heated throw rugs) are included in the EEIS, so the reported savings are likely to be an underestimate.

    Solar for Low Income Program

    The Actsmart Solar for Low Income program was launched by Minister Rattenbury in December 2017. The program provides eligible households with a partial subsidy of up to 60% (capped at $3000) for the supply and installation of rooftop solar panels. Participants can also access a three-year interest free loan to pay off the remaining costs.

    The estimated benefit to participants is in the order of $300 to $900 per year, with the actual benefit varying depending on household usage patterns and property factors such as available roof space and orientation.

    221 low income households received solar panels through the program in 2017–18.

    Low Income Programs Participation
    Activity Program started 2017–18 Participation Total participation from start of program
    Low income households assisted 01 Oct 2015 1496 3671
    Home energy assessment and education (first visit only) 01 Oct 2015 573 1619
    Information sessions 01 Oct 2015 923 2052
    Energy efficient refrigerators and freezers installed 01 Oct 2015 113 390
    Energy saving kits, heated throw rugs and other energy and water efficient items provided 01 Oct 2015 553 1515
    Draught proofing 01 Oct 2015 350 1181
    Energy efficient heaters installed 01 Apr 2016 101 272
    Appliances provided through No Interest Loans Scheme subsidies Jan 2015 29 refrigerators
    3 freezers
    32 washing machines
    1 reverse cycle air conditioners
    144
    9
    148
    11
    Curtain Program 2014 158 381 households
    Programs for business
    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 to help reduce energy and water consumption, began on 1 July 2012. The program is open to ACT businesses, community groups and owners corporations with electricity bills up to $20,000 per annum and/or up to 10 full-time equivalent staff.

    An Actsmart technical assessor conducts an energy and water assessment of the participant's premises, resulting in a tailored energy and water action report. The report recommends upgrade opportunities and no-cost and behaviour change recommendations that can reduce energy and water consumption and GHG emissions. Participants are able to claim a rebate of 50% of costs of approved upgrades up to $5000.

    In 2017–18 the program continued to complement the efficiency upgrades offered through the ACT Government's Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme. Eligible businesses were able to receive free or subsidised lighting upgrades through electricity retailers participating in the EEIS. The Actsmart program offered complementary advice, action plans and rebates to businesses wanting to improve the efficiency of other energy and water fixtures, resulting in a holistic package of energy and water efficiency support.

    Actsmart Business Energy and Water Program Participation
    Numbers 2017–18 participation Total program participation (since July 2012)
    Number of businesses assessed 130 808
    Number of businesses claiming a rebate 78 433

    In 2017–18 the program assessed 130 small businesses, community groups and owners corporations, with 78 claiming a rebate to upgrade to more efficient fittings or fixtures. Estimated savings from the upgrades are:

    • energy - 653 MWh
    • greenhouse gas emissions - 294 t t tCO2-e
    • savings from energy bills - $147,900 for the year, or an average of $1900 per business.
    • estimated lifetime energy savings from the upgrades installed since the program began are 46,620 MWh.

    The following participant businesses received awards in this area at the annual Actsmart Business Sustainability Awards Breakfast in May 2018:

    • Winner – Actsmart Business Energy and Water Star: Spielwelt German Parents Association and Pfadfinder Scout Group
    • Highly commended – Innovation Excellence: Design Construct Industries.

    Further details on the achievements of these organisations can be found at www.actsmart.act.gov.

    Actsmart Business Recycling Program

    The Actsmart Business Recycling program, launched in 2009, provides assistance and accreditation to businesses to encourage and support them to improve the way they deal with their waste, to redirect waste away from landfill and to strive to improve sustainability and reduce the Territory's carbon footprint.

    The 1004 sites across the Territory participating in these programs include major shopping centres, fast food outlets, GIO Stadium, Manuka Oval, Australian Institute of Sport, Calvary Public Hospital, Calvary John James Hospital, National Arboretum and National Zoo & Aquarium. Including the Directorate, 563 sites were accredited in 2017–18, meeting the recycling standard set by the program.

    More than 70,000 staff have access to the programs. In 2017–18, the 563 accredited sites recycled approximately 17,240m3 of mixed recyclables, representing 1390 t tCO2-e avoided, 22,216m3 of paper and cardboard, representing 5555 t tCO2-e avoided, and 1999 cubic metres of organic material, which is equivalent to 1097 t tCO2-e.

    In addition:

    • many businesses that are still working towards accreditation are achieving substantial reductions in waste to landfill that are not captured in the above statistics
    • the program helps businesses avoid over-servicing caused when bins are collected when not full, resulting in further cost savings for business owners
    • tours of the Materials Recovery Facility educate staff from signed sites about the recycling process, including advice on best practice.

    The program continued to be delivered to Queanbeyan businesses through a cross-border agreement with Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council. Waste generated in Queanbeyan is diverted to ACT landfills, so encouraging Queanbeyan businesses and offices to improve recycling results in less landfill in the ACT.

    A program highlight was the launch of the Straws Suck campaign in June. The campaign aims to reduce plastic waste, primarily single-use plastic straws, in Canberra's restaurants, cafes and bars as well as raise awareness about sustainability in their businesses. At 30 June 2018, 17 businesses were participating in the campaign.

    The following participant businesses received awards in this area at the annual Actsmart Business Sustainability Awards Breakfast in May 2018:

    • Winner – Waste Minimisation: Elections ACT
    • Highly Commended – Waste Minimisation: Ausvet
    • Winner – Biggest Recycler: ACT Health Directorate (Canberra Hospital)
    • Winner – Small Business Award: >Bond Hair Religion
    • Winner – Corporate Award: Little National Hotel
    • Winner – Motivation Excellence: Queen Elizabeth II Family Centre
    • Winner – Motivation Excellence: U.S. Embassy Canberra
    • Winner – Innovation Excellence: Ginninderry Joint Venture
    • Winner – Minister's Award for Leadership: Jenni Tarrant – Bond Hair Religion.

    Further details on the achievements of these organisations can be found at www.actsmart.act.gov.

    Programs for the community
    Public events

    The Actsmart Public Event program helps event organisers implement recycling facilities within a public event. The program has been extended to include advice and support on energy, water and transport opportunities available to event holders. Any community-based event is eligible including school fetes, festivals, fairs, shows or sporting events.

    A Public Event Sustainable Events Guide, which provides tailored advice and equipment to participants, includes a section specifically on energy, water and transport to encourage the reduction of water and energy consumption and encourage alternative transport to events. The program also offers free energy and water assessments for events.

    In 2017–18, 201 events participated in the program including Floriade, National Multicultural Festival, ActewAGL Royal Canberra Show, National Folk Festival, Summernats 31, sporting events, fetes and fairs. More than 1.5 million patrons had the opportunity to recycle at these events.

    Diversion of waste into recycling streams included 78,974 kilograms of mixed recycling, equivalent to 101 t tCO2-e avoided and 2367 kilograms of organic waste, equivalent to 3 t tCO2-e avoided.

    The following participant businesses received awards in this area at the annual Actsmart Business Sustainability Awards Breakfast in May 2018:

    • Winner – Biggest Recycler – Small Event: The Earth Festival
    • Winner – Biggest Recycler – Large Event: National Multicultural Festival
    • Highly Commended – Biggest Recycler – Large Event: Kicks Entertainment Events/Oktoberfest Parklands 2017

    Further details on the achievements of these organisations can be found at www.actsmart.act.gov.

    Communication and awareness

    A communication and education program to increase awareness of water, energy efficiency and waste issues and broader sustainability management was provided through a range of public events and presentations.

    The Actsmart website has 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 website facilitates an ongoing dialogue with the community on climate change, sustainability information and self-help web tools readily available to the community, households, schools and businesses. It provides extensive and up-to-date online information, news, links and a variety of interactive tools and opportunities to develop personal plans of action that help residents, businesses, schools and community organisations better manage their energy, water and waste and live more sustainably.

    In 2017–18 the Actsmart website had 45,320 users who viewed 131,618 pages. Familiarity with the Actsmart brand in the community has seen 11,343 direct searches for Actsmart.act.gov.au.

    Social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) increase awareness of Actsmart information and assistance and direct people back to the Actsmart website to access more detailed information. Digital analytics report a growing number of local and national followers and strong engagement on sustainability initiatives.

    Community partnerships

    The ACT Government provides funding to three community organisations: SEE-Change, Canberra Environment Centre and Conservation Council ACT Region. The funding supports the three organisations to help ACT residents become more sustainable and environmentally aware through the delivery of events, workshops and other community engagement activities.

    The organisations' activities complement the government's sustainable and environmental priorities, policies and programs. They also promote and distribute information on current sustainability initiatives of the government.

    Programs for schools
    Actsmart Schools

    Actsmart Schools implements a whole-of-school, action learning and behavioural change approach to sustainability. The program supports schools to introduce sustainable management practices into every-day school operations and create a school culture committed to minimising its impact on the environment. All 134 ACT schools have registered with the program (public, private and independent schools), representing 77,142 students.

    Highlights

    • Curtin Primary School, Palmerston District Primary School and Arawang Primary School gained five-star accreditation, taking the total to 17 schools. The five-star accreditation scheme rewards schools for their achievements.
    • Professional development workshops for students, teachers and school business and facilities managers attracted 300 participants. Workshop topics included engaging students through food gardens, energy and water, integrating sustainability into the curriculum and educating school sustainability coordinators. Two eco-bus tours were conducted for teachers and students to promote best practice in sustainability in schools.
    • The Actsmart team gives advice, conducts energy assessments, delivers best practice guides, addresses school meetings and helps establish student teams. Staff visited 42 schools to assist with waste and recycling and a further 23 schools received the Student Energy Action kit and an energy presentation.
    • Actsmart Schools facilitates visits by a qualified horticulturist, with 28 schools receiving advice on irrigation, plant selection and garden design (to reduce water and energy consumption), keeping chickens, composting and establishing food gardens.
    • Resources provided by the Actsmart Schools program included best practice guides (energy, water, waste and recycling, school grounds and biodiversity), curriculum units (P–Y10), case studies and educational games such as Trash and Treasure and Talking Points. Forty-four schools borrowed the two interactive waste displays and a composting display.
    • Actsmart Schools continued to work with the ACT Education Directorate to help schools move towards carbon neutrality, providing environmental data, workshops and ongoing education, resources and advice. The comparison of consumption levels for 2017–18 between accredited and non-accredited schools is illustrated below. Note that water and energy results are based on data for public schools only.
    • Data from audits undertaken for 2017–18 show that schools with Actsmart Schools waste accreditation send 25% less waste to landfill (on a per student basis) than schools that are not accredited. This table shows that schools with an Actsmart Schools accreditation (in the focus area measured) consistently perform better than schools who have not achieved accreditation.

    Summary of school savings

    SchoolsUsage
    Water use per student 2017–18 (kilolitres /student/annum)  
    All schools 7.59
    Actsmart accredited schools 7.54
    Non-accredited schools 7.62
    Energy use per square metre 2017–18 (megajoules/ square metre/annum)  
    All schools 348
    Actsmart accredited schools 326
    Non-accredited schools 431
    Waste sent to landfill 2017–18
    (cubic metres/student/annum)
     
    All schools 0.48
    Actsmart accredited schools 0.41
    Non-accredited schools 0.55

    Climate Change

    Greenhouse Gas Inventory

    The 2016–17 ACT Greenhouse Gas Inventory assesses both total greenhouse gas emissions and the emissions per person in the Territory.

    Highlights from the latest reporting period (2016–17 ):

    • ACT emissions were 3916.2 kt tCO2-e, 3% lower than the previous year.
    • The ACT emitted 9.64 t tCO2-e per person, compared to 10.14 t tCO2-e per person in the previous year.
    • At the time of the assessment, electricity generated up to 52% of ACT emissions, followed by transport (29%) and natural gas (10%), the two main sectors being targeted in the new ACT Climate Strategy currently under development.
    New Emissions Reductions Targets

    In May 2018, the ACT committed to a new, nation-leading target of achieving net zero emissions by 2045 (previously 2050). This target is the most ambitious of any Australian state or territory, and is among the most ambitious climate change targets internationally. A series of interim targets will be adopted to set a pathway to 2045 (see Strategic Indicator 4.1 for details of the targets). Legislation will be introduced in 2018 to formalise these targets.

    Highlights:

    • Committing to new emissions reduction targets, including a target of achieving net zero emissions by 2045 and interim targets for 2025, 2030 and 2040.
    • The launch of the ACT's Transition to Zero Emissions Vehicles Action Plan 2018–21, which outlines the actions government will take to encourage the rapid uptake of zero emissions vehicles in the ACT. This plan complements a broader suite of work to promote active travel, increase use of public transport and reduce emissions from public transport and private vehicles. This work will help Canberra remain as a highly sustainable and liveable city.
    A New Climate Strategy for the ACT

    The ACT's current climate change strategy and action plan (AP2) set out a pathway to reduce the ACT's greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020. In December 2017, the government released a discussion paper, ACT's Climate Strategy to a Net Zero Emissions Territory, to inform the development of a new climate strategy to achieve 2025 emission reduction targets. The discussion paper highlighted key sectors where emission reductions will be required (e.g. transport, waste and energy), and the value of individual choices in reducing emissions (e.g. choosing public transport or active travel rather than driving). In addition to community feedback, the Climate Change Ministerial Advisory Group (CCMAG)—formed in October 2017 with representatives from community organisations, business groups and peak bodies—advises the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability on matters relating to the development of the strategy and net zero emissions goals. CCMAG met with the Minister three times during the year.

    Highlights:

    • Extensive community engagement on the discussion paper with activities including stakeholder roundtables, community drop-in sessions at local libraries, stalls at major events such as the Canberra Show, Multicultural Festival and university open days and local community meetings. More than 100 written submissions on the discussion paper were received.
    • Feedback from the community was collated in a 'register of ideas', which was made publicly available in July 2018 and will be considered in developing the new strategy.
    • A climate change photo competition, with prizes worth $2000, attracted 116 entries and raised awareness for the new climate strategy.

    Climate Change Adaptation

    The ACT is already 1 degree Celsius hotter than the long-term average. Further global warming is already 'locked-in'. The actions in the ACT Climate Change Adaptation Strategy: Living With a Warmer Climate 2016, are focussed on what the government can do in the short term (to 2020) to start the transition to become less vulnerable and more resilient to impacts. The risks from climate impacts are from extremes like hotter, longer heatwaves; more frequent droughts; more severe bushfires; more intense storms and consequent flash flooding. The Adaptation Strategy actions are in sectors that reflect different government services such as emergencies and disasters, health and wellbeing, settlements and infrastructure, nature conservation and water.

    Highlights:

    • Two-thirds of the 27 Adaptation Strategy actions have been fully or substantially completed within 18 months, with remaining actions to be completed by 2020.
    • CSIRO Land and Water's study of areas of high urban heat (and cold) and most vulnerable people was publicly released in February 2018, along with the Living Infrastructure Information Paper.
    • ANU Fenner School began a review of the current trees species list for Canberra (Municipal Infrastructure Standard (MIS) 25) to ensure future plantings will be fit-for-purpose for the different climate.
    • Engagement with the Sustainability Alliance—a minister-invited independent group of peak bodies, knowledge brokers and business—captured views to inform the Living Infrastructure Plan.
    • The first longitudinal Benchmarking Resilience survey of the ACT community by the University of Canberra attracted more than 2700 participants. Early results showed almost all Canberrans want government action on climate change, and building improvements through increased regulation.
    • The scope of the whole-of-government Director-General level Steering Committee and Senior Officer level Climate Change Working Group expanded to cover all climate related matters rather than just adaptation.

    Measuring progress

    In February 2017, the Minister directed the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment to prepare an Implementation Status Report on the progress of ACT Government climate change actions, as required under Action 18 of AP2. This report, published in September 2017, highlighted the substantive progress in delivering on AP2 actions. It found that despite the rapid growth in renewable energy, further action is required to increase energy efficiency and continue to support vulnerable households. Transport was recognised as the next major sector for reducing emissions. The report acknowledged that community engagement would be vital to ensuring effective climate mitigation and adaptation actions.

    In response, the government acknowledged the findings of the audit and supported the continual improvement of policy development and implementation to ensure climate adaptation and mitigation work continues effectively. The ACT Government agreed to all recommendations and noted one. Recommendations from the report are being actively considered in the development of the new ACT Climate Change Strategy. For more section B9.

    The Minister's Annual Report on climate change was released in October 2017. It outlined the government's actions against the requirement of the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010 for the 2015–16 financial year.

    Energy

    Progress towards 100% renewable electricity generation by 2020

    Between 2012 and 2016 the ACT held four reverse auctions for renewable electricity generation, securing 40 megawatts of large-scale solar generating capacity in the ACT and 600 megawatts of large-scale wind generation capacity in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. The capacity was secured at record low feed-in tariff prices and keeps the ACT on track to achieve its target of 100% renewable electricity by 2020. Achieving this renewable electricity target will deliver nearly all of the emission reduction needed for the ACT to reach its greenhouse gas target of a 40% reduction on 1990 level emissions by 2020. In terms of additional renewable electricity generation, the ACT's renewable electricity target is the most ambitious in Australia and will ensure the Territory reaches 100% renewable electricity supply before any other state or territory.

    The ACT was the first state or territory to use the reverse auction process in Australia and led the way towards its successful use in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

    Highlights:

    • Renewable electricity supply for the year was equal to 46% of the Territory's total electricity demand, putting it on track to achieve 100% renewable electricity supply by 2020.
    • The completion, by the end of the year, of four of the seven wind farms and all three solar farms supported through the ACT's large feed-in tariff program. The last three wind farms will start generating under the scheme by October 2019.
    • The installation of 69.93 megawatts of rooftop solar photovoltaic generation capacity in the ACT by June 2018, up from 66.7 megawatts installed by June 2017. This capacity is supported by the ACT small–medium feed-in tariff scheme and retailer solar support schemes.
    • The receipt of an Innovative Solutions award from the Institute of Public Administration Australia, which described the ACT's reverse auctions as 'a novel policy to promote renewable energy investment'.
    • A no-gas trial was established in 350 homes during Stage One of the Ginninderry development to test the viability of all-electric utilities in a Canberra residential suburb. If successful, the trial could lead to a major reduction of infrastructure costs in developing new suburbs as well as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions given ACT electricity will be 100% renewable by 2020.
    • Around 690 household battery systems were supported through the Next Generation Energy Storage program, bringing the total to 860 since the announcement of the program. The program supports the roll-out of 36 megawatts of distributed battery storage in up to 5000 ACT businesses and homes by 2020, and is one of the largest such schemes in the world. Anticipated savings to the ACT and its residents are $60 to $220 million in network infrastructure costs.
    • The Next Generation Energy Storage program made possible the trial of one of the world's largest virtual power plants, coordinated by local company Reposit Power and ACT electricity distributor, Evoenergy. The program is stimulating innovation in the local renewable energy industry, delivering benefits to consumers, developing a flexible renewable energy grid of the future, and further enhancing the position of the ACT as a renewable energy leader.
    • The $12 million Renewable Energy Innovation Fund is supporting the Renewables Innovation Hub, a collaborative co-working space in Canberra's renewables precinct. The Hub increased membership this year, supporting 74 members through 25 businesses, and hosted 98 events.
    • The national Power of Choice reforms included changes to electricity metering and meter provision. The successful implementation of the reforms has seen increased customer choice in meter technology and stimulated the uptake of smart meter technology in the ACT. Smart meter technology gives customers access to a wider range of services and electricity tariffs, and greater control over their electricity use.

    Carbon Neutral Government

    The ACT Government continued to lead by example through implementation of the CNG Framework. The ACT Government is responsible for about 4% of the Territory's greenhouse gas emissions and is committed to achieving net zero emissions in its operations by 2020. Endorsed in 2012, the CNG Framework enables and coordinates a whole-of-government approach to achieving carbon neutrality in government operations in a cost-effective manner.

    The CNG Fund is a zero-interest fund that allows agencies to manage the cost of reducing emissions. To date, 28 ACT Government projects to the value of around $15 million have been supported under the fund.

    The Enterprise Sustainability Platform continued to provide directorates and other agencies with comprehensive information on energy and water consumption, costs and greenhouse gas emissions data for reporting and resource management planning.

    Highlights:

    • Four successful CNG Fund applications, with a diverse range of projects including lighting upgrades, solar photovoltaic systems, on-site power generation and energy storage in the form of a micro-grid and upgraded energy efficient air compressors. A number of feasibility studies were also supported.
    • The CNG workshop program continued to build skills and capacity on sustainability issues across the ACT Pubic Service through events such as a tour of the North Building HVAC upgrade at Canberra Museum and Art Gallery, workshops on utility prices and carbon budgets, and a natural gas efficiency masterclass.
    • A new Enterprise Sustainability Platform contract commenced, ensuring continuous improvement of directorate energy, water and transport and greenhouse gas emissions data for monitoring
      and reporting.
    • Public reporting of ACT Government directorate energy targets and quarterly reports on the Directorate's website commenced, as well as online publication of the Carbon Neutral Government newsletter.

    Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Scheme

    The EEIS continued to deliver energy efficiency upgrades to households and small-to-medium enterprises in the ACT. The EEIS is currently legislated until December 2020 and an independent review of the scheme was undertaken in 2018, which showed it had been effective in reducing household and business emissions, energy costs and been cost-efficiently delivered, with an overall positive benefit-cost-ratio.

    As part of an ongoing process of strengthening the EEIS, activities were reviewed, streamlined and updated to achieve greater harmonisation with other energy efficiency schemes in Australia.

    A Priority Household Target is set for every compliance period (calendar year) to ensure EEIS activities are delivered to the most vulnerable households in the Territory. The Priority Household Target was set to 20% for the 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2018 compliance period, consistent with the 2016 and 2017 targets. The EEIS is in the process of consulting stakeholders on the 2019 Priority Household Target. Additionally, a new regulation commenced on 1 January 2018 to extend the classes of priority households under the EEIS and allow more people facing financial hardship to have access to energy efficiency activities under the scheme.

    Highlights:

    • Over 124,000 energy saving items installed.
    • 3521 households and businesses received >energy efficiency upgrades.
    • 240 old, inefficient heaters were replaced by new high efficient systems in low income public housing as part of an Energy Efficiency Improvements in Public Housing Pilot Program initiated in November 2017.
    • Nearly 1.5 million gigajoules of lifetime energy savings delivered.

    ACT Climate Change Council

    The ACT Climate Change Council (the Council) is an advisory body to the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability. The Council's main function is to provide advice on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.

    The Council plays a pivotal role in informing climate change policies in the ACT and providing leadership to the community. Council raises awareness of climate change risks and community benefits from effective climate action, influences community views and attitudes, and encourages community members to take action towards a decarbonised economy and a more resilient Territory.

    In October 2017, the Council provided advice to the Minister on future greenhouse gas reduction targets including a net zero target and interim targets. This advice was included in the discussion paper, The ACT's Climate Strategy to a Net Zero Emissions Territory, which was open for public consultation from December 2017 to April 2018. The Council's proposed emission reduction targets were adopted by government in May 2018.

    The Council met four times to provide advice to the ACT Government and twice with members of the Climate Change Ministerial Advisory Group.

    In June 2018 the Council hosted a workshop tailored for the building sector on climate-wise buildings.

    During 2017–18 Council members were Professor Barbara Norman (Chair), Professor Penny Sackett (Deputy Chair), Mr Toby Roxburgh, Professor Will Steffen, Professor Frank Jotzo, Ms Karen Jesson and Mr Ben Ponton.

    See further details on the work of the Council and the Council's annual report.

    Forward Priorities

    In 2018–19, the focus will be on:

    • finalising of the ACT's new Climate Change Strategy
      • developing a refreshed CNG Framework to ensure the ACTGovernment continues to target ambitious emissions reductions in its own operations to 2020 and beyond
      • responding to recommendations from the EEIS Independent Review
    • continuing delivery of energy, water and waste programs to businesses, schools, low income households and the community
    • continuing to deliver on the ACT Government 100% renewable electricity target.

    For further information contact:

    Mr Gene McGlynn
    Executive Director, Climate Change and Sustainability
    02 6205 4752
    Gene.mcglynn@act.gov.au

    Conservation and Land Management

    Parks and reserves

    The ACT Parks and Conservation Service (PCS) is responsible for planning and conservation management of national parks, nature reserves, water catchments and rural lands. It manages fire and biosecurity, protects and conserves the natural and cultural resources of the ACT and promotes appropriate recreational, educational and scientific uses of our parks and reserves.

    The PCS is entrusted with the management of almost 70% of the Territory's 236,000 hectares, meaning the ACT protects more of its land as public open space than any other Australian jurisdiction. It is estimated that no Canberran lives further than 3.5 kilometres from a nature reserve, national park or pine forest, with the average distance being only 977 metres.

    The ACT is also entrusted with the preservation of the largest patch of nationally endangered Yellow Box woodland in public hands and the largest patches of temperate native grassland left in Australia.

    Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve are part of the Australian Alps National Parks, a network of protected area that stretches from Mt Baw Baw in Victoria's Gippsland, along the roof of eastern Australia to Namadgi and Tidbinbilla in the ACT.

    Highlights:

    • Managing our parks and reserves is a partnership between government and the community. The 26 ParkCare Patch groups in the ACT who volunteer their time to protect, preserve and champion their local bush patch invested 24,532 hours, adding approximately $827,000 worth of value in community contribution to PCS work.
    • Two unique on-park properties, Nil Desperandum in Tidbinbilla and Ready Cut Cottage in Namadgi National Park, were promoted on Airbnb on a trial basis. During the trial, overall revenue increased by 120%, with visitors from Sri Lanka, Belgium, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the USA enjoying a unique Australian bush experience.
    • Planning to deliver the first ever 'glamping' experience in ACT Parks commenced through a partnership with Wildfest. Wildfest at Tidbinbilla - A Wild Night Out, a family glamping event with behind the scenes experiences on reserve, will be offered for the first time during the spring 2018 school holidays.
    • PCS supplied 24 staff for overseas deployment to British Columbia, Canada to help fight very large bushfires during the northern summer.
    • To better prepare the Territory for the upcoming bushfire season, over 700 specific activities were completed from prescribed burns to roadside grass slashing to stock grazing in strategic rural areas.
    • In protecting our water supply catchment and securing the water future of Canberra, restoration works targeting water quality outcomes progressed in the Lower Cotter Catchment as it continues a transition from commercial pine plantation to native forest and woodland.
    • A total of 380 metres of eroding gullies were repaired and 103 hectares of pine wilding controlled.
    • The Territory's softwood pine plantation makes up 3% of the Territory's land area and not only provides a renewable resource in timber, but an invaluable recreational destination for over 100 organised community activities.
    • Sustainable harvesting of mature plantations yielded 85,000 tonnes of sawlogs to local mills including the local Auswest Timbers mill in Fyshwick.
    • 320,000 seedlings were planted across 316 hectares and will be nurtured to maturity over 30–35 years, whereupon they will be harvested and replanting will restart the cycle.
    • Forestry delivered a $500,000 dividend to the ACT Treasury as a result of improved sales performance and reduced planting costs.

    Community and visitors

    This year saw an unprecedented shift in the commitment of PCS to 'community and visitor programs'. The community and visitor programs team designs the places and products that enhance the experiences of park visitors, volunteers on park or reserves and others involved in helping PCS fulfil its management objectives and get involved in the important work at PCS.

    Every strategy developed for volunteer and visitor experiences is anchored in the philosophy that people will get involved with PCS if they have:

    1. satisfying things to do
    2. the experience of trying something new and being good at it
    3. the chance to be a part of something bigger
    4. an opportunity to do these things with people they like.
    ParkCare

    The PCS Volunteer Management team amplified ParkCare after identifying limitations within the existing management systems and the potential to engage a new audience with the ability to reinvigorate the volunteer space.

    Highlights:

    • ParkCare underwent a transformation and now includes four specialist streams of volunteering providing opportunities for the community to get involved in environmental interpretation, caring for wildlife and working side by side with PCS staff.
    • The new RangerAssist stream of ParkCare was launched and included 72 volunteers contributing 1489 hours while working directly with PCS staff to add value to existing projects including kangaroo population surveys, track maintenance and revegetation works.
    • More than 70 volunteers received formal training including first aid, chemical application, interpretation training and invasive species identification.
    • Of the volunteers, 51% of registered volunteers are new to ParkCare, 41% are existing ParkCare Patch volunteers who are now registered and 8% are VisitorAssist volunteers.
    • Reaching a younger target audience, the average age of volunteers new to ParkCare is 35 while the overall average age of registered ParkCare volunteers is 50.
    • The Visitor Interpretation Program at Tidbinbilla and Namadgi was successfully integrated into the ParkCare Initiative and rebranded 'VisitorAssist'.
    • The PCS Volunteer Policy and Code of Conduct were reviewed and successfully audited against Volunteering Australia's National Standards for Volunteer Involvement.
    • The broadening of volunteer activities into RangerAssist space combined with the online presence of the program has increased the number and diversity of ParkCare volunteers.
    NatureStays

    In addition to promoting our two properties, Nil Desperandum and Ready Cut Cottage, PCS partnered with other providers to design and deliver compelling nature-based tourism experiences.

    Nature-Based Tourism

    PCS began engaging with private enterprise and tour operators to form partnerships to provide quality tourism products. In the absence of a commercial tour operator's licence system, which we are working on, we utilised the TCCS Public Land Use Permit system as a framework for operators. Contracts within the permit provide business certainty into the future, and guidelines for operators to work within.

    In conjunction with Visit Canberra and an external contractor, PCS embarked upon the development of an Ecotourism Strategy for the ACT. Actions may include enhancing existing and developing new ecotourism experiences, supporting and enabling infrastructure and services, and marketing and promotional initiatives. The final strategy will outline the potential economic benefits of ecotourism and provide recommendations, with a regional approach.

    Investment in Tidbinbilla

    With assistance from the ACT Government Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure Program (TDDI) and following on from the 2016–17 project, PCS delivered stage 2 of the TDDI project.

    Highlights:

    • PCS carried out appropriate Indigenous, heritage and community consultation to inform input into interpretive messaging and the development of a suite of core content factsheets. The factsheets will be used for staff and volunteer training, and commercial tour operators' familiarisation. Opening communication lines to help re-establish ongoing Indigenous connections with the park and increased opportunities for commercial Aboriginal tourism products was a critical component of our TDDI investment.
    • Working collaboratively with our community and staff, PCS identified future opportunities for visitor experience enhancements of the Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre; an architectural concept plan addresses visitor orientation, retail opportunity and amenity improvements.
    • Interpretation experts helped develop a Visitor Experience Concept Plan to strategically inform future infrastructure and interpretation projects.
    • PCS began capacity building for staff and volunteers through targeted interpretation and education training including Cultural Awareness and hospitality, leadership skills and customer service training; positive feedback has been received from visitors about our levels of service.
    • PCS assessed core markets and developed an engagement plan addressing the needs of the increasing Chinese tourism market, and invested in technology upgrades to enhance visitor engagement and education through the use of digital content, interactive displays and interface, electronic communication and interpretation.

    With this important foundational planning completed, Tidbinbilla is in a competitive position for developing exceptional visitor experiences for the next generation.

    Caring for Country

    Ongoing discussions and input from Aboriginal staff highlighted areas requiring improvement in Aboriginal community engagement and the management of Cultural Heritage on PCS managed lands. To address these areas PCS has made a strong commitment to improving how the agency engages and works with the Ngunnawal Aboriginal Community as well as the broader Aboriginal community within the ACT. PCS is working with ACT Heritage to develop a system that provides strengthened principles to guide and improve the management of Cultural Heritage.

    The Healthy Country Program (HCP) managed the Namadgi Rock Art Working Group, a collaborative partnership between PCS, ACT Heritage, United Ngunnawal Elders Council and the four ACT Heritage Representative Aboriginal Organisations (RAOs) that collectively implement a management and monitoring program for several rock art sites in Namadgi.

    The HCP Senior Ranger successfully delivered Ranger Guided Activities throughout the year. Sharing Aboriginal history and culture based on Ngunnawal knowledge and stories provides participants with an understanding of Aboriginal kinship, bush tucker and medicines, dispossession and dislocation of Aboriginal people, reconnecting to Country and culture, and Aboriginal land management. These activities are delivered at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Namadgi National Park and other nature reserves managed by PCS.

    The Murumbung Rangers participated in activities including tailored presentations and field trips for university students at ANU. One annual activity is a field trip to provide students undertaking the ANU Fire Ecology course to gain an understanding of how fire can be used in land management and for cultural purposes.

    The rangers also attended events in Canberra that provided an opportunity to speak to people one-on-one to share their knowledge and personal experiences in the work they undertake in land management.

    Highlights:

    • The Directorate commenced ongoing discussions with the signatories of the Namadgi Agreement signed in 2001. These discussions are focused on how the signatories would like to see the agreement evolve and how we work together to progress on Country initiatives.
    • Development and delivery of a pilot cultural program to help participants reconnect to Country and culture by engaging them in activities on Country and on site at the Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm.
    • With support from PCS Environmental Offsets team, HCP was able to engage Yurbay Consultancies to assist with a consultation project with local Traditional Custodians and others to develop a Ngunnawal framework of cultural/ecological guidelines for use in land management, conservation and interpretation programs.

    Managing bushfire

    An extensive ACT Bushfire Operational Plan (BOP) is prepared by the Directorate, which manages the majority of public land in the Territory. This BOP is prepared annually and made publicly available on the Directorate website. It has nine main sections that cover all areas of fire protection including fuel management, access management, infrastructure, equipment purchase, training, auditing and monitoring, planning and research, education and response capability.

    The Directorate's annual BOP is a yearly works program based on the activities identified in the more strategic Regional Fire Management Plans (RFMPs) that are developed by the Directorate every ten years (with a five year review) and cover the entire ACT. The RFMPs integrate landscape factors including soil type, vegetation, slope, threatened species, cultural issues, water quality and biodiversity into the one plan and program of activities.

    Highlights:

    Fuel management aims to reduce fire fuel loads to an acceptable level. Actions to achieve this fuel modification include slashing, prescribed burning, grazing, physical removal and chemical treatment of vegetation. A total of:

    • 4705 hectares of machine slashing of grass fuels across 245 sites was completed
    • 37 prescribed burns across an area of 2004 hectares were completed
    • 6041 hectares of strategic stock grazing across 73 sites was completed
    • 205 kilometres of road maintenance to our extensive fire trail network was completed
    • 87 hectares of dense pine wildling regrowth were treated at Blue Range in the Lower Cotter Catchment to reduce the risk of significant and devastating wildfire in this recovering landscape, which is essential to providing quality water to Canberra.
    Bushfire Response and Standby

    The 2017–18 bushfire season was characterised by a late start and a late finish with a patch of milder weather in the middle. During the season, the Directorate staff undertook fire standby on 48 days as follows:

    • 41 days of Level 2 (Fire Danger Index (FDI) 12 to 24)
    • 5 days of Level 3 (FDI 25 to 49)
    • 2 days of Level 4 (FDI 50 to 74)

    PCS supplied 24 staff for deployments to British Columbia for periods ranging from 21 to 39 days and a total of 756 days. PCS staff filled roles from the very top as the International Australian Liaison Officer for the largest ever Australian international wildfire deployment, to a number of fire crews on the ground in south-eastern and central British Colombia. This deployment occurred when we had minimal commitment to fires in and around the ACT and offered an invaluable opportunity to upskill and gain experience in large forest fires.

    Protecting our water supply

    In protecting our water supply catchment and securing the water future of the national capital, restoration works targeting water quality outcomes are progressing in the Lower Cotter Catchment as it continues transitioning from commercial pine plantation to native forest and woodland. Rehabilitation efforts are focused on erosion and sediment control, managing pest plants and feral animals, strategic revegetation, and enhancing opportunities for suitable recreation activities.

    Highlights:

    • 103 hectares of pine wilding control.
    • Erosion and sediment control projects focused on reducing sediment displacement by remediating eroding gullies, redundant roads and bare-ground hillslopes.
    • Pest plant management was directed primarily at blackberry and pine wilding, though considerable control works also targeted African Lovegrass, Serrated Tussock, willows, English Broom, briar species and a small infestation of Coolatai Grass.
    • Revegetation works—as part of specialist restoration projects or broadacre infill planting—comprised a diversity of species encompassing the entire structural and floristic composition of the relevant vegetation communities in which the works occurred.

    Plantation Forest – a renewable resource

    The Territory's plantation forests continued to deliver significant social and environmental outcomes. The pine plantations are perfect venues for high impact recreation activities not permitted in more sensitive areas such as nature reserves and national parks. PCS hosted a range of events from trails runs through to mountain bike events. The Territory's plantations contribute strongly to the environment by producing a renewable building material with low embodied energy that stores carbon for life.

    Highlights:

    • Harvesting of mature plantations at east Kowen continued throughout the year.
    • 85,000 tonnes of logs were delivered across seven customers including the Auswest Timbers sawmill in Fyshwick, four regional sawmills, an export yard operating from Goulburn and the Visy Pulp and Paper mill at Tumut.
    • The replanting at East Kowen included budget provision to use ground preparation machinery to clear new trail alignments for off-road cycling finished to international standards.

    Protecting our biosecurity and rural industries

    PCS is responsible for protecting the biosecurity of the ACT and supporting a sustainable rural industry, achieving off reserve conservation objectives and balancing environmental protection with sustainable agriculture.

    Highlights:

    • Work began on a new, modern ACT Biosecurity Act to address the shortcomings and weaknesses in the ACT Animal Diseases Act 2005, ACT Plant Diseases Act 2002 and the ACT Pest Plant and Animals Act 2005 and to strengthen the government's ability to respond to, control and/or eliminate biosecurity risks.
    • An additional $670,000 was provided for invasive weed control in nature reserves and national parks and catchments.
    • $137,000 was provided and 40 exotic plant insect pest traps placed around Canberra International Airport to address the increased airport biosecurity risks.
    • Traceability for sheep, cattle and pigs improved to comply with the National Livestock Traceability Performance Standards and Processing Standards for Meat and Meat Products.
      • PCS participated in the nationally co-ordinated jurisdictional audits of the performance of veterinary services.
      • PCS conducted a biosecurity emergency response exercise focussed on protecting our bees from exotic pests such as Varroa mite.
      • PCS engaged with NSW on cross-border emergency response exercises and training.
      • The ACT and Region Carp Biocontrol Taskforce was established and key stakeholder and community consultation undertaken to prepare for the proposed national release of carp herpesvirus for biocontrol.

    Managing our reserves

    Lower Cotter Catchment Reserve Management Plan 2018

    The Lower Cotter Catchment is public land reserved for the protection of water supply. The 2018 Lower Cotter Catchment Reserve Management Plan describes the values of the Lower Cotter Catchment, establishes management goals, objectives and policies, and identifies actions to achieve the objectives over a ten-year timeframe. The focus of the plan is the continued rehabilitation of the recovering landscape to safeguard water quality in the Cotter Reservoir while providing limited opportunities for low-impact recreational activities.

    The draft plan was available for public comment from 16 January to 10 March 2017 and 24 submissions were received. The Minister for the Environment and Heritage presented the final plan to the Legislative Assembly as a Disallowable Instrument on 20 February 2018.

    Draft Canberra Nature Park Reserve Management Plan

    A draft reserve management plan for Canberra Nature Park has been prepared. The draft plan includes management objectives, policies and priority actions, and provides summary profiles for each of the 37 nature reserves within Canberra Nature Park with reserve specific management priorities. Management zoning is proposed to protect environmentally sensitive areas, and the reserves are grouped into complexes based on geography and ecology, providing a landscape-scale perspective for operational programs.

    Relevant community organisations have been consulted, including ParkCare groups and recreation user groups, with further internal consultation being undertaken prior to release of the draft plan for public comment.

    Molonglo River Reserve Draft Reserve Management Plan

    A draft reserve management plan has been prepared for the Molonglo River Reserve. The draft plan was available for public comment from 8 February to 23 March 2018 and 21 submissions were received. A consultation report will be released later this year.

    Promoting compliance for conservation

    The Licensing and Compliance Team provides regulatory support to assist PCS's work to conserve, protect and enhance the biodiversity of the ACT. Some of the functions performed by the team include investigation of alleged offences, issuing nature conservation and fisheries licences, delivering compliance training, policy development and taking regulatory actions.

    Highlights:

    • Seizure of four highly invasive exotic reptiles.
    • Delivery of compliance and enforcement training to rangers.
    • 10 infringement notices issued for offences in nature reserves.
    • 12 formal warning letters issued for various offences.
    • Six Directions issued to repair damage to nature reserves.
    • 807 Nature Conservation and Fisheries licences issued (up from 542 in 2016–17).
    • Paper-based licences audited and digitised.

    Delivering improved animal health and welfare

    Veterinary Services continued to deliver animal health programs within the ACT including increasing the number of animal disease investigations, maintaining an appropriate level of emergency preparedness, providing extension services to rural landholders, improving traceability for livestock, promoting good farm biosecurity practices and advising on animal welfare issues.

    Highlights:

    • Participation in the nationally coordinated jurisdictional audits of the performance of veterinary services.
    • Increased engagement with rural landholders by supporting information sessions such as 'What you need to know about biosecurity plans' and 'Best Practice Pig Control', and actively promoting livestock disease investigations.

    Enhancing our parks and reserves

    A range of projects were delivered across the PCS estate from modernisation of the Mitchell Depot, remediation investigation works through to river and woodland restoration. Establishment of the Molonglo River Reserve continued in line with the
    ACT Government land release program.

    Tharwa fish habitat
    • Completed the construction of four new engineered log jams for native fish in the Murrumbidgee River corridor (Stage 2 implementation).
    • 145 dead trees and 3500 tonne of rock salvaged from development sites across Canberra were used for construction.
    Jarramlee Nature Reserve remediation
    • Detailed site investigations commenced to determine the nature and extent of ground subsidence across six hectares of the Jarramlee Nature Reserve. Technical investigations including soil, water and geophysical testing undertaken and preparation of an auditor approved Remedial Action Plan is in progress.
    Mulligans Flat predator proof fence extension
    • Constructed 13 creek crossings and 11,380 metres of new predator proof fence at Mulligans Flat to expand the existing 485 hectare sanctuary by 801 hectares to a total of 1286 hectares (a 165% increase).
    • The extended sanctuary will expand upon the protection and reintroduction of endangered flora and fauna at Mulligans Flat.
    Barrer Hill restoration site
    • 2000 plus native trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs planted at the Barrer Hill.
    • Design, fabrication and installation of five customised Ngunnawal totem signs at Barrer Hill showcase the unique native flora and fauna, as well as the continued cultural connections to the Molonglo River corridor.
    • A new lookout facility, including interpretive signage and restoration plantings was constructed at Barrer Hill to manage public access, enhance conservation values and encourage low impact recreational opportunities near sensitive habitat.
    Jerrabomberra Wetlands education and community centre upgrades
    • An unused demountable building on site has been renovated to provide an operations base for ACT Wildlife.
    • The Jerrabomberra Wetlands PCS Office received upgrades to the exterior of the building with the construction of a new deck.
    • The existing carpark was repaired and formalised.

    Forward priorities

    In 2018–19, the focus will be on:

    • introduction of new biosecurity legislation for the ACT
    • conducting a mid-term review of the ACT Pest Animal Management Strategy
    • commencing work to review the ACT Weeds Strategy
    • completing the review of the Canberra Nature Park plan of management
    • engaging with the community to raise awareness of biosecurity
    • commencing planning work on a new iconic multi-use recreational trail for the ACT with a particular emphasis on its suitability for mountain biking
    • planting 600,000 new seedlings into our plantation forestry estate.

    For further information contact:

    Ian Walker
    Executive Director, Environment
    02 6205 9027
    IanS.Walker@act.gov.au

    Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme

    The Directorate is responsible, through the Asbestos Response Taskforce (the Taskforce), for delivering the Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme (the Scheme). The Scheme is voluntary and provides a comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate response to the health, social, financial and practical consequences of the contamination of 1023 affected residential premises in the ACT.

    Under the Taskforce's governance framework, the Scheme is divided into four phases: assistance; buyback; demolition; and sales.

    Since its establishment in June 2014, the Taskforce has developed and implemented processes to deliver quality outcomes at each phase of the Scheme. With the vast majority of homeowners and affected properties now through the early stages of assistance and buyback, this year saw a focus on confirming the support needs of affected homeowners, progressing available properties through demolition, developing ways forward for the complex properties, and delivering an effective sales program.

    This work continued to be carried out under a robust governance structure that looks to identify and manage risk appropriately while delivering on the Scheme outcomes safely, efficiently and effectively.

    The Taskforce is now aligned with the Urban Renewal stream of the Directorate. This reflects the evolution of the Scheme and progress towards the sales phase, characterised by the construction of new homes and the renewal of affected streets.

    The cost of the Scheme was initially estimated to be $1 billion, with the net cost after sales expected to be $400 million. The government has updated the budget estimates associated with the Scheme to reflect the outcomes achieved to date. Largely due to the achievement of economies of scale through the program, as well as efficiencies in demolition methodologies and a stronger property market, the expected net cash cost has improved to $295 million (2018–19 Budget Paper No.3 p.404 Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme).

    Informing and supporting homeowners, residents and the community

    The Taskforce's embedded Personal Support Team helps homeowners and residents with information and links to supports and services. Particular focus has been on finalising personal case files where ongoing support is no longer required. This includes assistance in reestablishing programs of support when services have been disrupted as a result of moving out of their previous service provision area, with the Taskforce advocating on the behalf of the homeowner with the service provider responsible for servicing the region they now reside in.

    The Taskforce continues to keep the community informed about the progress of the Scheme and particularly the demolition program. Throughout the program, the Taskforce has maintained, as its priority, compassionate engagement with the ACT community in relation to the implementation of the Scheme. Neighbour engagement, in the form of letterbox drops and door knocking, has been undertaken at numerous stages of the program, including when a contractor is appointed for demolition, when the block is deregistered, and in relation to development applications where required.

    Complex properties

    With the bulk of standard single dwelling demolitions completed in 2017, the Taskforce focus shifted to preparing for the demolition of properties with additional complexities. The identified 53 properties (38 affected and 15 impacted) fell into 6 categories of complexity:

    • Duplex
    • Dual Occupancy Non Unit-titled
    • Shared Garages
    • Dual Occupancy
      Unit-titled
    • Strings
    • Unit Complexes

    Each category presents different complexities. Some can be managed through additional engagement, administrative processes to meet the requirements of the Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011, or through a development application process. Other categories need input from asbestos assessors, structural engineers and demolition contractors to develop an adjusted demolition methodology that will deliver safe and efficient demolition.

    Good progress was made this year, with 17 complex properties (15 affected and 2 impacted) demolished.

    Sales

    Seven auctions were held, with 387 remediated blocks offered to the market. The number and location of properties varied at each auction and consequently clearance rates varied. Blocks not sold at auction became available for sale 'over the counter' and sold steadily in the weeks following each auction.

    380 blocks were sold during the financial year. The Taskforce has extended Colliers International's contract for six months to sell the remaining properties that have since—or will—become available for sale between 30 June 2018 and 1 January 2019.

    As at 30 June 2018, 104 blocks remained available over the counter, with 20 under offer.

    Highlights

    • 1078 Relocation Assistance Grants have been paid to the value of $12.1 million.
    • After successful management by the Taskforce's Personal Support Team, case files have been closed for the personal support of 709 homeowners and tenants who have been identified as no longer requiring outstanding support needs.
    • 943 affected houses and 11 impacted dwellings have been acquired by the government at a cost of $682.4 million.
    • 929 properties have been safely demolished (927 affected and two impacted) using licensed asbestos removalists and assessors, and licensed demolition contractors regulated and monitored by WorkSafeACT. A further 12 have been demolished through assisted private demolition and 10 privately.
    • Demolition costs per house have reduced by over 30% since the pilot demolition program began in July 2015. This is due to economies of scale achieved through the program and efficiencies through the introduction of improved demolition methodologies and sharing of good practice by the Taskforce and its head contractors.
    • 945 remediated blocks have been removed from the Affected Residential Premises Register established under the Dangerous Substances Act 2004.
    • 623 offers to sell remediated blocks to former owners have been made under the First Right of Refusal arrangements, with 45 sales completed.
    • 739 remediated blocks with total sales value of $492.1 million have been sold: 45 under First Right of Refusal; 5 to Housing ACT; and 689 through the public sales program.
    • Homeowners, tenants, neighbours and the community have been engaged using a variety of engagement tools to ensure they were aware of activities such as demolition, deregistration and sales.

    Forward Priorities

    In 2018–19, focus will be on:

    • providing personalised support to affected homeowners around the demolition program and the First Right of Refusal process
    • closing personal support cases for homeowners who have indicated they no longer require Taskforce assistance
    • progressing work on complex properties, noting that some of this work is expected to take an extended period of time as individual circumstances of each property are understood and appropriate analysis undertaken to ensure a safe and efficient demolition
    • delivering a strong sales program through
      • First Right of Refusal offers to former homeowners
      • sale of remediated blocks to the public
    • supporting WorkSafeACT to monitor compliance with the requirement for homeowners of affected properties to maintain an active Asbestos Management Plan.

    For further information contact:

    Bruce Fitzgerald
    Executive Director, Urban Renewal
    02 6207 8294
    Bruce.Fitzgerald@act.gov.au

    Land Policy

    Land Release

    The government's land release program sets out the intended land releases over the coming four year period. The program delivered our strategic planning directions for building a sustainable, compact and well-connected city and promoting housing choice and affordability.

    The Suburban Land Agency and City Renewal Authority are responsible for delivering the land release program and the Directorate prepared the program in consultation with these agencies.

    The Directorate analyses the supply of dwellings being planned for and built across greenfield land and Canberra's urban areas. This information is used to model residential demand and supply as part of forecasting future demand and setting an appropriate residential program of releases.

    The Directorate maintains a forum with industry stakeholders across the residential and commercial spectrum as part of ensuring that the program reflects a strong and current understanding of market conditions.

    Highlights:

    • Publication of the Indicative Land Release Program 2018–19 to 2021–22. Over four years the government will release 17,000 dwellings sites, 236,990m2 of mixed use land, 117,500m2 of commercial land, 333,000m2 of community and non-urban land and 110,000m2 of industrial land.
    • Greenfield releases will continue in Gungahlin, Molonglo and West Belconnen. The first release of land in Canberra's newest suburb, Whitlam, is scheduled for 2018–19.
    • The program provides for three government school sites—in Whitlam, East Gungahlin and West Belconnen—as well as a non-government school site in Wright.
    • The new Land and Property report provides the public with information on land supply and prices. The report will be published regularly.

    Affordable Housing and Land Policy

    The Directorate worked closely with the community, building and development sectors in developing a new Housing Strategy. The Directorate also focused effort on implementing a range of early actions to improve affordable housing options for ACT households in the lowest 40% of incomes. A range of Land Policy reforms progressed, including:

    • commencing a review of policy governing direct sale of non-contiguous land to not-for-profit community organisations to ensure a more equitable and transparent process, and to ensure that the best whole-of-community benefit is derived from land that is granted at less than market value
    • continuing to progress work on strata reform to implement a better legislative framework to allow developers, business owners and residents to share spaces, facilities, costs and services in a fair and structured way.

    Highlights:

    • Release of the discussion paper Towards a New Housing Strategy, which elicited hundreds of individual comments throughout consultation (July to October 2017). More than 125 organisations participated in 26 workshops, 166 online surveys were completed, 129 people attended six community drop-in sessions and the government received 80 submissions on the discussion paper.
    • The inaugural Housing and Homelessness Summit on 17 October 2017 saw 200 representatives from across community, industry and government come together to refine ideas generated throughout the consultation process.
    • An Affordable Housing Advisory Group was convened to provide an independent perspective and share ideas of the challenges of housing affordability and the responses that might be considered in the strategy. The group met nine times throughout the financial year and played an important role in guiding the community engagement process.
    • A report on the community engagement, What we heard - Developing a new Housing Strategy for the ACT, was tabled in the Legislative Assembly and released on the website on 20 March 2018.
    • To maintain an adequate supply of affordable housing options and improve the geographic spread and diversity of affordable housing, the inaugural targets for affordable, community and public housing required under the City Renewal Authority and Suburban Land Agency Act 2017 were determined for 2017-18 and notified 20 February 2018. The target provides for 353 dwellings for affordable home purchase, 143 dwellings for public housing and 34 dwellings for registered community housing providers to deliver affordable rental opportunities from within the government's infill and greenfield land release program for 2017–18.
    • To ensure the dedicated affordable homes under the targets are purchased by people in the lowest two income quintiles, the government introduced clear eligibility criteria for purchasers, relating to household income levels, property ownership, residence and registration on a government database.
    • A Home Purchase Registration Database was established to enable dedicated affordable housing to be better controlled, with sales of these homes available only to approved registered households. As at 30 June 2018, 717 expressions of interest were registered on the Database.
    • A $1 million Affordable Housing Innovation Fund was established to support innovative projects that aim to increase the supply of affordable housing for low income households. An Expression of Interest for first round funding under the Innovation Fund opened on 5 April 2018 and closed on 11 May 2018. Ten applications were received and reviewed by an evaluation panel, which recommended applicants for funding under two categories—an Affordable Rental Real Estate Management Model and a Co-Housing development project.

    Forward priorities

    In 2018–19, the focus will be on:

    • monitoring and supporting the implementation of the land release program, and varying releases where required
    • developing the land release program for 2019–20 to 2022–23
    • reforming ACT strata laws and policies to support and maximise mixed-use development in the Territory
    • developing a new policy framework for the sale of land to not-for-profit community organisations
    • developing and delivering a new Housing Strategy
    • delivering a second grant round under the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund
    • continuing to implement the Affordable Home Purchase Scheme, transfer land to public housing and release land to community housing providers to deliver the Housing Targets set under the City Renewal Authority and Suburban Land Agency Act 2017
    • responding to and delivering government priorities and emerging policy issues.

    For further information contact:

    Simon Tennent
    A/g Director, Land Development Projects
    02 6205 4961
    Simon.Tennent@act.gov.au

    Urban Renewal

    The Directorate focuses on urban renewal as a mechanism to improve the liveability of our city, drive economic activity, build on the character of our community and deliver sustainable development. The Urban Renewal Branch is responsible for the delivery of complex urban renewal projects involving multiple policy outcomes, including:

    • coordination of the Asset Recycling Initiative and Public Housing Renewal programs, Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme and Demonstration Housing project
    • assessment and preparation of due diligence analysis for land proposed for sale
    • coordination with the Commonwealth Government on Defence land negotiations
    • facilitation of direct sales and strategic acquisitions to achieve policy outcomes on behalf of government.

    Public Housing Renewal Program

    The Public Housing Renewal Taskforce is delivering 1288 replacement public housing dwellings that will better meet the needs of tenants, now and into the future, as part of the ACT Government's public housing renewal program. This program supports the replacement of Canberra's aging public housing stock with properties that better align with the needs and aspirations of public housing tenants, improving energy efficiency and helping to reduce utility and living costs.

    The program, which began in 2014–15, is on track for completion by 30 June 2019.

    Highlights:

    • The Public Housing Renewal Taskforce exceeded its targets for 2017–18 by:
      • delivering 270 dwellings to Housing ACT and
      • entering into contracts for the delivery of a further 434 dwellings.
    • All dwellings designed and constructed by the Taskforce have met either adaptable housing or Liveable Gold standards that support tenants with a disability and allow ageing in place.
    • All replacement properties are being delivered in conjunction with the National Partnership Agreement on the Asset Recycling Initiative.

    Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme

    The Directorate is responsible, through the Asbestos Response Taskforce (the Taskforce), for implementing the Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme (the Scheme). Alignment with the urban renewal stream of the Directorate reflects, in part, the changing priorities of the Taskforce, particularly the sale of remediated blocks that signals the start of the construction of new homes and the renewal of affected streets.

    Please refer to Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication for more information.

    Strategic project delivery

    The Urban Renewal Branch facilitates the delivery of complex urban renewal projects once policy direction and government priorities have been established; and coordinates this direction in conjunction with other work undertaken within and outside the directorate.

    Highlights:

    • Coordination of the Asset Recycling Initiative program, including finalisation of the Red Hill Estate Development Plan process and release of the site to market.
    • Commencement of the Demonstration Housing Project alongside the Housing Choices policy review, including release of an Expression of Interest for proposals.
    • Commencement of an Estate Development Plan for Section 72 Dickson.

    Comprehensive due diligence on urban projects

    As part of the restructure of governance for land development in the ACT, the due diligence function was transferred to the Directorate. The Urban Renewal Branch undertakes and co-ordinates due diligence on urban renewal sites being managed within and outside the directorate. The main objective of due diligence is to de-risk sites so that government release, financial and policy objectives are met.

    Highlights:

    • Demolition was finalised for Red Hill Precinct and commenced for Macarthur House and the tender released for a demolition contractor for Northbourne Flats Braddon & Turner.
    • Due diligence assessments were completed:
      • for a site in Ngunnawal to enable the release of a major site for an aged care development
      • on a number of surplus government property sites to enable their future release to the market.
    • New sites for the Public Housing Renewal Taskforce were serviced, including sites in Wright, Chapman and Mawson.

    Direct sales

    The Directorate commenced a review of policy governing direct sale of non-contiguous land to not-for-profit community organisations to ensure a more equitable and transparent process, and to ensure the best whole-of-community benefit is derived from land which is granted at less than market value. The government has suspended consideration of all new and existing community direct sale applications for non-contiguous land because of the ongoing review; the Minister wrote to existing applicants on 8 May 2018
    informing them of the suspension. Please refer to Land Policy for more information.

    The Urban Renewal Branch facilitated a number of significant direct sales including:

    • the direct sale of Block 2 Section 33 Moncrieff to the Canberra Muslim Youth (CMY) Incorporated to establish an educational facility
    • the direct sale of Block 1601 Belconnen (now known as Block 1635) to the Electricity Transmission Ministerial Holding Corporation to establish a new switching station designed to facilitate the ACT's second electricity supply
    • the direct sale of Block 1 Section 46 Throsby to the Capital Woodland and Wetlands Conservation Association Incorporated to establish a land management facility and outdoor recreation and education establishment.

    Coordination with City Renewal Authority and Suburban Land Agency

    The City Renewal Authority (the Authority) is a Territory authority established under the City Renewal Authority and Suburban Land Agency Act 2017. The Authority is responsible for delivering the government's urban renewal agenda within the boundaries of any declared urban renewal precinct(s). The Authority must operate commercially in accordance with sound risk management practices.

    The Suburban Land Agency (the Agency) is a Territory authority established under the City Renewal Authority and Suburban Land Agency Act 2017. The Agency must work with any entity that has an interest in land that the agency intends to buy, sell, improve or develop to encourage cohesive suburban development.

    The Urban Renewal Branch coordinates with both the Authority and the Agency on projects relating to the Asset Recycling Initiative program and urban renewal.

    Highlights:

    • Asset Recycling Initiative - Market Release of Red Hill Precinct
    • Asset Recycling Initiative—Sale and Settlement of the Dickson Motor Vehicle Inspection Station Site
    • Asset Recycling Initiative—Market release of Northbourne Flats Braddon and Turner

    Forward Priorities

    In 2018–19, focus will be on completing the Asset Recycling Initiative program, which finalises in June 2019

    For further information contact:

    Bruce Fitzgerald
    Executive Director, Urban Renewal
    02 6207 8294
    Bruce.Fitzgerald@act.gov.au

    Footnotes

    1. Statement of Planning Intent | Return to content.
    2. Public Housing Renewal Taskforce and Housing ACT were involved in all assets relating to the relocation of public housing tenants. However, they were not involved in non-public housing assets such as Macarthur House, Dame Pattie Menzies House or the Dickson Motor vehicle inspection station site, for example. | Return to content.
    3. Statement of Planning Intent (2015) - Mick Gentleman (Minister for Planning) | Return to content.
    3b. Statement of Planning Intent (2015) - Mick Gentleman (Minister for Planning) | Return to content.