FOBIF has made a number of specific suggestions in its submission to the MAS Shire council draft environment strategy. Readers will remember we criticised the draft strategy for being abstract and general…tending to waffle, in fact.
The substance of the FOBIF submission is set out below:
‘We understand that a strategy designed to direct council activities for 10 years should be general and flexible enough to accommodate changed circumstances. Nevertheless, we are disappointed by the extreme vagueness of parts of the document.
‘We would like to make the following points:
- ‘On pages 10 and 12 reference is made to the ESD [‘ecologically sustainable development’] leadership, the ESD team, and the Council’s Green Team. Who are they? The fact that these terms are not defined makes the authority structure of the document quite vague.
- ‘Page 11: Council leadership by example: ‘appropriate ecotechnologies such as LED streetlights, and using Council’s unique statutory responsibilities to further ESD aims e.g. rate rebates for properties with a conservation covenant in place.’
‘We believe such aims need to be carefully thought through in the detail. For example, we would suggest that rate rebates should be considered for any landholder with positive conservation practices. The singling out of covenanted properties is certain to create counterproductive social tension, and would effectively penalise farmers with good land management practices.
- ‘Page 16, Priority area 4: Waste management. These aims are very laudable. We believe they should be made more substantial by the addition of some very specific objectives—for example
–‘Council will engage with local schools and community organisations to try to reduce the scourge of illegal rubbish dumping.
–‘Council will engage with local businesses and adjoining municipalities to investigate whether a plastic bag free zone can be established in Central Victoria, as has been done in other parts of Australia
–‘Council will look again at the possibility of green waste collections, as a way of reducing the dumping of harmful weed material in our bushlands. Council will investigate the viability of a free tip voucher for residents with the same aim.
- ‘Page 18: Protect and manage priority natural environment assets: Once again, these objectives are fine, but vague. We would suggest the addition of specific objectives, for example:
–‘ensure that council road maintenance machinery is scrupulously cleaned, to avoid the spread of environmental weeds, as has happened in the past
–‘carefully maintain bush roads under council management to avoid unnecessary damage to adjoining bushland, and unnecessary widening of such roads
–‘continue to actively encourage consolidation in township areas rather than expansion of towns, as a way of avoiding damaging development in fringe bushland areas.
‘We note that many of the areas gestured at vaguely in this document are actually discussed in more specific detail in the 2011-14 Environment Strategy. It is a pity that the current draft makes no attempt at a serious assessment of this document, and its predecessors: there is a real danger that these documents could become ends in themselves, without serious connection to action on the ground.’