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Sustainability is a broad concept that encompasses balancing economic, social and environmental considerations to ensure a healthy and sustainable future. Sustainability is based on evaluating how things are currently done, what are the impacts of continuing in this way, and how things can be done differently to lessen the impacts. Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) is a key term in today’s society. ESD is defined as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs’ (World Commission, 1987).
Council has adopted "Guidelines for integrating the principles of ecologically sustainable development into Councils activities". The document includes more than 200 task guidelines that direct how Council may undertake work un a more sustainable manner.
An amending regulation was passed in 1997 to the Local Government Act that aims at establishing an effective approach to Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD) within Council’s activities. The Local Government Act now includes consideration of ESD principles in the following sections:
· Section 7 (purposes of the Act) – requires councils, councillors and employees to have regard to ESD principles in carrying out all of their responsibilities.
· Section 8 (Council's charter) - now includes the duty "to manage, develop, protect, restore, enhance and conserve the environment of the area for which it is responsible, in a manner that is consistent with and promotes the principles of ecologically sustainable development".
· Section 89 – which provides that councils must have regard to the principles of ESD when determining applications for approval; and
· Section 403(2) – which specifies that in preparing its draft management plan the council must consider "activities to properly manage, protect, restore, enhance and conserve the environment in a manner that is consistent with and promotes the principles of ESD".
In accordance with the Local Government Act the council must consider its most recent Comprehensive State of the Environment report when preparing the part of its draft management plan dealing with environmental protection activities.
Shoalhaven City Council has made numerous positive steps towards sustainability. ESD is now addressed throughout the organisation at all levels both formally and informally.
As discussed above Council is refining the SoE indicators and implementing a new reporting framework so that we can gain a better insight into our progress towards sustainability and where we need to implement improvements. Link to Proposed actions
Shoalhaven Cityplan identifies the objectives and strategies that Council will use to guide the future direction of our City. A major part of Cityplan has been designed to ensure that Council balances the needs of the environment, economy and the community and meets the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD).
Shoalhaven City Council’s Management Plan includes a strategy to integrate the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development into all Council’s planning, decision-making and actions. A number of tasks have been identified to ensure that Council meets and embraces its ESD obligations under the Local Government Act. These are:
1. Ensure that Council meets and embraces its ESD obligations under the Local Government Act through:
2. Groups identifying tasks from the adopted ESD guidelines and reporting on their progress;
a. Ecological Integrity
i. A major thrust of the Citywide Growth Management Strategy will be to retain and manage the ecological values of the City;
ii. Respond to complaints regarding erosion and sediment control, vegetation clearing, or pollution incidents and follow up with appropriate action;
iii. Work with Natural Resources & Floodplain management committee for the Shoalhaven River to investigate and prepare plans for the proper management and protection of the estuary;
iv. Work with Ulladulla Harbour & Millards Creek Natural Resource Floodplain Management Committee for Ulladulla Harbour to investigate and prepare plans for the proper management and protection of the Harbour & Millards Creek;
v. Continue to investigate and trial alternative monitoring methods to identify changes in the catchment more readily and understand critical inputs, in preparation for sustainability assessments;
vii. Continue to monitor the condition of waterways and revise schedule as necessary to incorporate new indicators from trial projects;
viii. Carry out 1000 inspections of on-site Sewage Management Facilities, targeted to identify high risk areas;
ix. Re-use biosolids and reclaimed water for agricultural purposes.
b. Social Integrity
i. Major review of Section 94 Contributions Plan will realign provision of public facilities with continuing growth;
ii. Assess the current usage patterns and types of usage and the needs of the user groups including working with key stakeholders;
iii. Encourage major new commercial and retail development to provide suitable access and facilities for women, families and youth within development;
iv. Provide equitable access to water and wastewater services at an affordable cost.
i. The Sussex Inlet Settlement strategy and the Nowra Bomaderry Structure Plan will look at opportunities for urban consolidation, efficient provision of infrastructure and creation of employment opportunities;
ii. Continue to actively promote and market the Shoalhaven as a vibrant regional business/industrial centre, where a relaxed lifestyle and protection of the environment are important in attracting new employment generators to the area;
iii. Ensure there is an adequate supply of land zoned for industrial & commercial uses throughout the Shoalhaven to meet projected demand taking into account the Employment Lands Strategy being carried out by the Southern Council’s Group;
iv. Use media campaigns to promote the efficient use of water.
i. Develop Xeriscape gardens over traditional rose and cottage gardens;
ii. Eliminate the use of plastic bags at Shoalhaven Visitors Centres;
iii. Explore more opportunities for the use of non potable water for irrigation of sports grounds;
iv. Encourage the use of electronic technology to reduce reliance on hard paper copy and record storage for Council documents;
v. Continue the electronic storage of paper based documents;
vi. Continue to purchase fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles for Council’s fleet;
vii. Review the number of hard copy business papers provided for Council and Committee meetings and replace with electronic copies where practical;
viii. Reduce physical resource duplication by working co-operatively with stakeholders to ensure minimum resource allocation for maximum impact;
ix. Continue to work on the rehabilitation program in the Aquatic facilities subject to Council endorsement of funding consistent with ESD principles.
x. Implement Basix sustainability requirements;
xi. Ensure effective operation of re-use projects such as REMS, the Bomaderry tea tree plantation and biosolids strategy;
xii. Undertake and report on “Waterwise” activities;
xiii. Implement actions in the Demand Management Strategy;
xiv. Influence consumer water demands by using customer education programs and cost reflective pricing policies;
i. Adopt and exhibit an issues paper highlighting conservation and settlement trends and prepare and exhibit a draft management strategy based on findings from the issues paper process;
ii. Continue to investigate and monitor simple indicators of changes over time eg vegetation cover, habitat and riparian vegetation;
iii. Continue the review of environmental factors for all relevant activities.
As a result of this strategy in Shoalhaven City Council’s Management Plan, Council adopted the document “Guidelines for the Integration of Principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development into Shoalhaven City Council’s activities” (.pdf version 1.4 Mb) in June 2003. The document includes more than 200 task guidelines that direct how Council may undertake work in a more sustainable manner. Some task guidelines reflect existing work practices, while others aim to bring current work practices more in line with sustainability principles. The document also identifies the ESD Component (Biodiversity, Ecological Integrity, Economic Viability, Social Integrity or Natural Capital) that tasks are linked to. This has been done to try to get sections within Council to address the different aspects of ESD rather than focus in a single area.
Each of the major groups within Council has an identified ESD Co-ordinator who is responsible for the implementation of the guidelines within their group. In order to track the implementation of the guidelines and Council’s progress towards sustainability, tasks from each group are reported on quarterly as part of Council’s Management Plan.
Council continues to identify and implement actions that contribute towards a more sustainable City. Through addressing the principles of ESD in all work, staff will gain a greater understanding of ESD and promote it to the wider community through leading by example. This creates a greater overall awareness of why a sustainable future is important.
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