Environmental management

Sustainability

The Local Government Act 1993 states ecologically sustainable development requires the effective integration of economic and environmental considerations in decision-making processes. The Integrated Planning and Reporting framework also requires councils to address social, environmental, economic and civic leadership issues in an integrated way. The local government reform process offers an opportunity to review and update programs to improve management practices, find cost savings and engage with the community. Resources and case studies are available on the environment policy section and the ecologically sustainable development policy section of the LGNSW website.

Climate Change

Climate change has the potential to damage council assets, cause serious disruptions to the delivery of council services, generate unbudgeted financial impacts and affect the wellbeing of the community, particularly those vulnerable to weather extremes. There are a range of actions that councils can take to plan, mitigate and respond to climate change and the reform process is an opportunity to introduce climate change management better practice. Resources and case studies are available on the climate change policy section of the LGNSW website.

Natural Resource Management

Councils have a wide range of responsibilities regarding Natural Resource Management (NRM), including those defined in the Charter of the Local Government Act 1993. Councils recognise the importance of long term planning when managing natural resources, e.g. water, reserves, and wildlife and generational impact. As Local Control Authorities, councils also have specific responsibilities under the NSW Noxious Weeds Act 1993.

Local Government reform is an opportunity to introduce better practice management and ensure natural resources are enjoyed both now and into the future. Resources and case studies are available on the NRM policy section of the LGNSW website.

Biodiversity

State Government policy encourages councils to prepare Local Biodiversity Strategies to inform local land use planning. Local Biodiversity Strategies provide for strategic and transparent consideration of biodiversity in decision making, reserve management and support for private land conservation and volunteering in natural resource management.

Coastal Management

Coastal management in NSW is also being reformed. Those councils that have certified Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMP) in place when the new Coastal Management Act commences, or that have submitted plans to the Minister for certification by that time, will be able to transition their CZMPs into new Coastal Management Plans under a staged process, and will have until 2021 to be fully compliant. The Coastal Management Program (CMP) will be implemented through the Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework. Under the Local Government reform process, consultation for the new CMP can happen alongside consultation for Community Strategic Planning.

Asbestos

While many councils in NSW have had extensive dealings with asbestos issues, it is possible that one or more of the councils involved in an amalgamation does not have policies and procedures in place to deal with asbestos. This should become evident during the early stages of review and documentation of the merging councils’ current state. Councils are encouraged to adopt an asbestos policy based on the Model Asbestos Policy for NSW Councils which was issued to all councils under section 23A of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW). This Model Asbestos Policy has been developed to assist NSW councils to formulate an asbestos policy and to promote a consistent approach to asbestos management by Local Government across NSW.

Stage 1 - Review

  • Establish a working group with relevant staff including environment, open space, catchment managers, engineers, water utility staff, planners etc. Critical paths and/or timelines to be established.

Natural Resource Management

  • Identify and review all NRM related strategies and plans. A range of NRM plans will need to be updated and integrated into the new Delivery Plan, including Plans of Management for Community Land, Stormwater Management Plans, Catchment Management Plans, Coastal and Estuary Management Plans, Floodplain Management Plans, Noxious Weed Plans etc. Consider Local Land Services’ Local Strategic Plans and Bushcare and Landcare Groups.
  • Develop integration links within the IP&R Framework.
  • Gather and review available NRM monitoring data to assess environmental quality.
  • Gather and review better practice scenarios for the new entity.
  • Regarding Bushcare, Landcare and other volunteer groups, communicate a clear statement emphasising the important and valued contribution of volunteers.

Local biodiversity strategies

  • Identify, document and review all current local biodiversity strategies. Identify unique place management issues.
  • Gather and review available biodiversity monitoring data to identify trends.

Sustainability

  • Identify and review all Sustainability and/or Environment Strategies or related policies and plans. This could include sustainable event policies, resource conservation strategies including energy, water and waste; urban forestry, buy-local and sustainable purchasing policies, education for sustainability community programs, sustainable food/community garden programs etc.
  • Develop integration links within the IP&R Framework.

Climate Change

  • Identify and review climate change risk assessment and council’s risk register.
  • Identify and review climate change strategies including adaptation plans, mitigation strategies or related plans.
  • Develop integration links within the IPR Framework.

Carbon management and greenhouse gas emission

  • Collate and review all relevant plans and information.

Stage 2 - Plan

Natural Resource Management

  • Identify gaps and areas where existing strategies/plans can be extended for the new entity.
  • Document the scope of work to be undertaken including activities, responsibilities and timeframes.
  • Consolidate strategies and plans and all associated policies (if applicable) and develop new strategies / plans in line with CSP. The reform process is an opportunity for councils to introduce best practice into their everyday business.
  • Extend strategies/ plans coverage area in line with new entity.
  • For volunteer groups, develop and implement an induction program and manual.

Local biodiversity strategies

Sustainability

  • Identify gaps and areas where existing strategies/plans can be extended for the new entity.
  • Document the scope of work to be undertaken including activities, responsibilities and timeframes.
  • Collate, review and combine all relevant plans and information, incorporating links to CSP.

Climate Change

Carbon management and greenhouse gas emission

  • Consider updating current policies and plans or develop a new strategy for the merged council.

Stage 3 - Mobilise

Natural Resource Management

  • Integrate the revised natural resource management strategies / plans into the land using planning processes.
  • Integrate revised natural resource management plans / priorities with key overarching land use plans.
  • Identify any budget implications including opportunities to apply for external funding.
  • Integrate actions into the Delivery Program and Operational Plan.

Local biodiversity strategies

  • Integrate revised plans / priorities with key overarching land use plans and reserve management plans.
  • Identify any budget implications including opportunities to apply for external funding.
  • Integrate actions into the Delivery Program and Operational Plan.

Sustainability

  • Combine all relevant plans and information, incorporating links to CSP.

Climate Change

  • Identify and review climate risks and risk minimisation strategies that council might already be addressing and identify gaps in risk treatments.
  • Update the new entity’s Risk Register.
  • Develop a climate change adaptation strategy/plan based on climate risk treatments. See the Office of Environment Heritage's adaptation planning webpage
  • Identify any budget implications including opportunities to apply for external funding.
  • Integrate actions into the Delivery Program and Operational Plan.

Carbon management and greenhouse gas emission

  • Combine all relevant plans and information or finalise the new strategy.
  • Develop a monitoring and reporting platform e.g. from energy and water savings.
  • Identify any budget implications including opportunities to apply for external funding.
  • Integrate actions into the Delivery Program and Operational Plan.

Stage 4 - Implement

Natural Resource Management

  • Commence implementation of the new strategies and plans.
  • Consolidate policies and prepare for adoption (if applicable).
  • Implement a communications plan/s.

Local biodiversity strategies

Sustainability

  • Commence implementation of the new strategies and plans.
  • Prepare policy for adoption.
  • Implement a monitoring and reporting framework. Ensure alignment of new plans with the IP&R Framework.
  • Implement a communications plan.

Climate Change

  • Commence implementation of the new strategies and plans.
  • Prepare policy for adoption (if applicable).
  • Implement a communications plan.

Carbon management and greenhouse gas emission

  • Commence implementation of new strategies and plans.
  • Commence monitoring and reporting.
  • Implement training programs and inductions to the new model.