Local Government Environment Awards

The Local Government Excellence in the Environment Awards were initiated in 1998 and are held annually. The Awards are open to all local government organisations in NSW.

The Awards culminate in two prestigious Local Sustainability Awards: one for overall council performance, and one to recognise the individual achievements of a council staff member or elected councillor in the field of sustainability.

2016 Winners

The 2016 awards were held at Doltone House, Sydney on 29 November.

View photos of the awards ceremony.

If using an image in your own publication or in the media, please acknowledge the copyright as being 'Photo by Eventpix' and ideally acknowledge the event as well.

For example: Photo by Eventpix, Local Government Excellence in the Environment Awards 2016 produced by LGNSW.

Asbestos Management

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils - Western Sydney Asbestos Answers Facebook campaign

For Asbestos Awareness Month 2015, the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils delivered a social media campaign targeting culturally and linguistically diverse communities living in Western Sydney's "fibro belt". 

Facebook's demographic targeting tools were used to promote multi-lingual videos and fact sheets. Results confirmed research that new migrants are more likely to access information through mobile devices and social media than via desktop.

The Asbestos Awareness posts reached close to 15,000 residents with over 8,000 views of the video in one week, costing only $800 to deliver.

Case Study (PDF , 55KB)

Climate Change Action

Joint Winners Division C and Overall Category Winners

Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Holroyd, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, The Hills, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith Councils - Light Years Ahead

The Light Years Ahead project in Western Sydney replaced close to 14,500 high emission mercury vapour street lights with energy efficient LED lighting.

With $5.2 million funding from the Australian Government, the 9 Western Sydney councils and the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils contributed a further $2.8 million.

This has achieved a 77 per cent saving in electricity costs and it is estimated that over the 20 year life of the lights, the 9 councils will save 19.4 million dollars.  The estimated reduction in carbon emissions over 20 years is 91,000 tonnes.

Case Study (PDF, 88KB)

Blacktown City Council - Cool streets

Blacktown City Council’s Cool Streets project was initiated to adapt residential streets to rising temperatures. With a population of 350,000 increasing by approximately 10,000 people each year, entire suburbs are being constructed in Blacktown to house new residents. Many new and existing streets are not designed to mitigate or adapt to climate change or urban heat.

Blacktown City Council engaged with the community about the benefits of street trees, especially in streets without trees.

Following community consultation, a whole street was planted with a tree design to lower surface temperatures, reduce home energy usage, sequester carbon and foster positive attitudes to urban vegetation.

Case Study (PDF, 217KB)

Highly Commended Division C

Hunter & Central Coast Regional Environmental Management Strategy - Regional heatwave resilience project

Major heatwaves have caused more deaths in Australia since 1890 than any other natural disaster.

This project raised awareness in councils and organisations that work closely with "at risk" communities and enhanced their capacity to respond to heatwaves. 

Funding was provided by the NSW Government's Community Resilience Innovation Program and project partners included the 14 Councils of the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid Coast region, two Local Health Districts and the Australian Red Cross.

Penrith City Council - Cooling the city

Penrith City Council developed a Cooling the City Strategy comprising over 50 actions for policy and planning, engagement, green infrastructure and water sensitive urban design.

Council used the CSIRO’s free thermal imagery to identify locations experiencing higher temperatures. Council overlaid data on transport corridors, schools, aged care facilities and socio-demographic information to identify areas of higher vulnerability to heat, and identified 9 hotspots deemed most at risk from heat exposure.

Interviews with local community service providers explored specific risks facing vulnerable groups and the strategies services providers have adopted to cope with heat. Funding for this project was provided by the Building Resilience to Climate Change program.

Communication, Education and Empowerment 

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

MIDWASTE - Frugal forest

MIDWASTE Regional Waste Forum, a voluntary organisation of eight Councils located on the Mid North Coast, created the Frugal Forest, a community arts project involving artists, musicians and scientists.

The Frugal Forest is an intricately detailed forest installation created entirely from materials diverted from landfill.

The project facilitated community engagement through a touring exhibition, 25 workshops in 8 council areas, artist talks, an online kit for local schools, short films, a website and Facebook page.

Case Study (PDF, 147KB)

Winner Division B

Leichhardt Municipal Council (Inner West Council) - On tour: sustainable food, fashion and fun!

With 43 per cent of the ecological footprint of residents being from food, Leichhardt Council revamped their online Sustainable Shopping Guide offering low environmental impact choices for food, fashion, furniture and packaging. 

The Guide was promoted via Instagram competitions, a Fashion Parade and two Shopping Safaris.  Other fun engagement methods included up-cycling tips, cooking, personal styling and blackboard 'selfie pledges' to encourage stakeholders to reduce their ecological footprint.

Of the almost 3000 people who visited the on-line Guide during promotions, 63 per cent returned to the site to use it again.

Highly Commended Division C

Rockdale City Council (Bayside Council) - Engaging the community: landing lights wetland restoration

Rockdale City Council used one of its most environmentally significant natural areas, Landing Lights wetland, as a focal point to further engage communities in environmental initiatives.

Council hosted 17 events including wetland tours, planting days and a bat spotting night. Council also created its first citizen science environmental project - a community bird watching and monitoring group. Bird identification signage was installed at the wetland and 4 YouTube videos were created.

Council partnered with Advance Diversity Services and gave translated presentations to a multi-cultural mothers’ group and translated wetland tours for Chinese and Nepalese grandparents.

Waverley Council - Second Nature 'I'm in' community engagement campaign

Following a desktop review of previous sustainability engagement projects, Waverly Council identified the need for a more strategic, consistent and targeted approach.  Social research including 500 responses to a community sustainability survey revealed community members had a strong appetite to act sustainably but were unsure how to act.

Council created Second Nature, with an initial 'I'm in' Pledge campaign, inviting locals to make sustainability second nature. The Second Nature campaign takes a "values" approach to engagement, focusing on the underlying values which shape behaviour.

Community Sharps Management

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

City of Ryde Council – Sharps Disposal

The City of Ryde is striving to minimise the amount of sharps in bins and in public places to protect the safety and wellbeing of the local community.

City of Ryde locals are now able to collect a free sharps disposal container from the Customer Service Desk. Once the sharps disposal containers are full residents can take the containers to any of twelve local pharmacies.

These free drop off sites make the free service accessible and convenient especially for residents with illnesses or diabetes.

Case Study (PDF, 99KB)

Invasive Species Management  

Winner Division A and Overall Category Winner

Palerang Council (Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council) - Weed identification and mapping from high resolution aerial photography

The project trialled the ability of an experienced weed inspector to identify and map noxious weeds from high resolution natural colour aerial imagery. Imagery was obtained from low-flying remote pilot aircraft with 2-5cm pixel resolution.

Most tree and shrub species were readily identified and many grass and forb species could also be mapped confidently. The trial has determined that suitable imagery obtained across larger areas can potentially replace on-ground inspections in many cases. This can improve the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of Council weed inspection programs.

Case Study (PDF, 183KB)

Winner Division B

Clarence Valley Council - Use of community based social marketing for effective tropical soda apple management

Clarence Valley Council, together with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, is using community based social marketing to tackle the incursion of Tropical soda apple on the north coast of NSW. Their strategy incorporates behavioural psychology techniques, including face-to-face interactions, prompts and feedback, goal setting, public and durable commitments, norming and social diffusion and message framing.

It is anticipated that the weed management program will see an increase in on-ground control efforts by landholders including cattle management. Pilot programs demonstrated immediate improvements and the program was rolled out across the Clarence Valley and the neighbouring council areas.

Winner Division C

Bankstown City Council (City of Canterbury-Bankstown) - Feral rabbit management in urban Bankstown

To develop a management plan for feral rabbits in the Milperra area, Bankstown Council undertook a risk management approach and consulted widely with other councils, Greater Sydney Local Land Services and consultants. 

Council had not previously undertaken an invasive pest management program, so briefings with Councillors, community engagement and media management were imperative.

A rabbit baiting program was delivered safely in a small park in a highly urbanised area. Traps were available for residents to use with a contractor on call for removal. Council is committed to ongoing rabbit management and managing other invasive animals.

Highly Commended Division C

Camden Council - Management of Australian white ibis at Lake Annan, Mount Annan

Australian White Ibis is a common native Australian waterbird species which is protected in NSW. However the large number of white ibis in urban areas can affect public amenity, aircraft safety, water quality and biodiversity, prompting complaints and the need for management.

After a population explosion on Lake Annan Island from 20 to over 1000 birds, Camden Council adopted a Management Plan to humanely manage the ibis population, including the use of new techniques such as egg oiling. The plan aims to reduce breeding and roosting, improve water quality and address odour and health concerns.

To improve community understanding of Australian White Ibis, Council undertook letterbox drops, distributed brochures, published web materials and promoted results from a recent study.

Natural Environment Policies, Planning and Decision Making

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Sydney Peri Urban Network of Councils - Sydney food futures project

The Sydney's Food Futures project modelled and mapped the impact of future urban growth scenarios upon Sydney's food production to show spatial impacts of urban growth.

The research suggested that unless changes are made, Sydney stands to lose 60% of fresh food produce in the Sydney basin. While Sydney has plans for housing, energy and water, Sydney does not have a plan for protecting food production.

The project delivered a high-level briefing to state government, developed a website, created an animated short film and delivered public events and media. The project was funded by the Building Resilience to Climate Change program.

Case Study (PDF, 172KB)

Highly Commended Division A

Palerang Council (Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council) - Remote pilot aircraft aerial imaging trial

Palerang Council became the first local government in Australia to obtain a CASA Operators Certificate to fly remote pilot aircraft, and with it the capacity to obtain high resolution imagery over small areas at short notice.

This imagery has proven valuable for mapping native vegetation and weeds, documenting unapproved development and assets, and assessing damage from natural disasters. Plans are underway to upgrade to a higher capacity system and add other equipment to the array.

Natural Environment Protection & Enhancement: On-Ground Works

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Wagga Wagga City Council - Marrambidya Wetland

Wagga Wagga's major sewerage treatment works was extensively upgraded to improve efficiency of the facility and to improve the quality of the water discharged into the Murrumbidgee River. The decommissioned tertiary ponds were decontaminated, reshaped and landscaped to create a wetland.

The wetland is an ideal location for cultural activities and learning by the Wiradjuri community and a new public tourist facility. Council had formed a steering committee and from the outset the Local Aboriginal Lands Council and other Indigenous groups were involved. The local Wiradjuri community now use the site for cultural activities.

Case Study (PDF, 155KB)

Winner Division A

Parkes Shire Council - PAC Park urban wetland construction

PAC Park waterway is a dedicated stormwater channel. There was a need to undertake dredging works as a large amount of gross pollutants and sediments had accumulated within the waterway. An existing island infested with exotic weeds has been turned into a mudflat area to accommodate a macrophyte zone. The area has been rejuvenated for the enjoyment of the wider community.

Funding for the project was made available through the Public Reserves Management Fund Program for Crown Lands, the Building Resilience to Climate Change program, and the Local Land Services incentive program for Local Government.

Winner Division B

Orange City Council - Gosling Creek Reserve precinct floating island and hollows habitat

In a joint project between Orange City Council, Central Tablelands Local Land Services, and the Central West Environment and Waterways Alliance a floating island has been installed at an Orange reservoir to provide habitat for migratory birds. The island installation, along with nest boxes and hollow augmentation in remnant vegetation, provides a safe location for waterbirds, hollow-dependent birds and mammals.

The habitat island has been funded through the National Landcare Program.

Highly Commended Division B

Bathurst Regional Council - Restoring regent honeyeater habitat in the Bathurst region

The Regent Honeyeater is listed as Critically Endangered, and habitat loss is the major threat to this species.

This project restores habitat utilising plant species associated with the Regent Honeyeater. To date, willows have been removed from the riverbank and replaced with several thousand native trees, shrubs and grasses. Additionally, a seed production area has been established using local provenance plants to provide a source of seeds for future revegetation projects. 

Planting and maintenance days have achieved high volunteer attendance rates. Community awareness of the Regent Honeyeater has also been heightened through numerous media releases and educational articles.

Highly Commended Division C

Bankstown City Council (City of Canterbury-Bankstown) - Habitat box program

The Bankstown habitat box monitoring program assessed Council’s 350 habitat boxes in bushland areas for their condition and precise location. With the assistance of two Macquarie University undergraduates, Council located 80% of the boxes which were assessed and recorded into an asset database and GIS program. Council also developed habitat box condition assessment indicators.

Although damaged boxes in poor condition can provide habitat and some boxes can last over 10 years, random boxes installed by residents can pose a risk of failure. Council now has a comprehensive maintenance and replacement plan to meet safety requirements.

Blue Mountains City Council - Leura Falls catchment improvement project

Blue Mountains City Council partnered with Water NSW to construct stormwater quality treatment systems at key nodes within the Leura Falls catchment to protect Sydney's drinking water supply.

These systems incorporate primary, secondary and tertiary treatments, including gross pollutant traps, stilling ponds, rain-gardens, wetland cells, rock-lined channels and soft-engineered creek-line stabilisation measures. Combined, the treatments will improve water quality and enhance ecosystem services.

Resource Recovery   

Winner Division A and Overall Category Winner

Broken Hill City Council - Increasing resource recovery for Broken Hill

Resource recovery and recycling has always been a challenge for Broken Hill given the isolation of the community from other major centres and the cost involved in moving recyclables to a viable market.

In 2014, Broken Hill City Council was successful in receiving a grant under the Waste Less Recycle More Program to build and operate a Community Recycling Centre targeting household hazardous wastes.

The facility was officially opened in November 2015, and has to date collected approximately 6 tonnes of problem wastes for reprocessing and recycling from the Broken Hill Community.

Case Study (PDF, 185KB)

Winner Division C

Campbelltown City Council - Annual free recyclables drop-off day

The Annual Free Recyclables Drop-Off Day enables residents to recycle increased volumes of beverage containers, cardboard and other items that would normally be placed in their yellow-lid recycling bins, as well as expanded polystyrene.

Many residents generate excess volumes of these products during the annual festive season. The event is held on the first Saturday of January each year enabling Council to recycle materials that would have otherwise been landfilled.

Roadside Environmental Management

Winner Division A and Overall Category Winner

Moree Plains Shire Council - Roadside environmental management plan

This Roadside Environmental Management Plan project provided Moree Plains Shire Council with a clear strategy for conserving and enhancing native vegetation and habitat in its roadside reserves. This Plan is underpinned by the results of a survey of 1,250 km of Shire roads and the training of key council staff in how to identify local fauna and flora and the use of the Plan.

The Roadside Environmental Management Plan now forms part of Council’s integrated planning and reporting processes, and includes Best Practice Guidelines for routine road construction and maintenance activities.

Case Study (PDF, 164KB)

Highly Commended Division A

Lachlan Shire Council - Roadside corridor assessment and management guidelines

Lachlan Shire Council is home to eight confirmed Endangered Ecological Communities which are well represented in roadside reserves throughout the region. Around 4,000 kilometres of roadside vegetation has been assessed by consultants and two comprehensive documents were developed to assess, prioritise and manage roadside vegetation.

Training was provided to staff in how to recognise areas of high, medium and low conservation value and understand legislative requirements and penalties in relation to vegetation management.

The benefits to adjacent landholders include the protection of vegetation on roadside reserves as shade for stock and providing habitat for pollinators of crops.

Highly Commended Division B

Ballina Shire Council - Chickiba Roadside Wetlands restoration project

The Chickiba Roadside Wetlands Restoration Project is restoring 8 hectares of a State Environmental Planning Policy 14 Wetland.  A rock weir with the ability to utilise variable water levels was used to incrementally drain the altered (elevated) hydrology of the catchment 'upstream'.  'Downstream' fish habitat was restored by clearing of weeds and sediment that had built up within the Creek.  Water quality has been vastly improved and Council is looking forward to a vast improvement in fish habitat and wetland health for Chickiba.

Sustainable Procurement

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Marrickville Council (Inner West Council) - Embedding sustainability into 'value for money'

Marrickville Council adopted a new Sustainable Procurement Policy and Procedures that focused heavily on sustainability, good governance and probity.

Council implemented a sustainable specification library that is contributed to by project managers, sharing their bespoke specifications that can be used and modified in future procurement.

Council has a new procedure where tenders will not be released to the market until they are reviewed by the legal, sustainability and procurement teams.

Case Study (PDF, 118KB)

Waste Avoidance and Reuse

Winner and Overall Category Winner Division C

Parramatta City Council – The R3 program: resource, rescue and reuse

The R3 program was initiated to reduce waste from the relocation of the City of Parramatta's main administration building and library in late 2015. The program rescued resources such as stationary and furniture, reused them internally where possible and offered remaining items to local organisations.

Council was able to divert approximately 70 ute loads of material from landfill, while at the same time providing much needed resources to 52 schools, charities and community organisations.

Case Study (PDF, 182KB)

Winner Division B

Lismore City Council - Lismore revolve shop and recycled market

The Lismore Revolve Shop provides an affordable outlet for the community to purchase pre-loved goods and encourages local artisans to sell their innovative wares.

The aim is to divert as much reusable material as possible from landfill and this has taken off, with a recent boom in DIY, up-cycling and repurposing projects.

The Lismore Revolve Shop has transformed from a "Tip Shop" in an old shed to a unique retail experience. The upgrade to the Shop has allowed for a much more comfortable shopping experience for customers to explore the treasures others have viewed as waste.

Waste Education and Communication

Winner Division A and Overall Category Winner

Lachlan Shire Council - Lachlan Shire waste services rationalisation

Council had 8 waste facilities, spread out over 15,000 square kilometres, 7 of which were unstaffed and open 24/7. This represented a significant risk to the environment and a significant WHS risk for Council.

Council developed a Waste Action Plan and closed 2 facilities, introduced a kerbside collection service in some villages for the first time and constructed bin banks for rural waste generators. Information about the changes was disseminated over an extended period of 18 months by letter box drops, newsletters, new paper advertisements, radio news stories and signage at Waste Facilities.

This significantly minimised Council's WHS exposure. Council also introduced fees and charges for the disposal of waste and this has forced residents to think about (and reduce) how much waste they generate.

Case Study (PDF, 178KB)

Winner Division C

Warringah Council (Northern Beaches Council) - The Sort it Out campaign

The Sort it Out campaign is a targeted behaviour change campaign focussed on overcoming known barriers to reusing and recycling. The campaign comprised digital, paper-based and face to face engagement, such as a local video, post cards and quizzes.

Sort it Out aimed to empower residents; to 'sort out' their waste, reuse or recycle their unwanted goods and ensure they are doing everything they can to reduce waste to landfill.

Water Conservation

Winner Division B and Overall Category Winner

Ballina Shire Council - Pressure and leakage management plan

Ballina Shire Council has developed a Pressure and Leakage Management Plan. This has allowed Council to better monitor and control the underground water network and reduce water loss.

Initial trials saw the establishment of three Pressure Management Zones with flow monitoring equipment detecting a major leak one zone. Repairs led to combined annual water savings of 134 ML; an amount equivalent to 40 Olympic sized swimming pools.

A business case analysis recommended construction of six new Pressure Management Zones and three new Demand Management Zones. Works were completed and commissioned in October 2015.

Case Study (PDF, 148KB)

Local Sustainability

Winner Division B and Overall Category Winner

Ballina Shire Council – Sustainability: serving the community of today whilst preparing for the challenges of tomorrow

As a coastal council in an area experiencing ongoing population growth, Ballina is continuously managing the balance between environmental, social and economic outcomes, while addressing key environmental issues such as sea level rise, estuary health, coastline management and biodiversity retention.

Council's approach to environmental programs is to integrate activity across the Council and achieve positive environmental outcomes as part of existing programs.

Case Study (PDF, 172KB)

Winner Division C

Camden Council - Sustainable Camden

Camden is one of the fastest growing areas in NSW and welcomes approximately 120 new people each week, and expects to have a population in excess of 210,000 by 2036. In 2015/16, Council worked to deliver services and infrastructure to its community in line with their vision for the future, including environmental education initiatives, natural resource management projects, and delivered an efficient and effective waste service.

In addition, Council demonstrated leadership in constructing a new central administration building. In August 2016, Council moved into the new building that incorporates a number of sustainability initiatives including green walls to reduce CO2, double-glazing to improve acoustics and temperature control, installation of 380 solar panels, and ensuring up to 80% of construction waste was recycled.

Louise Petchell Memorial Award for Individual Sustainability


Brendan Govers

Highly Commended

Trish Heeley




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