Excellence in the Environment Awards

  • Date:

    11 October 2017

  • Time:

    9:00 am - 4:00 pm

  • Location:

    UTS Aerial Function Centre Level 7, 235 Jones Street Ultimo, Sydney

  • Recognising outstanding achievements by local government in managing and protecting the environment.

In 1997, Local Government NSW’s predecessor organisation initiated environment awards aimed at the work that councils do on behalf of their communities. This year the Excellence in the Environment Awards celebrate twenty years of inspiration from NSW councils in programs, projects and people across 14 award categories, culminating 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.


Professionally taken photos of the awards lunch are available from EventPix.  To download the free digital files, place an order to receive an email which will link to a download page.

2017 Winners

Asbestos Management

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

North East Waste - Asbestos testing program for householders

North East Waste provides residents with 2 free tests to identify asbestos in their homes which they send to a testing company.   If a positive result is received, the resident is provided with information on safe removal and disposal of asbestos.  Over an 8 month period, 200 residents accessed the program and 151 samples have tested positive for asbestos.

Case Study (PDF, 73KB)

Climate Change Action

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Shoalhaven City Council - Sussex Inlet and district strategic action plan: building community resilience

Shoalhaven City Council, in partnership with Griffith University, worked with the community of Sussex Inlet to address climate change risks facing the community. A two year process led to the creation of a vision for the area's future and a strategic action plan. This allowed the community to consider long term strategic issues and opportunities to build resilience to future impacts from natural hazards, and to engage with the various planning processes of local, state and federal governments.

Case Study (PDF, 122KB)

Highly Commended Division C

City of Parramatta Council - Climate resilient Parramatta

The Climate Resilient Parramatta Program aims to create a city that is eco-efficient, and a community that is resilient to challenges of climate change.  The program includes projects that either reduce emissions, mitigate climate risks, or build the community's capacity to adapt to climate change impacts such as extreme heat. It involves capital works to demonstrate best practice through the installation of rooftop solar systems and energy-efficiency upgrades at Council buildings, community engagement and capacity building around energy efficiency and managing extreme heat, plus policy changes to support improved energy and water efficiency for new developments.

Communication, Education and Empowerment

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Ku-ring-gai Council - WildThings bees and biodiversity program

Ku-ring-gai Council's 'Wild Things' is a hive placement program for Tetragonula carbonaria, a stingless native bee.  The program is leading to increasing Tetragonula carbonaria populations and enhanced urban biodiversity; the pollination of local plants and food crops; a more positive relationship between people and the natural environment; and building social capital. So far, over 1000 bee hives have been delivered with support from volunteers.

Case Study (PDF, 116KB)

Winner Division A

Cobar Shire Council - Regional water quality education program

Cobar Shire Council delivered a recreational water quality education program focused on the Newey Reservoir.  The program developed partnerships between Council and local schools through field days where school children learnt testing methodologies and what influences test results. A market stall was also hosted by Council and the local primary school to educate the wider community on water quality issues.

Highly Commended Division B

Bathurst Regional Council - Bathurst sustainable living expo: inspiring sustainability with famous foodies

The 2017 Bathurst Sustainable Living Expo featured two famous foodies to help educate and share the message of environmental sustainability. My Kitchen Rules judge, Colin Fassnidge, demonstrated his 'nose-to-tail' cooking philosophy, while Matthew Evans from Gourmet Farmer, spoke about his experience in sustainable farming and paddock to plate principles.  An estimated 6,000 people attended the expo to learn about sustainable food, food waste and Council's new organic waste collection service.

Highly Commended Division C

Blacktown City Council - Environmental recognition business program

In an ongoing effort to improve catchment water quality, Blacktown City Council developed a recognition program to address environmental compliance within the commercial and industrial sector.  The Environmental Recognition Business Program acknowledges businesses that are meeting regulatory standards and also being proactive in reducing their environmental impact.  In this way Council acknowledges and encourages those setting a positive example rather than concentrating efforts on penalising businesses causing environmental harm.

Blacktown City Council - Flappy the Fishing Bat

Blacktown City Council's Flappy the Fishing Bat Project investigated the threatened Large-Footed Myotis species, commonly known as the fishing bat, as an indicator of water quality in local creeks and waterways. During the project, 282 local residents volunteered over 840 hour  to build and install bat boxes and wildlife cameras, undertook water bug sampling and bat night walks. Combining these activities with community events and the launch of an iconic character and children's activity book, the community were able to learn about the Fishing Bat and behaviours that impact the water quality in the local creeks.

Community Sharps Management

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Northern Inland Regional Waste - Community sharps management infrastructure enhancement and awareness

The Northern Inland Regional Waste approach to community sharps management included an audit of existing infrastructure, identifying gaps in the disposal network and installing new collection bins where needed. A community education campaign promoted the safe disposal of community sharps.  Training was provided to council operational and management staff involved in cleaning-up and handling the consequences arising from inappropriate community sharps disposal practices.

Case Study (PDF, 113KB)

Innovation in Planning, Policies and Decision Making

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Sutherland Shire Council - A model for bringing back our indigenous tree canopy

Sutherland Shire Council developed an online mapping tool to assist in species selection when making planting decisions for development assessment conditions, bush regeneration, street tree planting and in reserves.  By selecting the right species for the location, vegetation is more likely to flourish. This contributes to a stronger Green Grid and local biodiversity, and mitigates the impacts of increasing urban heat.

Case Study (PDF, 99KB)

Highly Commended Division C

Port Stephens Council - Environmental management system development project

Port Stephens Council has developed an Environmental Management System (EMS) to manage its environmental performance.  The EMS is aligned with the Integrated Planning and Reporting framework to embed environmental outcomes through the community strategy, delivery programs and operational planning. A key success factor for the project was culture and behaviour changes in relation to environmental management.

Invasive Species Management   

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council - Weed risk management assessment by locality across south east NSW

Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council developed a spatial weed risk assessment and analysis model at a suburb-scale across south east NSW, covering 764 localities. The mapping identified regional priority weeds - a necessary component of the new regional strategic weed management plans that guide the regional coordination of resources.

Case Study (PDF, 24KB)

Winner Division A

Cobar Shire Council - Boxthorn puller on our public reserves

Cobar Shire Council removed infestations of the weed, African Boxthorn, in a local reserve by first mapping the infestation and developing a removal strategy. A mechanical Boxthorn puller was used to minimise soil disturbance and open up the vegetation to allow grass and ground species to regenerate.  Reserve users and the community were also engaged about the importance of preventing spread of African Boxthorn.

Winner Division B

Eurobodalla Shire Council - Weeds Finder

Eurobodalla Shire Council's Weeds Finder provides the community with an easy to use, web based, modern and mobile solution for identifying common noxious and environmental weeds. With a phone or tablet in hand, users can easily select characteristics such as flower colour, leaf shape and fruit colour. At the click of a button, the program displays all the results, including high resolution images, biology and control techniques.

Natural Environment Protection & Enhancement: On-Ground Works

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Blue Mountains City Council - Return of the "Bottomless Pool' in Yosemite Creek, North Katoomba

Decades of urban stormwater runoff resulted in sedimentation, erosion and decline of Yosemite Creek's water quality, as well as loss of habitat and aquatic biodiversity. Local residents lamented the loss of their favourite swimming hole, as the 'bottomless pool' at the base of Minnehaha Falls filled with sediment.  A coordinated and collaborative approach with Blue Mountains City Council,  government agencies, businesses and the local community resulted in the successful restoration of Yosemite Creek and the return of the pools including Minnehaha's 'bottomless' plunge pool.

Case Study (PDF, 133KB)

Winner Division A

Kyogle Council - Kyogle Weir fishway

Kyogle Weir was a 2 metre high weir that limited fish migration to the upper Richmond catchment for 95 % of river flows.  An innovative full width V-shaped fishway has been installed which allows native fish to ascend the weir via 23 incremental rises of 100mm over a 50m distance. This project has opened up over 300km of waterways in the upper Richmond sub-catchments as habitat for all aquatic species.

Joint Winners Division B

Wollondilly Shire Council - Wollondilly koala conservation project

Wollondilly Council's koala conservation project surveyed a healthy colony of breeding koalas in the region to better understand the increase our knowledge of this local population, which is the only disease-free population in the state. Wollondilly Council is partnering with the Office of Environment and Heritage, neighbouring councils and the community to undertake valuable work that will help to protect koalas and inform future development planning and conservation management decisions.

Wingecarribee Shire Council - Southern Highlands koala conservation project

The Southern Highlands koala conservation project undertook spotlight surveys and habitat assessments at 697 sites, actively engaging the local community, and forming valuable partnerships with a range of research and conservation organisations. The project team has also monitored the movements of 20 koalas over the course of six months using GPS-tracking technology. Results confirm that this is the largest population in southern NSW with more than 3,000 of these iconic animals calling the area home.

Highly Commended Division C

Blacktown, Burwood, Canterbury Bankstown, Canada Bay, Parramatta, Ryde, Cumberland, Hunters Hill, Inner West, Strathfield, The Hills Councils - Get the Site Right blitz

The NSW Environment Protection Authority, Department of Planning and Environment, and 11 councils joined forces for a soil and erosion control blitz at construction sites around Parramatta River. More than 500 inspections were conducted across two targeted campaigns on developments of all sizes. Called 'Get the Site Right', this initiative is part of the Parramatta River Catchment Group's mission to make the Parramatta River swimmable again by 2025, and highlights the role that developers and builders play in cleaning up the river.

Resource Recovery

Winner Division B and Overall Category Winner

Albury City Council - Albury recycling centre

The Albury Recycling Centre is a state of the art facility comprising of an area to separate recyclable materials from the general waste stream, a dismantling and processing area and a retail space for the sale of second hand goods.  This development aims to divert 14,000 tonnes of waste from landfill per year through improved access and onsite processing methods for recyclable material.

Case Study (PDF, 90KB)

Behaviour Change in Waste   

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Hunter Joint Organisation of Councils - Love Food on Campus: university food waste avoidance project

Hunter Councils, in partnership with the University of Newcastle, delivered the "Love Food on Campus" project targeting students living on campus.  The project investigated what students are buying, eating, cooking and wasting, and most importantly determined what motivates them to change practices. Students were engaged through food waste film screenings, cooking demonstrations, waste audits and the development of a tailor-made low waste cookbook, meal planner and shopping list toolkit.

Case Study (PDF, 101KB)

Winner Division B

The City of Wagga Wagga - Don't dump, it's dumb

The 'Don't Dump, It's Dumb' campaign reduced illegal dumping on 3 rural roads in Wagga Wagga.  An extensive media campaign was conducted and included TV, radio, social media and newspaper advertising as well as roadside signage, and flyers distributed through real estate agents and local hardware stores.   Bollards were also installed to restrict access to known illegal dumping hot spots and an extensive network of surveillance cameras are now in operation.

Highly Commended Division B

Lane Cove Council - Normalising council clean-up to prevent illegal dumping

To manage illegal dumping, Lane Cove Council introduced a suite of behaviour change initiatives that were designed to modify old social norms around kerbside dumping. Council encouraged residents to do the right thing, by prompting the use of Council's Clean Up service.  Council simultaneously discouraged future dumping by tagging dumps and issuing warnings. These simple activities facilitated an 85% reduction in kerbside dumping.

Case Study (PDF, 97KB)

Highly Commended Division C

Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils - Waste avoidance and resource recovery education

Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils ran  131 workshops delivered in 9 months to over 2200 people, to share practical knowledge for tackling management of food waste, recycling and reusing, 'living with less' along with correct disposal of household problem wastes. Evaluation has shown 85% committed to a change and a follow up survey showed 86 % of participants had changed how they manage waste.

Case Study (PDF, 27KB)

Community Waste Services

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

City of Canterbury Bankstown - Resource recovery of problem waste at MUDs

Canterbury-Bankstown Council worked with residents on a trial program to recover and recycle problem waste materials from multi-unit dwellings. Bins and collections points have been installed at 16 multi-unit dwellings to collect polystyrene, soft plastic, cardboard, e-waste, clothing and mattresses.

Case Study (PDF, 50KB)

Winner Division A

Kiama Municipal Council - OK Organics Kiama

Kiama Council introduced a food and garden organics bin that included a 7L kitchen caddy. Community information sessions were held to engage residents face to face to promote the new waste service and to follow up on any issues or concerns. Visual bin checks were conducted 2 months after the new services started to see how well residents have adapted with a chance to win a prize for those households doing well.

Highly Commended Division C

Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils - Northern Sydney community recycling centre

Five councils in northern Sydney have partnered to establish a Community Recycling Centre on commercial premises. No council had available operational land suitable to establish a facility, so Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils arranged a lease of a suitable commercial premises.  Working together has allowed resource sharing between councils, increased the efficiency of problem waste collection and helps to reduce the illegal dumping of problem wastes.

Case Study (PDF, 25KB)

Sustainable Procurement

Highly Commended Division C

Tweed Shire Council - Electronic sustainable spend tracking and measurement trial

Tweed Shire Council participated in a Local Government NSW trial to improve the tracking and monitoring of sustainable procurement. The Electronic Sustainable Spend Tracking and Measurement (ESSTAM) Trial piloted software solutions to track and measure sustainable spend. Council worked with its current finance software provider and with various teams across Council to provide feedback on the software development.

Water Management

Winner Division A and Overall Category Winner

Parkes Shire Council - Parkes integrated water infrastructure renewal project

Parkes Shire Council renewed its urban water supply and sewerage schemes through the construction of a new Sewage Treatment Plant, Water Treatment Plant and ancillary infrastructure projects. The project augments infrastructure to draw on diversified water sources including two dams, the Lachlan River, and groundwater sources. By replacing aged infrastructure and planning for more effective and extensive use of recycled water, the projects will decrease demand on scarce water resources.

Case Study (PDF, 50KB)

Winner Division C

City of Canterbury Bankstown - Kingsgrove rain garden projects

City of Canterbury Bankstown installed rain gardens in Forrester and Kingsbury Reserves to  deliver an on-ground water sensitive urban design solution for two small unappealing reserves in Kingsgrove. The rain gardens direct stormwater run-off from the road through a bio-retention system, removing pollutants before the water flows on to Wolli Creek. The projects have engaged and educated council staff and local residents, added aesthetic and biodiversity value, whilst meeting pollutant removal targets for the Botany Bay catchment.

Highly Commended Division C

Liverpool City Council - Liverpool Integrated water quality improvement

Liverpool City Council is implementing integrated water management initiatives to improve water quality in older suburbs through the retrofitting of gross pollutant traps and monitoring, and in new suburbs through requirements for the land development industry to provide for water sensitive urban design.

Local Sustainability

Winner Division C and Overall Category Winner

Campbelltown City Council - Sustainable council program

The Campbelltown area is one of the nation's fastest growing population and employment centres. With such significant growth, Council has a major role to play in the sustainability of the region.  Campbelltown City Council takes a two-prong approach of an overarching sustainability strategy to influence policies and projects; and a culture change program led by a Sustainability Committee, which aims to educate, inspire, support and involve staff.   

As an example of Council's innovation, in the infancy of the program the Corporate Sustainability Fund was created by Council to provide a sustainable funding stream for projects. To date the fund has loaned over $600,000 to kick-start projects that enhance Council's sustainability, with loans to be paid back from savings achieved from increased efficiencies. 

Case Study (PDF, 30KB)

Louise Petchell Memorial Award for Individual Sustainability

Carmel Hamilton

Carmel joined the Penrith Sustainability Team as the Sustainability Education Officer in 2006 and become the Sustainability Co-ordinator in 2009 after the sudden passing of Louise.

Carmel's work has been instrumental in mainstreaming sustainability within Penrith City Council. Key to this was Council's adoption of the Sustainability Policy and Sustainability Strategy in 2015. Carmel has worked closely with the Strategic Planning Team to embed sustainability actions into a new suite of IP&R documents. Under her leadership, the sustainability team has:

  • Incorporated sustainability into staff performance.
  • Undertaken staff engagement programs including lunchtime information sessions and an ideas program.
  • Developed the Cooling the City Strategy, which aims to combat the challenge of urban heat in a changing climate.
  • Introduced the Sustainable Buildings Policy, which ensures the construction of any new buildings or major renovations achieve sustainable outcomes.
  • Developed policies such as the Sustainable Events Policy and the Community Gardens Policy and Guideline.  
  • Secured the Sustainability Revolving Fund, which since its inception in 2003, has provided close to $1.5 million towards capital works to improve our sustainability of Council’s assets, saving $600,000 pa.

Carmel has provided leadership on sustainability initiatives at Penrith City Council and continues to build on Louise's legacy.






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