At the end of June, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) made the draft recommendation the Great Barrier Reef would be placed on the ‘in danger’ list.
Our federal government claimed it was blindsided by the decision, apparently having forgotten reports in 2012, 2018, 2019 and 2020 by the UN and other bodies that the Reef was in dire straits and the major bleaching events of 2016, 2017 and 2020. Ignored, too, were the warnings from scientists and tourism operators for more than a decade about the declining health of the Reef.
UNESCO said that the government’s Reef 2050 Plan (which still has not been finalised) did not sufficiently deal with the effects of climate change and needed to address this as well as water quality issues due to runoff from farming and land clearing.
The Australian Government went into overdrive to challenge UNESCO’s recommendation. Federal MP Warren Entsch, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, falsely claimed that warm water originating in the northern hemisphere and flowing across the Pacific to the Reef was a chief cause of mass coral bleaching.
Sussan Ley then travelled to Europe for eight days of intense lobbying resulting in a majority of the twenty-one members of the world heritage committee saying they believed the federal government was doing enough and the ‘in danger’ rating was unwarranted. The science showing the Reef was dying primarily due to the increase in world’s temperature from the burning of fossil fuels was, apparently, not an important consideration.
It is, however, a short reprieve. The next vote on the health of the Reef will occur mid-2022, conveniently after the next federal election.
We encourage our members to contact our local federal members, John Alexander and Trent Zimmerman. Ask them to speak out in the media and parliament about the Reef being at risk from climate change and why the Morrison Government needs to stop supporting fossil fuel projects.
These MPs could also be encouraged to support Zali Steggall’s bill which calls for a halt to fossil fuel mining. We have an opportunity to voice our concerns about climate change and ask the government to act decisively. It is also worthwhile reminding these politicians that our vote in the next election will depend on candidates who demand and support a rapid move away from fossil fuels and towards 100% renewables.
John Alexander. Phone: 9869 4288 Email: John.Alexander.firstname.lastname@example.org
Trent Zimmerman. Phone: 9929 9822 Email: Trent.Zimmerman.email@example.com
The AEMC is the rule maker for Australian electricity and gas markets. They make and amend the National Electricity Rules, National Gas Rules and National Energy Retail Rules; and provide market development advice to governments.
As consumers play an increasingly important role, the power system of the future will look very different. Draft reform proposals were considered, for a final determination in July.
AEMC provided the online resources below to help us navigate some of the issues around distributed energy resources. The New Energy Guide explores the opportunities this new technology offers – as well as the challenge involved in adapting to the scale and pace of change, and the importance of planning ahead.
The New Energy Guide
Opening up renewable energy – a printable guide
Solar facts you should know
About the Distributed Energy Integration Program
CSIRO has launched a $5 million program to boost international collaboration on clean hydrogen research. The program will be run by the CSIRO’s new Hydrogen Industry Mission (HIM).
Dr Patrick Hartley, leader of HIM, believes we need to connect and learn what’s going on globally.
According to Hartley, the project will “connect our research community to skills and expertise overseas to help our researchers support the development of Australia’s hydrogen industry.”
The HIM, which launched in May this year, aims to partner government and industry to harness research and development to bring Australia’s hydrogen price competitive with fossil fuels.
Cost is a major barrier to the wide-scale uptake of renewable hydrogen. Producing hydrogen is economic in some applications, but costs of actually moving it around the world are pretty huge.
Domestic use of hydrogen also faces a cost barrier, but this varies depending on the use.
In the area of transport, hydrogen is already competitive with expensive fuels like petrol or diesel.
Dr Hartley says the real problem is that the infrastructure doesn’t exist. “Building fuelling stations, sourcing hydrogen vehicles and making hydrogen vehicles potentially here in Australia are all challenges that need to be met. Research and Development can help establish those industries.”
The CSIRO is interested in a variety of research avenues. Interest in hydrogen is rapidly increasing, with demonstration projects beginning now to produce, move and use renewable hydrogen, but it won’t be until around 2030 when the hydrogen industry starts to be at an economic scale.
In the meantime, plenty of work will be done to figure out where hydrogen can become competitive with other energy sources. Much of this research will be shared through the CSIRO’s HyResource website, which showcases Australia’s hydrogen industry developments.
150 HECTARES OF HABITAT LOST EACH DAY IN NSW - report from the Nature Conservation Council (NCC), 29 June 2021
Latest land clearing data shows 150 hectares of wildlife habitat is bulldozed or logged every day in NSW, almost twice the average annual rate recorded before the Coalition overhauled nature laws in 2016. 1 The annual Statewide Land and Tree Study (SLATS) data shows 54,500 hectares of native forest were destroyed for farming, forestry and development in 2019.
NCC Chief Executive Chris Gambian said: “This astounding rate of deforestation is a disaster for wildlife and the climate. We call on the government to take urgent action to reverse the trend. In just one year we have lost an area of forest four times the size of Royal National Park. It is simply unsustainable. Using widely accepted data on wildlife population densities, clearing on that scale would have killed up to 9 million animals - mammals, birds and reptiles – in just 12 months.
“After the government weakened land clearing laws in 2016, deforestation rates doubled and have remained at these dangerously high levels ever since. The Coalition promised its new laws would enhance protections for bushland and wildlife. These figures, and the rising number of threatened species, shows the laws completely fail to deliver on that promise.
“More than 1,020 plants and animals are now threatened with extinction in NSW, about 20 more than when the scheme was introduced. The 74% of clearing is designated as ‘unexplained’ in this report shows the government has lost control of deforestation in NSW.
“We welcomed the government establishing new national parks over the past year, but the national parks system covers less than 10% of the state. The government must stop uncontrolled deforestation on private land and in state forests if it is going to tackle the extinction crisis.”
 Land cover change reporting, DPIE, June 2021
 Native Animals Lost to Tree Clearing in NSW 1998-2015, WWF-Australia, 2018
Our Society opposes the replacement of natural grass with artificial turf. Here are some reasons…
Abridged article published in The Conversation March 6, 2017; Author Stuart Shalat, Professor and Director of the Division of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Georgia State University
If you want to get a soccer parent’s attention, bring up the subject of artificial turf, the preferred playing surface for children from pre-K to college. From concerns about concussions to cancer, parents have become alarmed by reports in the media of increased injuries and illnesses.
There is also a potential health risk because of the chemicals in tires, which are recycled into crumbs to support the plastic blades of synthetic grass.
Just what is it, anyway?
Artificial turf is made up of three major parts:
1. Backing material that will serve to hold the individual blades of artificial grass.
2. The plastic blades themselves.
3. The infill, those tiny black crumbs, that helps support the blades.
Various pigments are used to provide the green colour of the blades. These can include lead or titanium for the white lines and still other metals for school logos on the field.
Those little black crumbs are the problems. Tires can be toxic. Modern tires are a mixture of natural and synthetic rubber, carbon black – a material made from petroleum and petroleum products. They also contain metals, including cadmium, lead, which is neurotoxic, and zinc.
Some of the chemicals in tires, such as dibenzopyrenes, are known carcinogens.
And then there’s the need to use weedkillers…
Artificial turf does not have to be mowed, but it turns out that weeds can start growing in it, so a relatively common practice is to apply weedkillers to keep the finely manicured appearance.
Unfortunately, a variety of health concerns have been linked to these products. Also, the turf has been associated with increased risk of infections from Staphylococcus aureus, with consequences including sepsis and bloodstream infections. And biocides may have toxic effects of their own.
The list of drawbacks goes on…and on…
Fields with artificial turf tend to get far hotter than grass fields. Field surface temperatures can reach over 90 o C. At these temperatures, even with athletic shoes on, children can get burned feet.
It is rare, even on a very hot day, that natural grass exceeds 40 o C. By comparison, NSW safety regulations are that the maximum water temperature for delivery to bathrooms is 50 o C.
Unless given a thick underlay (with its own problems) artificial turf is laid over concrete or compacted earth, so it is a harder surface with increased risk of injuries, particularly concussions.
Closer to home:
Hunter’s Hill Council recently postponed a decision to spend a $2m NSW Government grant on replacing natural grass with artificial turf at Gladesville Reserve which is strongly supported by a local soccer club. Council will wait for the outcome of the Planning Minister's review of natural versus synthetic turf playing surfaces. And opposition to the proposed use by Lane Cove Council of synthetic turf on the Bob Campbell / Gore Creek oval, Greenwich has now put this grant project on hold. Issues are that natural turf will not damage Gore Creek and the surrounding bushland.
Additional to the environmental benefits, natural turf is looking to be less expensive to install and maintain. City of Ryde Council, however, continues to favour the use of artificial turf.
Transport for NSW is now widening Herring Road between Epping and Waterloo Roads to provide a dedicated northbound bus lane. The project entails further removal of up to 41 trees in Herring Road and Ivanhoe Place. Transport for NSW says that they plan to replace each removed tree and work with City of Ryde Council to identify potential locations for plantings in the local area.
For detailed information see evolution-of-macquarie-park/herring-road
Ivanhoe Estate building works continue, with this “State Significant Project” being undertaken by Frasers, on behalf of the NSW State Government. New apartments
are now being impressively advertised for sale, as “Midtown Macquarie Park”.
Happily, our efforts in the early planning stages were successful in saving the remnant Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest along Epping Road. This natural area remains undamaged (so far).
MEANWHILE: Greening Our City Grant NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) allocated City of Ryde Council $250,000 of its 2021 Greening our City grant programme to support the Implementation of the Ryde Street Tree Masterplan. This grant funding aims to support local councils across Greater Sydney to increase urban greening by enhancing tree canopy in our local parks, streets and neighbourhoods. Their press release states: The 2021 round of grant funding has awarded more than $9.9 million in grant funding to 28 projects in 23 councils across Greater Sydney. As a result, Greater Sydney will have over 20,000 newly planted trees to boost urban tree canopy where there is low canopy coverage.
The funding will help projects addressing canopy deficits by planting trees in suburbs with low canopy cover and increased exposure to heat. Planting more trees to enhance tree canopy will provide vital shade that reduces ambient temperatures for local communities and help mitigate the urban heat-island effect...
We think grant money should also be applied to save and protect existing mature trees.
In a report commissioned by Planet Ark - see https://treeday.planetark.org/documents/doc-1170-valuing-trees-report---full-final.pdf - the estimated value of each mature tree is in the order of thousands of dollars. It is therefore arguable that action to protect the trees along Epping Rd near the Ivanhoe Estate has already been of greater value to City of Ryde than the grant allocation. A pity the rest of the trees in Ivanhoe Estate and Herring Rd could not have been saved, too.
Tower crane literally towering over the trees near Wilga Park / Shrimptons Creek, Macquarie Park. Crane height is an indication of the building height.
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has prepared a strategy for the 20-year vision for Macquarie Park. It may be viewed at: GOVP1468_DPIE_MACQUARIE_PARK_STRATEGY_V8.pdf
There is a strong focus on jobs, supported by new homes, transport infrastructure and open space:
- 20,000 new jobs
- up to 7,650 new homes
- Improved access to public transport
-More walking and cycling paths
-Parks and open space for everyone
Submissions are invited to be made by Tuesday 10 August 2021 – See planning/macquariepark
We encourage all members to look at the plan and make your own submission to contribute to a positive future for the locality.
Some observations we have made include:
1. The document reflects some impressive ambitions, but the words “could”, “opportunities”, “incentivise” and “encourage” are often used. Specific and mandatory goals are needed.
2. Location of taller buildings is mentioned throughout the draft, but no specific guidelines are provided for where and how tall they will be.
3. Natural environment is not considered with specific in-depth analysis. Throughout the entire 78 page document, the word “biodiversity” is only twice used, and there is no guarantee that any measures will be taken to maintain the native flora and fauna of this area which sits between the Lane Cove National Park and the City of Ryde.
A specific example is the importance of connecting Shrimptons Creek through to the Lane Cove River valley; the Macquarie Shopping Centre is currently a big block over the Shrimptons Creek wildlife corridor which is important as it passes through the middle of the City of Ryde and should be connected for the viability of biodiversity as well as for community benefit.
4. The big flood of November 1984 damaged foundations of the Macquarie Shopping Centre, then fairly new. There have since been several extreme weather events and with climate change these are more likely to occur in the future, so it will be important to leave all creek lines open and in their natural state. Water velocity and quantity is reduced when flowing through natural areas where it is impeded by natural features and may soak into soil.
5. It is impressive to have the overall ambitions listed above, but we wonder how all this can be achieved in a finite land area without spoiling the skyline (which is under a flight path) and reducing daylight at ground level.
Article published in The Weekly Times (TWT) Wednesday 30 June 2021 – page 8; reprinted with permission.
Readers may recall reports on the B&B project in previous editions of Wallumetta, dating from June 2020.
A special event at Ryde East Public School [on 10 June 2021] showcased the growth of Planting-Seeds Projects' B&B Highway urban biodiversity initiative with the Ryde collection of B&Bs in 12 schools, the largest hub in the network.
With 50 B&Bs – Bed and Breakfasts for Birds, Bees and. Biodiversity – in schools in NSW and Victoria and growing, the B&B Highway aims to regenerate our cities through plantings and habitat for birds, bees and biodiversity.
The schools hosting the B&Bs range from preschools to high schools.
The B&B Highway is in response to declining numbers of birds, bees and other pollinators which has implications for food supplies, our ecosystems and soil and water health.
What we do in our urban environment can help redress this decline if we regenerate and replant with biodiversity in mind.
The initiative is co-ordinated by the not-for-profit PlantingSeeds Projects with support from the University of Technology's Institute for Sustainable Futures, and biodiversity, entomology, bird and plant experts from other key organisations.
PlantingSeeds has developed educational curriculum for the B&B Highway with the NSW Dept of Education and also offers workshops and educational sessions that provide indoor and outdoor learning.
The event also showcased the B&B Highway's new citizen science initiative through its collaboration with iNaturalist and the CSIRO's Atlas of Living Australia.
Up until very recently, citizen science was all done by taxonomists in white lab coats.
Now children in school uniforms - with iPads, Smartphones and other devices - can contribute information and sightings that can generate important Australian research to benefit our eco-systems.
The B&B Highway is part of the CSIRO's Atlas of Living Australia or ALA and the online network, website and app iNaturalist, developed by the National Geographic Society and the California Academy of Sciences. There has been little urban citizen science work to date and this new collaboration aims to fill some knowledge gaps and even, maybe, make some discoveries!
Dr Erin Roger from the Atlas of Living Australia joined Dr Judy Friedlander, the founder of PlantingSeeds, and Mayor Jerome Laxale and Councillor Penny Pederson at the event.
Dr Judy made special mention of Ryde locals Jenny O'Neill and Donna Loneragan who were instrumental in supporting the Ryde B&B Highway initiative in its early stages.
An ABC TV team also attended this event, filming for an “Australian Story” programme which will feature Dr Judy Friedlander.
In the spirit of the occasion at Ryde East Public School, Ryde Mayor Jerome Laxale strapped on some butterfly wings.