Coastwatchers AGM Preliminary Date: Saturday September 23rd 2017

For those members who plan ahead, the Executive is planning to hold the Annual General Meeting this year on Saturday September 23rd at 2:00pm at the Tomakin Community Hall. This will be finalised at the next Committee meeting on Wednesday July 5th 2017.

The Committee is also considering holding a Special General Meeting after the AGM to formally adopt the new NSW model Constitution for Incorporated Associations, which NSW Fair Trading introduced in August 2016.

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Scientists Warn Greater Glider is Near Extinction

Written by Adam Morton, The Age, June 2nd 2017

Greater Glider

Those who know the greater glider have a vivid way of describing it: like a flying possum crossed with a Koala.

About the size of a garden variety possum, but with a looped tail of up to 60 centimetres long and membranes that extend from its elbows to its ankles, it is Australia’s largest marsupial.

Scientists say it may not continue to be: it is headed for extinction. Two decades ago greater gliders were abundant up the east coast, but a combination of land clearing, logging and a rising threat of bushfires linked to climate change has triggered an 80% population crash.

Though they glide up to 100 metres, greater gliders are docile animals. They typically spend their lives within an area of three or four hectares – about the size of a couple of football fields. When danger arrives, as it did catastrophically in the (Victorian) central highland on Black Sunday, they have little capacity to cope. Continue reading

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Experts Review the Findings of the “Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market” (The Finkel Report)

The final report entitled “Independent Review into the Future Stability of the National Electricity Market”, was handed to the Commonwealth Government in the last week. The Review known as the Finkel Report was prepared by the Review Panel of 5 experts and chaired by the Chief Scientist Professor Alan Finkel.

The following reviews of the Report were presented in the Conversation on 9 July 2017.

Review 1.“Security and reliability are first”

Hugh Saddler, Honorary Associate  Professor, Australian National University

With so much focus on the design of a mechanism to support a shift towards lower-emissions generation, it is easy to forget that the primary purpose of the Review, commissioned following the “system black” event in South Australia on September 28, 2016, was “to develop a national reform blueprint to maintain energy security and reliability”. It is thus appropriate that security and reliability are the first topics to be addressed in the main body of the report.Hugh Sadler Continue reading

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Huge 300MW Solar Farm begins construction near Port Augusta

By Giles Parkinson on April 11th 2017 in Renew Economy

The first of two stages of a 300MW solar farm – Australia’s biggest – has begun construction near Port Augusta in South Australia.

The first two stages, totalling 220MW, of the Bungala Project is being built around 12km from Port Augusta, where the state’s last col fired generator closed last May.

Bungala will be built “battery storage ready” and will also likely be the first major solar farm to participate in Australia’s FCAS market (frequency control and ancillary services), using SMA inverter technology to provide voltage control for the grid.

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Wharf Road Coastal Zone Management Plan Back for Final Certification with Minister

The submerged and tidal land at Wharf Road Batemans Bay (400 metres from the bridge) has, indirectly and directly, been on Council Agendas for over 30 years. It is shortly to be progressed when the NSW Minister for Planning and Environment Certifies the Council’s ‘Wharf Road Coastal Zone Management Plan’.

This decision will have implications into the future, both with the surrounding land in Wharf Road, and other land in this Shire and elsewhere, particularly if global warming leads to sea level rise.

In supporting the Plan, the Minister said that the Plan seeks to return this precinct to public ownership and restore unimpeded public beach and foreshore access to these margins, which will be of significant benefit to the local community. Continue reading

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Solar Panel Installations “Skyrocket” in Australia in March

This is an edited report by the ABC’s consumer affairs reporter Amy Bainbridge from ABC News on April 13th 2017.

Key Points:

  • Solar panels were installed on about 15,000 homes and businesses in March 2017
  • Installations have hit their highest level in almost five years
  • Experts say rising electricity bills and recent blackouts in SA are turning people to solar

There has been a big surge in the number of households installing solar panels, with March installations reaching their highest level in almost five years.

An energy consultant said 91 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems were installed during the month.

He said the surge started to build in 2016, and has continued to skyrocket in 2017.

Queensland led the way, installing 25 MW of capacity, which is enough to power about 5.500 homes and businesses.

Installations were also up in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.

Installation figures in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT were flat.

The recent blackouts in South Australia were a factor in the rising demand for panels, as solar power and storage are used to offset or protect against grid blackouts.

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Dargues Reef Mine Set to Commence Mining

After nearly two and a half years of inquiries and approvals, the Dargues Reef Gold Mine will shortly commence operation.

The timeline of events for the approval process was as follows. As you will see, it commenced in November 2014 and as at April 2017 is not entirely complete.

Not:  EPBC Act 1999 means the Commonwealth Government’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Timeline for the Approval Process for Dargues Reef Gold Mine

November 2014 – Press reports indicate Unity Mining is seeking to modify its 2011 DA approval
January 2015 – Unity Mining submits Modification 3 to Development Approval provided to NSW Government for preliminary comment
February 24th 2015 – Coastwatchers makes presentation to Eurobodalla Shire Council
July 9th 2015 – Unity Mining’s DA Mod 3 placed on Public Exhibition by NSW Planning for 6 weeks
August 25th 2015 – Coastwatchers makes further Presentation to Eurobodalla Shire Council
August 26th 2015 – Close of Public Exhibition for Mod 3. Coastwatchers lodges submission with NSW planning
September 4th 2015 – Coastwatchers lodges 1st Submission with Commonwealth Department of Environment re endangered species under EPBC Act 1999
October 27th 2015 – Commonwealth Determination issues Approval under EPBC Act 1999
November 15th 2015 – Unity responds to NSW Planning Public Submissions and at the same time withdraws on-site processing using cyanide.
December 1st 2015 – Public Exhibition of Unity Response
December 9th 2015 – Takeover proposal by PYBAR and Diversified Minerals of Unity Mining
January 3rd 2016 – Close of Public Exhibition re Unity’s Response. Coastwatchers lodges Submission to NSW Planning
June 22nd 2016 – NSW Planning makes Determination to refer matter to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission
July 26th 2016 – Planning Assessment Hearing in Braidwood. Coastwatchers makes Presentation
August 10th 2016 – Planning Assessment Commission determines an Approval for the Project
August 17th 2016 – Coastwatchers lodge 2nd Submission to Commonwealth Department of Environment re endangered species under EPBC Act 1999
February 17th 2017 – Commonwealth issues Determination of Conditional Approval under EPBC Act. The conditions are that the mine proponents must prepare a Construction Environmental Management Plan and a Water Management Plan.

The Commonwealth Minister for the Environment is yet to give final approval under the EPBC Act to these two plans.

Work cannot proceed until these Plans have been approved. The Association wrote to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment requesting the Plans be placed on public exhibition when finalised.

All the Coastwatchers submissions and presentations appear below in this blog.

Under NSW Planning legislation there has to be a Dargues Reef Mine Community Consultative Committee (CCC). It has been operating for many years.

Membership has been reviewed by the independent Chairman of the CCC and the NSW Minister for Planning, and Coastwatchers secretary Richard Roberts has been appointed as an environmental representative on the CCC.

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The Invasive Cassia Weed

Many Landcare volunteers in the Eurobodalla Shire have been targeting the invasive weed Cassia in the past few weeks. The flowers are bright yellow, so they are very conspicuous. If you have them in the garden or bush, please remove them.

Cassia will very quickly invade native ecosystems, particularly in coastal areas. It is a very fast growing plant that can suppress the growth of native species and displace them. Cassia produces large quantities of long living seed pods.

Cassia invades waterways, gardens, disturbed sites, waste areas, roadsides, closed forests, forest margins and urban bushland. Most Landcare groups prioritise this invasive weed.

 

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Eurobodalla Shire Cat Bib Program

Roaming domestic cats are a significant conservation issue because they may hunt, harass and compete with wildlife. They hunt, among other things, birds, lizards, frogs and many native mammals including bandicoots and gliders in the Eurobodalla. There are also concerns about unrestrained roaming domestic cats because of risks to cat welfare, including cats fighting and getting injured.

Due to the threat that domestic cats post to wildlife, Eurobodalla Shire Council is implementing a proactive program to reduce domestic cat predation on native animals. This program will support cat owners to minimise the impacts that domestic cat predation has on local wildlife.

What is the program?

Eurobodalla Shire Council is offering a free CatBib to all cat owners who have a microchipped and registered cat (or cats) in eligible areas.

Where are the Eligible Areas?

All cat owners living in these areas are entitled to a free CatBib: Bimbimbie, Bergalia, Bingie, Broulee, Congo, Deura River Valley, Guerilla Bay, Lilli Pilli, Maloney’s Beach, Meringo, Moruya Heads, Mossy Point, Mystery Bay, Nelligen, Potato Point, Rosedale, Runnyford, South Durras.

Why These Areas?

These villages and hamlets have been specifically selected as it is where the greatest number of native wildlife live and is therefore the initial priority of this program.

Why a CatBib and Not a Collar with a Bell?

Murdoch University Research has scientifically proven that CatBibs work to stop over 80% of cats from catching birds and reduce small animal predation by almost half. The CatBib acts as a barrier between the cat and its prey. When the cat pounces, the bib gets in the way, which allows the split second needed for escape. It also serves as a brighly coloured visual warning as the cat creeps up on its victim.

How Does It Work?

The CatBib is attached to the cat’s collar and hangs loosely over the cat’s chest. It works by gently interfering with the precise timing, and coordination a cat needs for successful bird catching. The CatBib comes between the cat and the bird just at the last moment. It doesn’t interfere with any of the cat’s other activities, The CatBib only affects the cat’s ability to catch birds (and reduces cats from fighting). A cat wearing a CatBib can run, jump, climp trees, eat, sleep, scratch and groom.

How do I get a Free CatBib?

If you are interested in receiving a free CatBib and would like further information about the program and eligibility, please contact Courtney Fink-Downes at Eurobodalla Shire Council on 4474 7493.

 

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New CEO Appointed to the Australian Electricity Marketing Organisation

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) recently appointed (March 2017) Audrey Zibelman, an American, as its new CEO.

Zibelman was one of the leaders of New York’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” following the 2012 Hurricane Sandy, in which thousands of New York residents were left without power for weeks.

The reforms increased energy security through a range of measures, including smart grid technology, battery storage and distributed generation strategically placed throughout its network.

This appointment could signal the biggest shift in culture and technology of the AEMO, which is responsible for the operation of Australia’s mains grid. It also comes at a time when the Finkel Review is only months away from reporting.

Audrey ZibelmanThe AEMO has been criticised for its slow responses to adapting policy to renewable energy and other new technologies. This was highlighted after the South Australian blackout when renewables were blamed for the problem. Withing a week AEMO required new standards be introduced throughout Australia, which would avoid wind-farms automatically turning off early. The technology had been in use in Europe for over a decade!

For those wanting more information, listen to an interview between Audrey Zibelman and Geraldine Doogue on ABC Radio National on April 1st 2015.
https://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/ pgPG9LeZ27?play=true

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