Delegates, here is the August 2018 MERC Newsletter. This newsletter has a lot of important information in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.
Wind Farming & Energy Workshop 8th November 2018 held in Crookwell
The Wind Farming workshop will be held on Thursday 8th November 2018 in Crookwell, to commence at 1.00pm with a variety of speakers from Councils, Government etc invited to speak about how Councils can manage wind energy developments more effectively with some excellent examples, with the focus on wind farming and renewable energy generally.
Speakers confirmed to date are:-
- David Kitto (DPE – Executive Director Resource Assessments & Business Systems), will be presenting in lieu of Mike Young form the DPE;
- Andrew Bray (National Wind Alliance Coordinator will be speaking on his report Building Stronger Communities: Wind’s growing role in Regional Australia where the focus is on the industry’s relationship with the broader community, it does include some discussion of benefits for Councils, Section 355 committees and VPAs. He says “Councils and wind developers have reached a fairly common understanding of what wind farm VPAs look like these days”.
- Upper Lachlan Shire Council General Manager – John Bell;
- Chris Berry, Director Planning Services, Yass Valley Council (they held their own in house workshop on wind farming earlier this year!).
Andrew Warren, Tourism Manager, Upper Lachlan Shire Council, Crookwell is assisting with the organisation of the workshop, dinner, AGM, Executive and Ordinary meetings and activities for the visit to the Upper Lachlan region in November 2018, his help has been very beneficial to date, as you can see with the details in this Newsletter.
Update on the Joint Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)
A copy of the Chris Wilson report on the status of the negotiations with NSW Minerals Council and MERC on VPA’s was finally received and distributed to the Execeutive Committee and working party in August 2018.
The working party (Cr Sue Moore, Cr Owen Hasler, Steve Loane and Greg Lamont) met on 22nd August 2018 in Sydney with Warwick Giblin to go over the content of the report and to consider the MERC position. Thereafter the working party, without Warwick, met with the DPE (Alison Frame, Felicity Greenway and Steven Barry and the NSW Minerals Council (Steve Galliee and Claire Doherty) for an hour to discuss areas of agreement and the way forward. The meeting was very constructive and the following recommendations of the Wilson Report was agreed to at this stage:-
- Recommendation 1 (a). Not supported.
- Recommendation 1 (b).The government establish a steering committee to assist the parties in finalising the Local Infrastructure Contributions Calculator (LICC) ie the non road calculator. The committee would be chaired by an independent and appropriately qualified person (senior counsel) with a full understanding of VPA’s and their application. The committee would be supported by DPE and include representatives of both parties;
- Recommendation 2 (a) – (e). The steering committee will consider the following matters –
- the merits of each non road calculator (LICC) having regard to governmnet policy on VPA’s, Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and nexus;
- the merits on MERC’s submission that the Government require each Council to develop a ‘strategy and policy’ position based on it’s preferred ‘cents per tonne’;
- the reasonableness of applying a 1% contribution based on capital investment value;
- the ongoing role of IPART which to a large degree will be dependent on the nature of the agreed calculator and the need and ability to verify inputs;
- whether there is merit in using both the SIA calculator and ‘cents per tonne’ model in tandem to identify and calculate contributions to cover all relevant impacts.
- Recommendation 2 (f) – (i). Agreed that these items are outside the scope of the existing negotiations but will be considered later noting these are likely to be policy matters for DPE to determine;
- NSWMC & MERC agreed: Roads Contributions Calculator (RCC) and VPA Framework Negotiation Schematic (without the reference to IPART) reveiwed by the respective representatives by 20th September 2018 and NSWMC to consider a Hybrid Model for the Non Roads Calculator for the steering committee’s consideration in due course;
- DPE agreed to do this: To identify a list of candidates (senior counsel) for the independent chair position and distribute to the parties for consideration by 7th September 2018; to set up the steering committee by 21st September 2018 and to cover direct costs of the independent chair and the establishment of the steering committee with committee members to pay own meeting travel costs.
The aim of the steering committee is to go over the areas not in agreement and determine a path forward to get agreement, so the Guidelines can be finalised and adopted by delegates at our Annual General Meeting in November 2018. NSW Minerals Council are also keen to have these Guidelines finalised as soon as possible but needed agreement of the issues confirmed to take back to their Executive on 20th September 2018 to justify their investment in the project and any further involvement.
Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions (R4R)
The State Government has made changes to the criteria for Resources for Regions by decreasing the co contribution funding to 25% and including a hardship case provision, if the co contribution cant be met; introducing a Location Quotient (LQ) based on ABS 2016 statistics for mining affected areas and employment in mining activities where a Council has to get the LQ greater than 1 and if they do they don’t have to present a case that they are mining affected, if less than 1 they do; introduction of a minimum grant for the project at a scale of $1million, etc. They still want to see Councils putting in their dollars where they can cant be government funds! Rest of the Guidelines to be the same such as the Cost Benefit Ratio where the project must have a BCR greater than 1, which is in legislation for all grant considerations, set by the NSW Treasury.
Next meeting for RIAP is 6th September where 35 projects have been received for consideration of $190m value of projects for shortlisting to allocate $50m.
The website has been altered to reflect our strategic direction. There is a new part where only delegates can access minutes by a “log in” feature with the Executive Officer to canvass members to nominate a person from each Council to do this, if needed. Cost of the upgrade with the changes and to fro situation was in the vicinity of $5,000.
Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)
The next meeting of RAF has beens set down for 18th October 2018, Clr Hasler will provide an update to our November meetings.
Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – 8/9th November
We will have another regional meeting and a workshop on 8th/9th November 2018 in the Upper Lachlan Shire, at Crookwell, when its warmer!!! The Executive Officer has been discussing arrangements with the General Manager and the Council is keen to be involved. Upper Lachlan Shire Council area has the most number of wind farms in its Shire in Australia and on its website the Gullen Range Wind & Solar Farm is the first hybrid Solar & Wind Farm in Australia where they publish regular tours.
The Executive Committee will meet in the Upper Lachlan Council Chamber at 9am to 12pm on 8th November 2018 after this the Wind Farm workshop (commencing from 1pm to 4pm) will be held in the Crookwell Memorial Hall. The AGM & Ordinary meeting on 9th November 2018 will also be held in the Crookwell Memorial Hall. The dinner will be a la carte on the 8th November 2018 to be held at the Crookwell Services Club. Catering for the meetings will be provided by Leave it to Me!
Accommodation (for the Executive Committee that has to bump in on Wednesday night 7th November 2018 for their meeting next morning from 9am), has been reserved by the Upper Lachlan Council at the Uplands Pastures Motel. On the weekend from Friday 9th November 2018, after our meetings, there is a very popular Garden Festival being held, which may place some pressure on bookings if Festival goers want to book in beforehand. I recommend delegates book early. All accommodation options in and around the town of Crookwell are available on the following link, buses to/from the villages may be available or organised, if accommodation is required out of town: –
The membership drive continues and it is with regret to announce that Newcastle City Council has withdrwn from MERC reducing our numbers to 21, with Balranald still in abeyance. Newcastle has been approached to comprehend their decision and the minutes reveal that Council made the decision at a budget meeting to reduce their involvement in quite a few of their entities. Their delegate was the Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes who hadn’t been to a meeting since 2016 and they have have had a lot of chnages at the Executive level. All is not lost as the Councils nominated at our August meeting and the wind farming workshop new members will be approached and enticed to join us as per the following points and our marketing policy.
In discussions with prominent people in Local Government, the critical point of difference and selling points of our Association are that the Association is specific on its issues; has seen there is a need to be the voice for energy for Councils; is not hampered by getting involved with the broader whole of state matters; has a seat at the table; its advice is sought by the government; we have experienced delegates on government working groups representing the members voices; we are not political and don’t have any collaborative problems within our group of dedicated delegates!
Why wouldn’t a Council join or or why would they leave, you have to ask the question are they truly representing their constituents under the Local Government Act when mining and energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated planning processes adequate to do this? Keep talking to your neighbours about the benefits of being a member of MERC.
The Association at its May meeting adopted a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW and to formalise and strengthen the membership campaign.
The foray into wind farming in the south will again provide more opportunities to present our case for them to join us. Southern NSW and New England areas will be targeted in due course, like we have with Orana and will with the Upper Lachlan Council neighbouring areas.
Research Fellowship Update
A contact from Wollongong City Council via Cr Tania Brown for the Executive Officer to contact Professor Pascal De Perez has evolved and discussions will take place on opportunities with the University of Wollongong.
They seem very interested in the Ph Fellowship program with MERC and already have a relationship with Wollonging City Council in a variety of areas.
Project Working Party
The Project working party is:- Jason Linnane, General Manager Singleton Council (Chair) the Executive Officer, planning staff that regularly attend MERC meetings in Ron Zwicker, Heather Nicholls, David Henry and Andrew Johns.
The working party will work with the Executive Officer to review the current MERC CSG Plan in relation to the NSW Energy Plan; the existing panel of consultants; prepare a survey of member Councils for renewable energy, mining and other specialised skill sets that could be accessed by members to assist with resource sharing, etc. Ron Zwicker has done some excellent preliminary work on the projects already.
This initiative is a resource sharing one in itself! Thank you to all of the working party, the working party will will have the projects finalised for updates to delegates at the November Meetings.
Presentation to Federal Government House of Representatives Inquiry into the Impacts of Mining on Regional Economies
The Executive Officer presented the MERC submission to the Inquiry at Tamwoth on 4th September along with other presenters in the form of Gunnedah Shire Council (Deputy Mayor, Cr Gai Swain), Liverpool Plains Shire Council 9Mayor, Cr Andrew Hope), Gunnedah Chamber of Commerce (Stacey Cooke and Mike Broekman), NSW Minerals Council 9Steve Galilee), Whitehaven Coal (Paul Flynn), Red Chief Aboriginal Land Council (Mitchum Neave) and Patricia Duddy (Liverpool Plains Anti Coal Mining Action Group and Farmer).
The Inquiry consisted of the Chair (Barnaby Joyce, National Party, Member for New England) and Inquiry member (Neil Mitchell, Labor Party, Member for Lyons) and administrative staff and was recorded on Hansard. The Inquiry had been to Rockhampton, Moranbah in North Queensland and were on their way south form Tamworth.
The critical questions asked were built around – the procurement approach of mining companies (90 – 120 days payment terms to small businesses in some areas versus normal business practice of 30 days); the need for keeping jobs local; utilising existing TAFE facilities to skill up local workers for non trade skill jobs in the mines; how much money the mining companies were receiving for their products versus how much was going back into the regional economies to local businesses and local wages; and ways to rejuvenate regional economies.
The MERC submission provided details on the the impacts and included three case studies for Gunnedah Shire Council, Dubbo Regional Council and Singleton Councils to reflect how the Councils across NSW were impacted and dealing with the issues.
Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press (copied)
‘”Council agrees to a price for the sale of Wallaby Scrub Road” Media Release from Singleton Council, 21st August 2018. “Wallaby Scrub Road will be sold after Singleton Council agreed on a purchase price to sell the former road corridor to adjoining landholders Warkworth Mining Limited and Miller Pohang Coal Company subject to publication of the notice of road closure in the NSW Gazette. A purchase price of $27.5 million (including GST) plus costs was agreed in closed Council at tonight’s ordinary meeting, with Council’s resolution also granting authority to the Mayor and General Manager to sign and affix the Common Seal of Council to the transfer documents.
The proposal to close the road was driven by the Mt Thorley Continuation Project, which required the acquisition of the Wallaby Scrub Road corridor to continue operations. Council’s role as the road authority was to consider the impacts of the closure from a roads management perspective. It was not to consider the mine expansion completed by the Planning Assessment Commission.
The approval in principle from the Department of Industry relates to the closure of 5.99km of Wallaby Scrub Road from the intersection of Putty Road, but excludes a portion of Crown road adjoining the road corridor and is conditional on the land being sold to the adjoining landholders. General Manager Jason Linnane said the community rightfully expected the best value for the asset. “Council has made very balanced and considered decisions to close the road throughout this process and made a determination tonight that the sale was the best outcome for the community, notwithstanding the impact of the road closure,” he said.
“We are satisfied with the outcomes of the negotiation process and believe the negotiated price reflects the value of the property to our community and organisation. What’s more, legislation means all proceeds from the sale of the road corridor must be invested in the road network in the Singleton local government area, so the community will see continued benefits through improvements to local roads.” Mr Linnane said Council’s resolution was reliant on publication of notice of road closure in the NSW Government Gazette by 28 September 2018, when approval for the closure would lapse.
“Following registration and with a binding agreement in place for the purchase of the land, the formal closure will progress following the publication of the Gazettal notice,” he said. “A detailed traffic management plan has been developed to facilitate the closure of Wallaby Scrub Road, and the community will be informed in advance of the closure taking place.”
“NSW Lights up LED Plan” From the Industrial Careers 27th August 2018 newsletter: The NSW Government will spend $72 million from its Climate Change Fund to help businesses and households reduce energy costs. Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a $35 million dollar plan for about 250 manufacturing businesses to install energy efficient equipment and smart meters.
An additional $24.5 million will help low-income renters obtain energy efficient lighting, heating and hot water systems. The Government says these low-income renters could save up to $400 a year on their energy bills. The rest of the funds will be spent installing LED bulbs in streetlights, and to accelerate the roll-out of solar panels on government buildings, such as schools and hospitals.
National Conservation Council of NSW CEO Kate Smolski said the Berejiklian Government is still not doing enough to reach its target of zero net emissions by 2050. “NSW is on fire and the Government announces it is buying water pistols,” Ms Smolski said”. Refer www.industrial careers.com.au
CSIRO scores in safe gold trial. Also from the Industrial careers newsletter 27th August 2018 was this: “CSIRO has produced gold using a non-toxic chemical process without cyanide and mercury. The gold is the result of early industry trials of CSIRO’s ‘going for gold’ technology and was produced in partnership with small gold miner Eco Minerals Research at a demonstration plant in the Western Australian goldfields town of Menzies.
Cyanide is used in more than 90 per cent of global gold production, but producers are facing increasingly tough regulations that prevent or restrict its use due to environmental and health concerns .In response to recent spills of toxic cyanide, several regional agencies in the United States, South America and Europe have banned the use of cyanide for gold extraction.
The new technology replaces cyanide with thiosulphate, a non-toxic alternative, and a simple process flowsheet. The CSIRO research team behind the innovation has already had commercial success with another tailored cyanide-free gold solution developed with Barrick Gold specifically for their Goldstrike Mine in Nevada where it has been used for nearly four years to maintain production rates.
The $2.1 million demonstration project was made possible through $860,000 in funding from the Science and Industry Endowment fund (SIEF) and an Australian Government Innovation Connections grant. To reduce economic barriers to entry for small producers and help turn stranded gold deposits into production, CSIRO’s vision is to deliver the alternative process technology direct to mine sites via a mobile service.
A typical cyanide-based processing plant costs around $30 million, whereas the new technology has a lower capital investment costing as little as $2 – 2.5 million to build”.
“Unclear future could harm industry”
From the Industrial Career newsletter 28th August 2018:- “An energy expert says Australia’s unclear power policies could lead to an expert brain drain. Engineers and scientists might start looking outside Australia for work if the country’s renewable energy future remains uncertain, according to Kobad Bhavnagri, Australian head at research organisation at Bloomberg NEF.
“Australia may well be facing a big brain drain in new energy technologies after 2020,” Mr Bhavnagri has told the SBS. “Because there won’t be the projects getting built and the dollars being spent that put people in jobs. The industry that’s currently employing thousands of people and going gangbusters is probably going to come to a screeching halt,” he said.
Australia has seen record levels of investment in renewable energy, including wind and solar, in recent years. The country is now on track to beat last year’s record $8.5 billion investment in the sector. But Mr Bhavnagri says this is not enough, and that longer-term solutions are needed. “Australia’s pretty far behind because we still have electricity meters in our houses that a person has to come around and manually read on a sheet of paper,” he said. “That’s a really old school way of doing things and it doesn’t allow you to run a smart power grid.”
‘Morrison makes powerful moves” Also from the Industrial Careers site 28th August 2018:-
The new PM has appointed an anti-wind energy minister, and a coal lobbyist as chief of staff. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has emerged on top after the chaotic self-destruction of the Federal Government. In his first moves since seizing power, PM Morrison’s new cabinet sees the energy and environment portfolios split apart once more.
Angus Taylor, a leading anti-wind campaigner, has been named as energy minister, while former mining industry lawyer Melissa Price has become the new environment minister.
Mr Morrison called Mr Taylor the “minister for getting energy prices down”, who would take over NEG talks to ensure the energy reforms would be “about reliability, price, keeping the lights on and getting prices down”.
Mr Taylor recently told 2GB that “the obsession with emissions at the expense of reliability and affordability has been a massive mistake. I do think that we’re at a point now where we can get that balance right,” he said.
Mr Taylor has campaigned for years against wind farms, both near his family’s property and in general, including speaking at the 2013 Wind Power Fraud Rally in Canberra.
He reportedly told the 100-odd attendees of the anti-wind power rally that the technology had caused regional communities to tear “themselves to pieces, cousins versus cousins, brothers versus brothers, for massive subsidies to the wind industry, facilitated by the Federal Government.”
He has described anthropogenic climate change as “the new climate religion”, and told Parliament that “religious belief is based on faith not facts. The new climate religion, recruiting disciples every day, has little basis on fact and everything to do with blind faith.”
The new energy minister has described state-based emissions reduction targets as “insane”, and strongly opposed the ACT government’s 100 per cent renewable energy target. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also named John Kunkel, former deputy CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia, as his chief of staff.
Mr Kunkel served as deputy CEO of the Minerals Council for over 6 years before taking up a key political lobbying position for major coal producer, Rio Tinto. Mr Kunkel has also worked with the consultancy Concept Economics, which is run by the outspoken opponents of climate action and renewable energy schemes, Henry Ergas and Brian Fisher.
Analysts are investigating what PM Morrison, who once famously waved a large lump of coal around in Parliament to prove it was not scary, will mean for Australia’s climate and energy future”.
“Rural communities receive windfalls from wind farms” From the Australian Wind Alliance web page www.windalliance.org.au Distributed renewable energy projects connected to local communities is the future of energy generation in Australia, and together we’re making it happen. AWA’s latest report Building Stronger Communities: Wind’s growing role in regional Australia looks at the many ways wind farms are connecting with communities through benefit sharing. Making sure the benefits of wind farms stay local means wind energy can build relationships and make a positive contribution to the social fabric of rural and regional Australia.
The report investigates how income and investment from wind farms flows to local communities in the windiest parts of Australia (see image), from payments to landowners and sponsorship through to community co-ownership and co-investment. The report also takes a deeper look at Community Enhancement Funds (CEF), and the hundreds of projects they support around Australia.
Country Fire Services, Country Women’s Associations, Landcare groups, golf and bowling clubs, men’s sheds and progress associations are just some of the many organisations that have run projects, built community infrastructure and supported their communities through CEF grants. Wind farm community enhancement funds have supported community projects ranging from indigenous and community gardens, workshops for resilient living and health initiatives, food coops, local tourism marketing materials and upgrades to community facilities such as maternity and children’s rooms, playgrounds and sporting clubs. Rural Fire Services, Surf Lifesaving Clubs, native plant groups, theatres, public schools, libraries, kindergartens and community support services have all purchased or upgraded vital equipment.
You name it, somewhere, a local community has found a way to fix it, upgrade it or make it happen with the support of wind farm CEF funding. AWA is working with communities and the renewable energy industry to make sure wind farms continue to generate and deliver benefits locally and nationally, making the transitions to 100% renewables work for all of us.
Andrew will be at our Wind Farming workshop on 8th November 2018 to talk to this report.
If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils.
Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email email@example.com or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.
Greg Lamont Clr Peter Shinton
Executive Officer Chair