MERC Newsletter – September 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the September 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 from 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)

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.

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.

Current position is that the working party is awaiting the DPE to advise who is to chair the Steering Committee before the working party convenes. The position from NSW Minerals Council who met on 20th September 2018 is that they accept progress to date with the Roads Calculator methodology, the Schematic for the DA timeline and parties to agree on a mediator (not IPART) upfront which the MERC working party agrees to as well.

Lisa Corbyn Report on the NSW Development Assessment Process

The Lisa Corbyn Report has finally been received after it was completed in August 2017 and delegates will recall Clr Hasler has been requesting its release as a member of the Regional Advisory Forum. At our August meeting one year later, delegates resolved that more stringent steps be taken to have it released using the means the public have to access government information. This approach wasn’t needed as the report arrived beforehand.

The report and the response from the NSW Department of Planning & Environment (DPE) is being analysed by Warwick Giblin & will be submitted to delegates before AGM. Details are outlined on the DPE webpage and can be seen below and accessed by delegates:

Assessment reports independent review

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment commissioned Lisa Corbyn – former head of the NSW Environment Protection Authority and the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water – to conduct an independent review of the Department’s assessment reports for State Significant projects.

Ms Corbyn consulted with a broad range of stakeholders including community groups, industry groups, professional associations, the former Planning Assessment Commission, the NSW Land & Environment Court, the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy, and a number of NSW government agencies and local councils.

Stakeholders were asked to provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the Department’s assessment reports, and offer suggestions for improvement. Ms Corbyn made 15 recommendations to strengthen and improve the Department’s assessment reports. The Department accepted all 15 recommendations and implementation of reforms and actions to address them is well underway.

Read the Department’s response                       Read the report

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions (R4R)

 A recent meeting for RIAP was held on 6th September where 35 projects have been received for consideration with $190m value of projects for shortlisting, to allocate $50m against the new criteria. A shortlist has been agreed on and awaiting clarification of some projects by Infrastructure NSW before RIAP is called for a meeting again for the adoption of a final list of approved projects to be considered by Cabinet later in the year. Those that were good mining related projects but not shortlisted for not meeting the criteria despite the changes to the criteria, are going to be directed towards other funding programs if eligible and there were other projects that were simply not eligible and missed out altogether.

Website

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. The Executive Officer has submitted a request to members for a nominated person to have access to the log in feature, response to be in by 8th October 2018.

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

The next meeting of RAF has been 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 our next meeting and a workshop on 8th/9th November 2018 in the Upper Lachlan Shire, at Crookwell, when its warmer.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.

All accomodation 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 accomodation is required out of town: –

https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/goulburn-area/crookwell/accommodation.

Urgent – Please advise the Executive Officer who is attending the meetings in Crookwell 8/9th November 2018 as soon as possible for catering and quorum purposes.

Annual General Meeting – Election of Executive Committee

Giving delegates a “heads up” regarding the Annual General Meeting to be held on 9th November 2018 in Community Hall Crookwell commencing at 9am as it is election time for delegates to vote for nominations for Chair, 2 Deputy Chairs and 3 others as members of the 6 person Executive Committee.

All positions on Executive Committee will be open and subject to nomination. For the information of delegates, if you intend standing for the Executive Committee, the election processes are outlined in the MERC constitution on the web site and the Returning Officer will be the General Manager, Upper Lachlan Shire Council, Mr John Bell. The Executive Officer will be calling for nominations in October as per the constitution. If any potential candidates have any enquiries in regard to the process before the meeting please discuss them with the Executive Officer.

Membership Campaign

The following Councils have been invited to attend the wind farming workshop at Crookwell on 8th November, networking dinner that night plus the meeting next day as observers to see how MERC operates: Inverell, Glen Innes – Severn, Hilltops, Snowy Valleys, Snowy Monaro, Goulburn – Mulwaree, Queanbeyan – Palerang, Yass Valley, Upper Lachlan in view of their wind farming developments.

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 stregthen 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 have taken place on opportunities with the University of Wollongong. A spokesperson (Dr Castilla) will attend the Executive Committee meeting/workshop on 8th November 2018 to discuss MOU, topics, etc.

They seem very interested in the Ph Fellowship program with MERC and already have a relationship with Wollonging City Council and Bathurst 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 is working with the Executive Officer and Chair to review the current MERC CSG Policy in relation to the NSW Gas 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.

Projects update:- members have been requested to complete a “skills survey” on their staff expertise to be compiled as a resource sharing initiative, to be back with the Executive Officer by 8th October 2018. Letters have been sent to the existing panel of consultants that responded to the formal Expression of Interest process in 2014 seeking their response/interest to new criteria that are relevant to members in this day and age for consideration by the working party in early October 2018. Preliminary work has commenced on the current Coal Seam Gas Policy and NSW Gas Plan by the working party.

Presentation to Federal Government House of Representatives Inquiry into the Impacts of Mining on Regional Economies

The submissions from various organisations, businesses and indivduals throughout Australia are on the following site for delegates to follow:

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Industry_Innovation_Science_and_Resources/MiningSector/Submissions

There were 56 submissions, including some confidential, others from Regional Councils and entities throughout Australia.The MERC submission included details on case studies at Gunnedah Shire, Dubbo Regional and Singleton Councils and generally across the state.. Cessnock City Council provided a separate submission which is very detailed and makes some very good arguments specific to their situation as a local government area and Gunnedah attended the Inquiry with Deputy Mayor Cr Gae Swain presenting their submission.

The main issues raised consistently in all submissions from the non miners were:- global/corporate procurement; cashflow terms of payment; lack of opportunities for local businesses and local people (if they not already trained and equipped to get jobs and contracts) to be assisted/educated to be potential contractors and employees in order to keep the towns and villages vibrant and occupied; changes to the Royalties for Regions program – put the money back into the regional infrastructure; analysis of the cumulative effects of mining on communities and businesses; better use of TAFE/local schools to train youth to work locally so they remain in the regions so towns don’t die, etc.

There were a lot of excellent recommendations and it will be interesting to see where this Inquiry goes and what it does with them.

Revised Voluntary Land Acquisition & Mitigation Policy (VLAMP)

The Revised Voluntary Land Acquisition & Mitigation Policy (VLAMP) is now released and available for viewing on DPE website, details below.

“The NSW Government’s revised Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy (VLAMP) for State Significant Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industry Developments has now been finalised and is available on the Department of Planning and Environment’s website. It applies to:

  • new applications made after the policy has commenced;
  • existing applications that were not yet determined when the policy commenced; and
  • modification applications that involve increases to the approved dust or noise impacts of a development.

The Department has also released a report summarising the feedback received during the public exhibition of the draft revised VLAMP and how this has informed the final version. We would like to thank everyone who shared their feedback and advice during this process”.

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press (copied)

Contact

Over 800,000 renters are closer to benefitting from rooftop solar” From the Department of Planning and Environment info@enews.planning.nsw.gov.au site:-“100 residential and commercial tenants taking part in the Clean Energy Knowledge Sharing Initiative will see their annual bills reduce collectively by over $25,000, saving some 130 tonnes of carbon emissions”….. for more details go to the site or see a condensed version below.

“More than 800,000 renters in NSW are a step closer to sharing in the benefits of rooftop solar thanks to a NSW Government initiative backing clean energy projects.  Minister for Resources and Energy Don Harwin said Sun Tenants, a Sydney company that helps renters and property owners enjoy the benefits of solar, has received $33,000 from the NSW Government’s Clean Energy Knowledge Sharing Initiative to install solar panels on 100 residential and commercial rental properties.

“I’m delighted to announce that we are backing Sun Tenants on a pilot project to help people who are renting property join the solar revolution,” said Minister Harwin. “This fantastic project is a real win–win for property investors and tenants and has already been shown to have halved tenants’ energy bills in an earlier pilot scheme. “It’s one of 10 projects we are supporting across the state as part of the NSW Government’s $300,000 Clean Energy Knowledge Sharing Initiative.”

Mr Harwin said “the Government’s investment would leverage an additional $680,000 of private sector investment as well as close to $400,000 project participant and industry–in–kind contributions to help deliver the successful co–funded projects. He said “The NSW Government is also helping 4,500 vulnerable households take control of their energy bills by installing roof top solar under its Home Energy Action Program. “Government relies on strong partnerships with the private sector as part of our transition to a clean, affordable and reliable energy future,” Mr Harwin said.

“The Clean Energy Knowledge Sharing Initiative provides an opportunity for innovators and early adopters to test and trial new clean energy solutions.” Sun Tenants founder Dr Bjorn Sturmberg said the 100 tenants taking part in the project would see their annual bills reduce collectively by more than $25,000. “This pilot will help people save some 130 tonnes of carbon emissions, reducing tenants’ bills and helping property owners increase the value of their investment,” Dr Sturmberg said.

“Sun Tenants incentives owners to install solar by arranging for tenants to pay a little extra rent in exchange for free solar power. Our technology monitors tenants’ solar savings, showing how the savings exceed any increase in rent. “One of the best ways to attract and retain quality tenants is to create shared value, with solar benefiting everyone financially while reducing our impact on the planet.”

Since 2001, there have been 422,662 small solar units installed in NSW, with Census data showing 814,549 renter households state–wide”.

“Barnaby Joyce shines spotlight on where mining wealth goes’ Jamieson Murphy from Northern Daily Leader writes on 4th September 2018.  Mr Joyce’s inquiry in to the relationship between the mining sector and regional businesses was in Tamworth on Tuesday, hearing from local councils and mining companies.  “Every day, dozens of trains burdened with roughly $66-million worth of coal pass through Gunnedah and the Liverpool Plains – New England MP Barnaby Joyce says he wants to see more of that money stay local, rather than being carted off to the capital cities. What is important to me, is the comparative analysis of what is extracted from a district, and the wealth that remains in a district,” Mr Joyce said “There is immense wealth going to other places, and small amounts staying.”

Liverpool Plains Shire mayor Andrew Hope said his council wants to see more of the money generated from the region’s mining sector spent on the “infrastructure pinch points” it created. “The Werris Creek overpass is one of those pinch points, which we’ve got an estimate on the books for $14 million,” Cr Hope said “With trains coming through so often, it cuts off our emergency services, breaks the town in half and it’s about a 40-kilometre round trip to the highway to get around it.”

Mr Joyce said based on evidence heard in the inquiry, the state government made about $6.6m a day in royalties from the region’s mining industry, based on current coal prices. 

“So that Gunnedah overpass is two – day’s worth of royalties.” Mr Joyce said.

Gunnedah Shire deputy mayor Gae Swain told the inquiry she’d like to see a “formalised expectation” with mining companies to contribute to public facilities such as swimming pools and sporting grounds. I think there should be some process where that social and moral responsibility is picked up in to discussions,” Cr Swain said “Large numbers of workers and their families moving in to our shire will lead to further social shortages in facilities such as housing, schooling and childcare.” Refer www.northerndailyleader.com.au

“ASIC urges climate details Article in the Industrial Careers News 24th September 2018 states: “ASIC says Australian companies should do more to disclose risks posed by climate change. The regulator says most ASX 100 companies consider the potential risks posed by climate change, but the practice of disclosing these risks to investors is “considerably fragmented, with information provided to the market in differing forms across a wide range of means of disclosure”. ASIC has published a report on climate risk disclosures by 60 companies in the ASX 300, in 25 recent initial public offering (IPO) prospectuses, and across 15,000 annual reports. Of these 60 companies, about 17 per cent identified climate change as a material risk to their business. The percentage of annual reports of all listed companies that contained climate change-related content fell fallen from 22 per cent in 2011 to 14 per cent in 2017.

“Climate change is a foreseeable risk facing many listed companies in the Australian market in a range of different industries,” ASIC commissioner John Price said. “Directors and officers of listed companies need to understand and continually reassess existing and emerging risks (including climate risk) that may affect the company’s business – for better or for worse.”

Some analysts say Australia’s generic risk disclosure laws for companies should apply to climate change. “There’s a difference between what ASIC says the laws say and what companies are doing,” said Will van de Pol from Market Forces. “It’s clear from this report and our financial research that many Australian companies are not meeting their legal requirements. It means that investors are being left in the dark about the risk to the companies that they own from climate change.” Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au

“Schott fires at PM’s plans” Article in the Industrial Careers News 24th September 2018 states: Energy Security Board chair Kerry Schott has warned the Morrison government against threats to energy companies. Federal energy minister Angus Taylor and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have threatened to call a royal commission or break up energy companies if prices do not move down soon. But Dr Schott says these measures are not likely to be helpful.

“I think what will happen going forward is that the reliability obligation part of the NEG will probably get support. We’ll have to wait for the rest of it. The sad thing is the drop in prices that would have occurred in the wholesale market will be less than it otherwise would [have been],” she said at a recent Infrastructure Partnerships Australia conference.

“And the other sad thing is that while the national government is in the state that it’s in at the moment, there is a flavour of more market intervention than just stepping back and letting the states and the market get on with it. The next planned Council of Australian Governments Energy Council meeting has been cancelled, and reports say a teleconference version will be held in mid-October. The reliability obligation of the NEG could be signed off at a formal meeting in December”. Dr Schott says.

Although the federal government has scrapped carbon emissions targets in the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), the experts say the reliability obligation will be needed before the closure of AGL Energy’s ageing Liddell Power Station in NSW in 2022. Some states are unhappy that the government is slowing progress.

“We continue to get nothing but chaos and confusion about energy policy in Canberra,” Queensland energy minister Anthony Lynham said. “We are on a national electricity network that requires national leadership. This has gone on for too long.”

Dr Schott says she has spoken with Mr Taylor since his appointment three weeks ago. She said he is focused on the ACCC’s recommendations for the government to buy power from new generation projects to support investment, but “he is quite interested in progressing the reliability obligation” though “not necessarily in its current architecture. We just need to be careful we are not doing anything the market was going to do anyway,” she said.

Refer www.industrialcareers.com.au for further details.

 “Gas sector want climate clarity  Another good article of interest in the Industrial Careers News is this: “The gas industry has become the latest to call on the Federal Government to come up with a climate and energy policy. Gas companies and associated industries says that investors need certainty if Australia wants to take advantage of opportunities for developing new gas and renewables projects. As policymakers seek to tackle the energy trilemma and solve a decade-long failure to effectively integrate energy policy and climate policy, ongoing uncertainly prevails in the market,” APA Group executive of transmission Rob Wheals told a recent industry conference.

“Uncertainty affects investment decisions, and ultimately prices and energy reliability for all Australians. And today we are still here. We still don’t have a national energy policy.”

Gas industry advisers and consultants say the industry is not necessarily in conflict with renewables, especially in regard to the Federal Government’s support for the construction of more coal-fired power stations. “The idea of building new coal-fired power stations is in my mind a backward step,” said analyst Martin Wilkes from RISC, which does consultancy work for companies including Santos.

“I think we need to be looking to close off coal from the power generation mix, and rely on something that will be more reactive, and more in keeping with partnering renewables, which is what gas is.”

Deloitte analysis says Australia will probably not be able to switch from coal straight to renewables. “Gas is by far the cleanest of the fossil fuels and it has critical mass in global demand, so it’s easier to accelerate switching from coal to gas in power stations than directly pick up all that demand with renewables,” Deloitte director of consulting, Alan Samuel, said.

Contact

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 peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                     Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC NEWSLETTER – August 2018

Introduction

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.

Website

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: –

https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/goulburn-area/crookwell/accommodation.

Membership Campaign

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.

READ THE REPORT HERE

Andrew will be at our Wind Farming workshop on 8th November 2018 to talk to this report.

Contact

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 peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                     Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC Newsletter – July 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the July 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 about how Councils can manage wind energy developments more effectively with some excellent Council examples, with the focus on wind farming and renewable energy generally. The workshop at Cobat has set the bar high!

Invitations will be sent to Yass Valley Council, Goulburn Mulwaree Regional Council, Oberon Shire Council, Cowra Shire Council, Hilltops Regional Council, Snowy River Regional Council, Glen Innes Shire Council, Inverell Shire Council, Queanbeyan City Councils etc., with operational, under construction or proposed wind farms in NSW as outlined on the Dept Planning website.

Yass Valley Council recently held their own in house workshop on the “for and against” arguments of wind farms so Councillors and the community can be better informed when they are required to determine any wind farm developments and manage existing developments.  Director Planning Services, Yass Shire Council, Chris Barry has been invited to present to our workshop, awaiting a response.

Mike Young (DPE Director Resource & Energy Assessments), who presented to the Cobar workshop and meeting is interested in attending in view of his senior role in the DPE and in assessing developments such as wind farms.

We will be pursuing the Clean Energy Council, Clean Energy Regulator, National Wind Alliance and Wind Farm Commissioner to attend and participate which will give the workshop a more in depth perspective.To top it off, hopefully the Deputy Premier and Leader of the National Party, Hon John Barilaro can be enticed to attend and participate, as the member for Monaro, a bit further south of Crookwell.

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.

Next MERC meetings in Sydney 9/10th August 2018

The Executive Committee will meet at 2.00pm in the McKell Room, NSW Parliament House, on 9th August 2018. The Ordinary meeting will be held the next day on 10th August 2018 in the Preston Stanley Meeting Room, NSW Parliament House to commence from 9.00am and finish at 1.00pm with lunch. It is near the Strangers Dining Room, delegates will have to be screened to get in, so allow time to do so.You will have to wear lanyards with your name on them to be provided by MERC to enter the secured area where we will be. We have 16 Councils represented at 2/8/18.

If you are attending the meetings on 9th (Executive Committee) and 10th August 2018 (Ordinary General) in Sydney at NSW Parliament House meeting and you haven’t already done so please can you advise the Executive Officer by email to info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au as soon as possible for registrations, catering has been a quesstimate!!!.

Speakers for the Meeting in NSW Parliament House 10th August 2018

Speakers confirmed for the meeting on 10th August 2018 on Resources for Regions are:

  • Phil Donato, Member for Orange (Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party);
  • Michael Johnsen, Member for Upper Hunter (National Party) and Gary Barnes, Deputy Secretary Premier & Cabinet’s Department (representing Deputy Premier, Hon John Barilaro);
  • Hon Adam Searle MLC, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Shadow Minister for Industry, Resources & Energy and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations;
  • Matthew Nelson, Director Complinace Operations for Andrew Keon, Chief Compliance Officer, Resources Regulator.

The Greens have been contacted and have advised that Jeremy Buckingham is the nominated spokesperson for them on mining & energy related issues, awaiting confirmation of attendance. If they all turn up it should be a very interesting session especially with the impending State Elections in March 2019!

Update on the Joint Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

A copy of the draft report from Chris Wilson was forwarded to delegates before the meetings on 10/11th May 2018 and following a briefing from the working party and discussions with delegates at the Ordinary meeting on 11th May, it was resolved that the concerns raised be put into a submission to Chris Wilson prior to him submitting the report to the DPE. This was done and Chris Wilson has forwarded the report to DPE on 30th June 2018 with our comments therein.

We are waiting on a copy of the report for further consideration by the working party. The Executive Officer has been speaking with Stephen Barry at DPE to get a copy of the report and to set a date to have a meeting with NSW Minerals Council CEO and their new Director Policy; the DPE and our VPA working party members, as soon as possible. The aim of the forum is to go over the areas not in agreement and determine a path forward to get agreement, so the Guidelines can be finalised by our Annual General Meeting in November 2018. To date of this Newsletter a meeting wont be held until after week beginning 13th August 2018 when DPE organises it. Still no report to hand but meeting imminent.

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions (R4R)

At the Ordinary General meeting held in Cobar on 11th May 2018, the Association resolved to invite leaders of the State Government, Opposition, Greens and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Parties to talk to delegates about concerns we have with the current Resources for Regions criteria i.e. cost benefit analysis, co – contribution and original intention of returning funds to the mining affected areas from where the royalties were raised, for infrastructure developments, etc. There has been a good response as outlined in the speakers for next meeting section of this newsletter.

The Executive Officer has been advised by Chris Hanger, NSW Infrastructure, on the changes the government is considering to make to the criteria for Resources for Regions easier to meet by Councils by decreasing the co contribution funding to 25% and including a hardship case provision, if this 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! Rest of the Guidelines to be the same such as the Cost Benefit Ratio.

Short listed applicants were promised in March 2018 that the last round of the Resources for Regions Grants would be released by end of May 2018, the process started mid last year….

Website

The website has been altered to reflect our new direction, with further changes to be considered by the Executive Committee on 9th August, have a look and provide feedback. There is a new part where delegates can access minutes by either registration or log in with Execiutive Officer (to be determined), to ensure there is a members only feature.

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

MERC delegate, Cr Owen Hasler attended the RAF meeting on 21st June 2018 and will provide an informed summary at our Ordinary meeting in August. In the meantime, he has requested that since the Voluntary Land Acquisition for Mining Projects from Adjoining Owners (VLAMP) Guidelines developed by the DPE have been implemented this year, if any Councils have had non compliance issues or where compliance is seen to be less than expected or not reflective of the VLAMP Guidelines they should raise them with the DPE. The contact persons are Dr Oliver Holmes, Director Compliance and Marcus Rae, Director Planning as they are looking for specific examples where this has been happening.

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 Acting 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: –

https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/goulburn-area/crookwell/accommodation.

Membership Campaign

The Executive Officer has been informed formally that Warren and Walgett Shire Councils have resolved to join the Association and Balranald have indicated they would verbally but are yet to formalise it. Gilgandra have advised “Council resolved to decline the invitation to join at this stage on the basis that there is no solar farm in the Gilgandra Shire Council area with a voluntary planning agreement. Membership will be reconsidered if a formal solar project application occurs in the future”.

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.

 Australian Mining Cities Alliance (AMCA)

The meeting at Cobar on 11th May 2018 provided the opportunity for the Mayor of Broken Hill City Council, Cr Darriea Turley to explain the background to the formation of the alliance and its objectives as a Federal body and its objectives.

Since then an invitation to join the AMCA has been received and provided to the Executive Committee to make a recommendation to delegates on Friday 10th August 2018. The fee structure is interesting if MERC wanted to join “as a not for profit organisation with a strong stake in the relevance of mining in Australia’s mining cities”, it will cost a one off $10,000 fee plus $7000 pa.

 Research Fellowship Update

The Executive Officer has had discussions with representatives of the University Technology Sydney on how they could be involved in an arrangement with MERC via an MOU to prepare papers on specific mining and energy related topics that are outlined in the Strategic Plan, as a research partner in lieu of a research fellowship arrangement. Trying to get them to meet and or discuss options with Executive Officer has been difficult in view of the workload of the Professor involved.

Project Working Party

Jason Linnane, General Manager Singleton Council has agreed to Chair the working party consisting of 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 preliminary work on the projects already.

This initiative is a resource sharing one in itself! Thank you all The working party will have the projects finalised for updates to the November Meetings.

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press (copied)

‘”Hunter Valley Mine winding down10th July 2018, Refer www.industrialcareer.com.au/news

Yancoal has announced over 200 employees will be stood down or re-deployed from the Austar coal mine in NSW. The mine at Paxton, west of Cessnock, will be stripped down to a skeleton crew in line with compliance requirements. The 100-year-old mine was the site of an incident in 2014 that killed two men, Philip Grant, 35, of Metford and 49-year-old Jamie Mitchell of Aberdare. They were working about 10 kilometres from the mine’s entry and 500 metres below ground when a wall collapsed.

All underground longwall production activities at the operation have been prohibited following two prohibition notices issued after significant coal burst events in which coal suddenly and violently erupts into the mine. The first Resources Regulator notice came in February 2018 when approximately 50 tonnes of coal was ejected from the face of the mine, injuring one worker. A second notice came in May 2018 after an estimated 60 tonnes of coal was ejected, with about two tonnes landing in the walkway. No workers were injured, but the coal burst caused significant damage to equipment.

The mine has permission for some controlled cutting under strict conditions to test additional ways to mitigate a coal burst risk. The Resources Regulator says the notices will remain in place until detailed geotechnical assessments and comprehensive risk controls are implemented.

Yancoal Australia CEO Reinhold Schmidt said efforts are being made to move employees to other mines. “We have worked to redeploy the majority of the Austar workforce to the Ashton, Abel and Moolarben underground mines in the interests of providing continued employment for our people,” he said. “Until all legal avenues have been exhausted and we can re-enter the mine to move the longwall, we are unable to continue proposed longwall activity.”

 

The State of Clean Energy: How are the states tracking on renewables?” Tara Tyrell, Queesnland Mining & Energy Bulletin, July 25th 2018.

Victoria is undergoing a rapid transition from one dominated by brown coal to one where close to half of consumption is met by renewables. By 2020 Victorian renewables plants will generate 39.4% of the state’s power consumption, a dramatic expansion from the 17.7% share in 2015. By 2030 renewable generation would grow to 45.7% of consumption thanks to ongoing growth of rooftop solar alone.

Queensland has awoken from its renewable slumber and has demonstrated the fastest growth in renewables supply and development. Between 2010 and 2015 there was almost no expansion in large-scale renewables in QLD and renewables represented just 7.4% of 2015 consumption. By 2020 Queensland will meet 25% of electricity consumption from renewables. Even more impressively, the projects being pursued by companies for development could generate power equal to more than 90% of consumption in 2030, but most of these projects are unlikely to get off the ground given the weak targets on offer under the Turnbull government’s National Energy Guarantee.

NSW is the laggard of the pack, falling short of 20% renewables by 2020 – well behind other states. NSW is currently on track to just 19.7% renewables by 2020 and 26.1% by 2030.

Other states are outpacing NSW in terms of project development. The projects currently being scoped could generate more than half its expected 2030 electricity consumption if they were to be constructed, but again this is unlikely without a major change in state policy and much stronger NEG targets.

Tasmania and South Australia are moving towards a position where they could generate more renewable energy than they could consume, even with greater energy storage. Projections suggest their future is as clean power exporters.

South Australia is on track to renewables generation equal to 70% of the state’s electricity consumption by 2020 and 85% by 2030. Its full pipeline of projects undergoing development could generate more than twice the state’s 2030 consumption. Thanks to two new wind farms Tasmania can continue to meet its needs entirely with renewable energy. But it could generate 20% more renewable energy than it consumes if its development projects were to proceed to construction.

Get Up Campaigns Director Miriam Lyons said the REI reveals that with strong targets and the right political leadership Australia could have a clean and green future, but development will remain dormant under current federal government policies and progress will be lost.

“The rapid ramp-up in investment in the past three years have shown the kind of growth possible with strong targets and supporting policy and demonstrates we can reach for far greater targets down the track. The NEG does nothing to build on this progress and sends us backwards when we could be bounding forward as a world leader in clean energy, creating jobs and taking action on climate change in the process. What the REI demonstrates is there’s a clear option here, we kill off renewables growth and pollute the planet with a do nothing NEG, or we develop a policy that sets strong targets and continues the renewables boom and delivers a cleaner and greener Australia.”

Satisfaction with electricity providers declining” Tara Tyrell, Queensland Mining & Energy Bulletin, 25th July 2018, reports on the latest satisfaction levels (Roy Morgan) as follows:

New results from Roy Morgan show that customer satisfaction with electricity providers in the 12 months to May 2018 was only 56.6%, down from 60.4% in the 12 months to May 2017. NPS® for electricity providers is also now at a very low minus 47.6.  These low satisfaction and NPS levels show why 2.1 million customers are considering switching over the next 12 months. These are the latest findings from Roy Morgan’s ‘Customer Satisfaction – Electricity Providers Report’ which is based on in-depth personal interviews conducted face-to-face with over 50,000 Australians per annum in their own homes, including over 14,000 interviews with people who rated their satisfaction with their electricity connection. 

Red Energy retains satisfaction lead. Red Energy with a satisfaction rating of 70.0% remains in top position among the largest providers, narrowly ahead of Simply Energy (65.0%) and Energy Australia (64.4%). There is a wide range of satisfaction levels across the major players, with Ergon Energy on 53.7% being currently the lowest performer. With satisfaction declining by 3.8% points across the total market over the last year, it is not surprising that declines in satisfaction were seen across nearly all the major players with the exception of Actew AGL which improved by 2.4% points, Ergon up 2.4% points, and Aurora Energy (up 1.1% points). Both of the largest players showed a drop in satisfaction, with Origin down 9.4% points (to 54.2%) and AGL down 0.6% points (to 61.2%).

Satisfaction level with electricity provider impacts switching intentions. The survey shows that the level of satisfaction across the five point scale has a direct impact on switching intentions. For example, nearly half (43.7%) of the customers who are ‘very dissatisfied’ with their electricity provider say that they are either ‘very likely’ or ‘fairly likely’ to switch companies in the next 12 months. Even more than a third (36.0%) of those who are ‘fairly dissatisfied’ say they are likely to switch in the next 12 months. Those customers who are ‘very satisfied’ have a very low intention to switch at only 4.9%, which is well below the current industry average of 10.6%. Even those who are only ‘fairly satisfied’ have a below average intention (8.1%) to switch providers in the next 12 months.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan, says: “The decline in satisfaction with electricity providers over the last year, down to only 56.6% is of major concern because it is well below the level of 73.5% when this survey began in 2009. It is likely that the most recent decline is a result of the continual negative news regarding energy shortages, blackouts, reliability, price increases and general lack of confidence in the long term direction the government is taking to tackle these issues. It is important to note that although most of the major electricity providers are operating in a similar negative environment, the fact that there are major differences in satisfaction show that there are lesson to be learnt by examining what the better performers are doing right. The data used here is only a small part of the extensive data that we have available on all major utilities. To find out more, ask Roy Morgan.”

“Shenhua Exploration Licence Approved” Refer 24th July 2018, www.industrialnews.com.au

The NSW Government has partly renewed the coal exploration licence for the controversial Shenhua Watermark project. While some exploration will be allowed to continue, the Government says it will not release other parts of the Liverpool Plains for exploration. Resources Minister Don Harwin said the decision was made after a rigorous assessment.

It comes about a year after Mr Harwin announced a Government buy-back of 51.4 per cent of Shenhua’s exploration licence, at a cost of $262 million. The Government said at the time that it wanted to protect the farming future of the Liverpool Plains, which is suffering under severe drought conditions. Now, Mr Harwin says “prime agricultural land of black soil plains” is protected from mining exploration. The deal “struck the right balance between protecting the area’s farming future while encouraging investment in the resources sector,” he said. “We will not release other parts of the Liverpool Plains for exploration.”

The company still needs mining production leases and other approval from the State Government before it can do any mining. Federal Government sign-off on biodiversity and water management plans would also be required before production begins.

The state’s opposition said it was a “disturbing development” with a “very significant and detrimental impact” likely. “The water table is all linked, water that serves the Liverpool Plains will also be the water table that the mining company will need to draw on for its mine,” Labor Resources spokesperson Adam Searle said. “The whole ecosystem in that area is completely linked and it’s completely false to suggest that there will be no impact on the Liverpool Plains.”

Contact

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 peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                      Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC Newsletter – June 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the June 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.

 

Recognition of Achievement – Cr Lilliane Brady OAM

On 2nd July whilst undertaking her Country Forums, the President of LGNSW, Linda Scott when in Cobar, presented the Mayor of Cobar, Cr Lilliane Brady OAM (Deputy Chair of the Association) with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for her outstanding contribution to Local Government and the mining & rural community, for a period greater than 17 years. Well done Lilliane, you are a deserving recipient of this prestigious Award, presented in recognition of your continued dedicated service to your community.

 

2018 Australian Mining Industry Annual Lecture – The Hon Andrew Robb AO

The Chair of our Association Peter Shinton and Deputy Chair Cr Lilliane Brady OAM were personally invited by the Minerals Council of Australia Chair, following their attendance last year at the Prime Ministers Parliamentary Dinner, to attend the 2018 Australian Mining Industry Annual Lecture delivered by the Hon Andrew Robb AO on 2nd July 2018 in Melbourne, demonstrating where our Association audience is reaching to these days. Unfortunately, Lilliane was an apology due to a clash with events.

Whilst Lilliane could not attend the lecture, she was busy (as Mayor of Cobar hosting the President of LGNSW, Cr Linda Scott) Peter was representing the Association at the Australian Mining Industry Annual lecture delivered by the Hon Andrew Robb AO. Details of the former Federal Minister’s lecture is on www.minerals.org.au/ search for Andrew Lobb Lecture 2nd July 2018, it is very interesting, his lecture is on “Global Forces are Shaping Australian Mining” referring to growth of China and India and their demand for resources from Australia. The Chair has made new contacts for the Association and learnt a lot about silica mining in Tasmania and cleaning up brown coal using a bi product of water and methane….. more stories when you catch up with him!

 

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 about how Councils can manage wind energy developments more effectively with some excellent Council examples, with the focus on wind farming and renewable energy generally. The workshop at Cobat has set the bar high!

Invitations will be sent to Yass Valley Council, Goulburn Mulwaree Regional Council, Oberon Shire Council, Cowra Shire Council, Hilltops Regional Council, Snowy River Regional Council, Glen Innes Shire Council, Inverell Shire Council, Queanbeyan City Councils etc., with operational, under construction or proposed wind farms in NSW as outlined on the Dept Planning website.

Yass Valley Council recently held their own in house workshop on the “for and against” arguments of wind farms so Councillors and the community can be better informed when they are required to determine any wind farm developments and manage existing developments.  Director Planning Services, Yass Shire Council, Chris Barry has been invited to present to our workshop, awaiting a response.

Mike Young (DPE Director Resource & Energy Assessments), who presented to the Cobar workshop and meeting is interested in attending in view of his senior role in the DPE and in assessing dvelopments such as wind farms.

We will be pursuing the Clean Energy Council, Clean Energy Regulator, National Wind Alliance and Wind Farm Comissioner to attend and participate which will give the workshop a more in depth perspective.To top it off, hopefully the Deputy Premier and Leader of the National Party, Hon John Barilaro can be enticed to attend and participate, as the member for Monaro, a bit further south of Crookwell.

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.

The General Manager of Upper Lachlan Shire Council, John Bell, is on leave until end of August and it so happens that the Acting General Manager is Gary Woodman, ex Cobar, Shire General Manager, Warren Shire and Singleton Council senior staff member who is familiar with what the Association does in view of his former roles.

 

Next MERC meetings in Sydney 9/10th August 2018

The Executive Committee will meet at 2.00pm in the McKell Room, NSW Parliament House, on 9th August 2018. The Ordinary meeting will be held the next day on 10th August 2018 in the Preston Stanley Meeting Room, NSW Parliament House to commence from 9.00am and finish at 1.00pm with lunch. It is near the Strangers Dining Room, delegates will have to be screened to get in, so allow time to do so.

Attendances have been very good to date, no quorum risks, since we have started having our Sydney meetings held at NSW Parliament House and informative regional meetings with a workshop in the afternoon and a networking dinner that night before the Ordinary General Meeting next day.

If you are attending the meetings on 9th (Executive Committee) and 10th August 2018 (Ordinary General) in Sydney at NSW Parliament House meeting can you advise the Executive Officer by email to info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au as soon as possible for numbers and catering.

 

Speakers for the Meeting in NSW Parliament House 10th August 2018

Speakers confirmed for the meeting on 10th August 2018 on Resources for Regions are:

  • Phil Donato, Member for Orange (Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party);
  • Michael Johnsen, Member for Upper Hunter (National Party) and Gary Barnes, Deputy Secretary Premier & Cabinet’s Department (representing Deputy Premier, Hon John Barilaro);
  • Hon Adam Searle MLC, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Shadow Minister for Industry, Resources & Energy and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations;
  • Andrew Keon, Chief Compliance Officer, Resources Regulator

The Greens have been contacted and have advised that Jeremy Buckingham is the nominated spokesperson for them on mining & energy related issues, awaiting confirmation of attendance. If they all turn up it should be a very interesting session especially with the impending State Elections in March 2019!

 

Update on the Joint Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

A copy of the draft report from Chris Wilson was forwarded to delegates before the meetings on 10/11th May 2018 and following a briefing from the working party and discussions with delegates at the Ordinary meeting on 11th May, it was resolved that the concerns raised be put into a submission to Chris Wilson prior to him submitting the report to the DPE. This was done and Chris Wilson has forwarded the report to DPE on 30th June 2018 with our comments therein.

We are waiting on a copy of the report for further consideration by the working party. The Executive Officer has been speaking with Stephen Barry at DPE to get a copy of the report and to set a date to have a meeting with NSW Minerals Council CEO and their new Director Policy; the DPE and our VPA working party members, as soon as possible. The aim of the forum is to go over the areas not in agreement and determine a path forward to get agreement, so the Guidelines can be finalised by our Annual General Meeting in November 2018.

 

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions (R4R)

At the Ordinary General meeting held in Cobar on 11th May 2018, the Association resolved to invite leaders of the State Government, Opposition, Greens and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Parties to talk to delegates about concerns we have with the current Resources for Regions criteria ie cost benefit analysis, co – contribution and original intention of returning funds to the mining affected areas from where the royalties were raised, for infrastructure developments, etc. There has been a good response as outlined in the speakers for next meeting section of this newsletter.

The Executive Officer has been advised by Chris Hanger, NSW Infrastructure, on the changes the government is considering to make to the criteria for Resources for Regions easier to meet by Councils by decreasing the co contribution funding to 25% and including a hardship case provision, if this 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! Rest of the Guidelines to be the same such as the Cost Benefit Ratio.

Short listed applicants were promised in March 2018 that the last round of the Resources for Regions Grants would be released by end of May 2018, the process started mid last year….

 

Website

The Executive Officer has been in discussion with CIBIS on the format for the new website  after going through the contents with the Executive Committee on 10th May 2018. These are – a Log in provision for members, more photos of mining and energy activities, condensing the number of pages, captions on photos, new logo and colours, format, etc. The brief has been provided to the web page designer to complete, waiting on the draft.

 

Regional Advisory Forum (RAF)

MERC delegate, Cr Owen Hasler attended the RAF meeting on 21st June 2018 and will provide an informed summary at our Ordinary meeting in August. In the meantime, he has requested that since the Voluntary Land Acquisition for Mining Projects from Adjoining Owners (VLAMP) Guidelines developed by the DPE have been implemented this year, if any Councils have had non compliance issues or where compliance is seen to be less than expected or not reflective of the VLAMP Guidelines they should raise them with the DPE. The contact persons are Dr Oliver Holmes, Director Compliance and Marcus Rae, Director Planning as they are looking for specific examples where this has been happening.

 

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 Acting 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 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 Festivel goers want to book in beforehand. I recommend delegates book early. All accomodation 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 accomodation is required out of town: –

https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/goulburn-area/crookwell/accommodation.

 

Speakers at future meetings

The Hon Rick Colless, MLC, is the sponsor for MERC to have meetings at NSW Parliament House, plus he has also indicated if any members need any assistance in getting to the members of parliament for a meeting to contact his office for his assistance.

The Executive Officer has been informed that Minister Barilaro is unavailable for 9/10th August 2018 due to electorate committments but has indicated Gary Barnes, Deputy Secretary, Premier and Cabinet’s Department and Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen will represent him to talk about Resources for Regions criteria.

The Labor party (Adam Searle), Greens (Jeremy Buckingham) and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers parties (Phil Donato) have been approached to attend future meetings, results outlined earlier in the newsletter, as will the Clean Energy Council (Anna Freeman), Clean Energy Regulator, National Wind Alliance and Wind Farm Commissioner (Andrew Dyer) will be approached for the November workshop and meeting.

 

Membership Campaign

The Executive Officer has been informed formally that Warren and Walgett Shire Councils have resolved to join the Association and Balranald have indicated they would verbally but are yet to formalise it. Gilgandra have advised “Council resolved to decline the invitation to join at this stage on the basis that there is no solar farm in the Gilgandra Shire Council area with a voluntary planning agreement. Membership will be reconsidered if a formal solar project application occurs in the future.(In other words they are not sure about the project)

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 neighboring areas.

 

Australian Mining Cities Alliance

The meeting at Cobar on 11th May 2018 provided the opportunity for the Mayor of Broken Hill City Council, Cr Darriea Turley to explain the background to the formation of the alliance and its objectives as a Federal body and its objectives.

The Alliance had a stand at the recent Australian Local Government conference and Chair Peter spoke to the person manning the stand about the Alliance but  was obviously a stand in as he didn’t seem to know a lot about them. The fee structure is interesting if MERC wanted to join “as a not for profit organisation with a strong stake in the relevance of mining in Australia’s mining cities”, it will cost a one off $10,000 fee plus $7000 pa. The Association has resolved that further details be obtained & a report submitted to delegates at next meeting in August by the Executive Officer. Details have now been received to do this.

 

Research Fellowship Update

The Executive Officer has had discussions with representatives of the University Technology Sydney on how they could be involved in an arrangement with MERC via an MOU to prepare papers on specific mining and energy related topics that are outlined in the Strategic Plan, as a research partner in lieu of a research fellowship arrangement. Trying to get them to meet with Executive Committee on 8th August 2018.

 

Project Working Party

Jason Linnane, General Manager Singleton Council has agreed to Chair the working party consisting of the Executive Officer, planning staff that regularly attend MERC meetings in Ron Zwicker, Heather Nicholls, David Henry and Andrew Johns. They 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. This initiative is a resource sharing one in itself! Thank you all.

 

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press (copied)

“Federal Government Inquiry into how the mining sector can support businesses in regional economies” (Barnaby Joyce to Chair see below).

On Wednesday, 27 June 2018, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator the Hon Matthew Canavan, asked the Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources to inquire into and report on how the mining sector can support businesses in regional economies. The Committee invites interested persons and organizations to make submissions addressing the terms of reference. Please contact the secretariat if you require an extension. Online submissions can be made on this page. For information on how to make a submission, go to our  Making a submission to a Committee Inquiry page. Submissions due 10 August.

Terms of Reference: The committee will inquire into how the development of the mining sector can support businesses in regional economies. The inquiry will consider questions including:-the appropriateness of the payment terms offered to businesses by the mining sector; best practices between the mining sector and businesses, especially in regards to how they can support regional communities and economies; barriers to the greater use of regional businesses in the procurement of services by the mining sector; building the skills and expertise of businesses to leverage opportunities in the mining sector; opportunities for businesses to diversify to other markets; including the mining industry in Australia and overseas, and across different industries; the role of mining equipment, technology and services (METS) organisations in R&D and innovation and how payment terms impact on companies’ ability to invest in these areas; how the Federal Government can support businesses in regional economies benefit from mining development;  how royalties are shared between landholders on gas fields and State and Territory Governments; and  any other related matter. When undertaking this Inquiry the Committee should have regard to:-how relationships between mining and businesses differ between jurisdictions and in overseas countries; and the policies of State and Territory Governments in regards to mining procurement.

Barnaby Joyce chairs regional mining committee” Jamieson Murphy writes on 3rd July the following article in the Northern Daily Leader:

https://www.nohttps://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/5500699/barnaby-joyce-to-chair-govts-regional-mining-committee/?src=rssrtherndailyleader.com.au/story/5500699/barnaby-joyce-to-chair-govts-regional-mining-committee/?src=rss

Comment form Executive Officer: This is a Federal Government Inquiry into how the mining sector can support businesses in regional economies. The Association will prepare a submission on behalf of the regional communities in NSW and will undertake enquiries if it is able to attend the inquiry in person. If any delegate has any thoughts on content, data sources or case studies to assist, can they provide them to the Executive Officer by email as soon as possible.

“Energy Innovation Mining Expo” The Gunnedah Show Society is having its inaugural Energy, Innovation & Mining Expo on 1 – 3 November 2018 where there will be a range of exhibitors and speakers from the energy & mining industry sector with the emphasis on innovation. Enquiries to MERC delegate Cr Rob Hookes, Gunnedah Shire Council.

“ASIC recommends voluntary disclosure of climate risks” In the Financial Review 19th June 2018, Misa Han wrote:” The corporate regulator has encouraged companies to go beyond meeting strict legal requirements and voluntarily disclose climate change risks and opportunities to the market. Australian Securities and Investments Commission commissioner John Price told a Centre for Policy Development forum on Monday night that in addition to the strict legal requirements, companies should also “carefully consider the general information needs of investors” when it comes to disclosing climate risks. The financial stability board’s Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) issued voluntary recommendations in 2015 to help companies with how to disclose climate change-related risks and opportunities, and what type of information to disclose. A number of ASX-listed companies have already announced an intention to report under the framework. Mr Price said some boards may be reluctant to fully adopt TCFD reporting to the market, particularly the scenario analysis component. As part of TCFD reporting, companies can use “scenario analysis” – a set of hypothetical scenarios that cover a reasonable variety of future outcomes. But Mr Price said the law or ASIC’s policy generally would not impede a company from undertaking scenario analysis. “Likewise, we do not think that director liability should be a major impediment to reporting under TCFD recommendations provided that the modelling adopts reasonable assumptions and inputs and discloses them in full,” he said. The speech comes after the prudential regulator’s “landmark” speech warning Australian financial institutions for the first time about the risks of climate change in February 2017. Refer www. financialreview.com.au

 

Contact

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 peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                     Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC Newsletter – May 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the May 2018 Newsletter under the new name of the “Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” as approved by the Department of Fair Trading with the acronym of MERC and new logo.

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.

Solar Farming & Energy Workshop 10th May 2018 held in Cobar

The Solar Farming workshop on Thursday 10th May 2018 IN Cobar Services Club, commenced at 1.00pm with a variety of speakers from Councils, Government and a solar product sales business speaking about how Councils can reduce energy costs and with some excellent Council examples, to balance the debate.

Also in attendance were some of the Councils from the western region that had recently been announced by the State Government as having solar farm development approvals i.e. the Mayor Balranald Shire Council, Cr Leigh Byron and General Manager Mike Kitzlemann; the Mayor Walgett Shire Council, Cr Ian Woodcock and General Manager Don Ramsland; Mayor Gilgandra Shire Council, Cr Doug Batten and Manager Economic Development, Randall Medd; Warren Shire Council, Cr Kaylene Irving and General Manager Glenn Wilcox; Liza Schipp formerly of Mid Coast Council as Director Planning & Natural Resources.

The topics and speakers were a good mix and the workshop went accordingly as follows:

  • Council Experience with Solar Farming & Energy Developments – Glenn Wilcox (Warren Shire Council and Life Member of Association);
  • Impact on Council Infrastructure from Solar and Wind Farming Projects – Michael McMahon/Chris Devitt (Dubbo Regional Council);
  • The Nevertire Solar Farm Project at Bogan Shire Council, turning the development into a Tourist attraction, a Mayor’s perspective – (Mayor, Bogan Shire Council, Nyngan, story was relayed by the Executive Officer when Ray was a last minute withdrawal);
  • Jason Robertson and Rob Ehsman, See Solar – How Councils can use solar energy for their own facilities/public safety at reduced costs versus traditional street lighting charges;
  • Renewable Energy developments in Western NSW – Ashley Albury (Department of Premier and Cabinet, Regional Director Western NSW);
  • A Department of Planning perspective about Solar Energy developments in NSW – Mike Young, (Director Resource & Energy Assessments, DPE)
  • NSW Government Energy Initiatives, etc. Hon Rick Colless (MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and Western NSW and the Chair of the Western Mining Development Taskforce).

Over 40 delegates and speakers were in attendance at this extremely informative and interactive inaugural workshop held by the Association.  Presentations have been forwarded.

The media were well represented by Sharon Harland from The Cobar Weekly and the well known and extremely popular Sally Bryant, ABC presenter on rural issues, was in attendance who later spoke to the Chair and delegates with the interview broadcast throughout NSW on the ABC the following week. Sharon Harland from The Cobar Weekly wrote the following story, which appeared in the local paper on 16th May 2018:

“Council delegates hear a balanced debate on solar farming.

Cobar hosted the quarterly meeting of the Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils last week, which also included a workshop on Solar Farming.

The association advocates for members and their communities on mining and energy related issues to ensure activities are conducted in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.

The association’s chair Peter Shinton (Mayor of Warrumbungle Shire Council) told The Cobar Weekly the purpose of the conference was to introduce delegates to the wider field of renewable energy sources.

“We invited Councils who are embracing wind farms and solar farms and we also invited people who knew something about them. They are coming into our areas thick and fast and it’s about time we knew something about them and who to talk to,” Mr Shinton said.

Workshop speakers included representatives from Councils who had experience with solar farming and energy developments, government bodies (the Department of Planning and NSW Government Energy Initiatives) and also solar sales representatives who gave information about how Councils can reduce energy costs.

Mr Shinton said the variety of speakers at the workshop helped to balance the debate.

“You could tell by the questions asked during the workshop and some of the answers they got back, that people were really happy with the way it was organised.”

The meeting also gave members an update on the Joint Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) working party.

“It enabled us to understand the VPA pro-cesses that we are working on, and to get our template together with the Minerals Council so it can be rolled on to things like wind farms,” Mr Shinton explained.

He said currently solar farms don’t pay any VPA contributions.

“We all thought well, they don’t really upset the town for the short three of four months they are here.”

He said members were however re-thinking that after one speaker recounted their experience in a small town when 300 solar workers came in, saying the town was left short of water and the development had a large effect”

Networking Dinner on 10th May at Cobar Golf Club

Following the very sucessful workshop, over 50 delegates and partners attended the dinner in Ma’s Chinese restaurant, to talk about the presentations earlier in the day, to catch up with colleagues, and to discuss the new direction the Association is taking by including renewable energy with mining, as the way forward for securing sustainable energy, as a strong advocate for our communities affected by mining and energy related developments.

Chair Peter welcomed delegates, presenters & observers from Balranald, Warren, Gilgandra and Walgett Shire Councils and congratulated them on their presentations, participation in the workshop and attendance at our meetings and workshop. It was also good to see Hon Rick Colless and wife Geraldine, Ashley Albury (DPC) and Mike Young (DPE) attend & mingle with delegates and partners. It’s a good way to get your message across to a politician an/or senior departmental officer, the company and food wasn’t too bad either!!!

Ordinary General Meeting held on 11th May 2018

“The best attendance we have ever had at our meetings and most informative and interactive, in the last seven years or so since I have been a delegate”, one attendee said after the meeting on 11th May 2018. Three of the speakers from the day before presented new topics to discuss with delegates at the Ordinary General meeting, on the following:

  • Hon Rick Colless, MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and Western NSW and Chair Western Mining Development Taskforce on the recent activities and direction of the Taskforce;
  • Ashley Albury, Regional Director Western NSW, Department Premier & Cabinet on Western NSW Renewable Energy Developments; and
  • Mike Young, Director Resource & Energy Assessments, Department Planning on “Preliminary Regional Issues Assessment Bancannia & Pondle Ranges Troughs, Far Western NSW” (Based on NSW Government’s Strategic Release Framework for Coal and Petroleum at Work)

Mike was particularly handy on DPE matters of interest.The meeting also extended to addressing the concerns about Resources for Regions criteria; a Marketing Plan adopted for growing the membership; Resources Advisory Forum issues; Alliance of Mining Cities Australia (AMCA); Research Fellowship; Coal Seam Gas Policy review; Panel of Consultants review and  and Voluntary Planning Agreement Joint Working Party progress report from Chris Wilson, etc –  most of these are dealt with later on in the Newsletter.

Mine Tour – 11th May Friday afternoon

A tour of the underground Peak Gold mine at Cobar by a dozen or so hardy delegates staying over for the weekend to take in sights and the Cobar races on the Saturday, took place on Friday afternoon. The mine tour was very informative, fun and a great experience for those who attended. Having to “suit up” with mining hi – vis PPE gear from top to toe was a new experience for some delegates and the gear helped address the chilly conditions. The Hon Rick Colless and wife Geraldine joined the tour and thorughly enjoyed themselves and the cameraderie. Cobar Golf Club provided the bus, organised by the Shire Council, thank you Lilliane, Peter and Janette for organising the tour and the morning tea for partners.

Next MERC meetings in Sydney 9/10th August 2018

The Executive Committee will meet at 2.00pm in the McKell Room, NSW Parliament House, on 9th August 2018. The Ordinary meeting will be held the next day on 10th August 2018 in the Preston Stanley Meeting Room, NSW Parliament House to commence from 9.00am and finish at 1.00pm with lunch.

Attendances have been very good to date, no quorum risks, since we have started having our Sydney meetings held at NSW Parliament House and informative regional meetings with a workshop in the afternoon and a networking dinner that night before the Ordinary General Meeting next day. A big thank you to you all that have made the effort, particularly to go to Cobar in the far west, it was a very succesful few days. Just make sure you help with apologies and numbers to attend for catering puproses when called for by the Executive Officer for future meetings to keep costs down.

Update on the Joint Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

A copy of the draft report from Chris Wilson was forwarded to delegates before the meetings on 10/11th May 2018 and following a briefing from the working party and discussions with delgates at the Ordinary meeting on 11th May, it was resolved that the concerns raised be put into a submission, as soon as possible, prepared by the working party to Chris Wilson prior to him submittimg the report to the DPE.

The concerns related to the following :- the need to include a cents per production non infrastructure contributions methodology; a recognition that each Council can negotiate their own contribution models; the provision of the proponent funding a “cumulative effects” study several years after the mine has commenced; the inclusion of a trigger for a VPA to be negotiated when the mine is sold; final agreement on the details in the timeline and framework for the VPA negotiations; the issue of nexus versus indirect social economic and environmental impacts; and when and how IPART is to be involved.

It was also agreed that it be included in the report that the DPE establish a steering committee consisting of NSW Minerals Council and the Association working party representatives, initiated and facilitated by the DPE, to achieve agreement on the outstanding issues, in order that the negotiations be finalised as soon as possible.

The submission was prepared by the working party and agreed to by the Executive Committee. It was forwarded to Chris Wilson on 28th May 2018 by the Executive Officer requesting a face to face meeting with the author and members of the working party from MERC to ensure clarity on the issues. The working party members are (Executive Officer, Cr Owen Hasler, Steve Loane and Cr Sue Moore appointed by the Executive Committee)

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions (R4R)

The Executive Officer attended a meeting in Sydney on 3rd May 2018 with the Deputy Premier, Hon John Barilaro; Member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen; with the Mayors/General Managers of Singleton Council (Cr Sue Moore & Jason Linnane) and Cessnock City Council, (Cr Bob Pynsent & Steve Glen) representing Hunter Joint Organisation of Councils, to discuss the current Resources for Regions funding criteria.

The Association resolved that this meeting be held for the Chair and Executive Officer to attend and it was bundled with the Hunter Councils (who are members of MERC) by the office of the Deputy Premier. This was fortuitous as the Hunter Councils invited Steve Galilee from NSW Minerals Council to attend as well and so the Deputy Premier and his Senior advisor Gary Barnes (Deputy Secretary, Premier & Cabinet’s Department) were able to get a clear picture of our concerns with the co – contribution requirement, quantum, the Cost Benefit Analysis Ratio & initial intention of the funding for mining affected Council’s, etc.

The meeting was very positive and the Deputy Premier gave a commitment that he would review the current conditions before the next round commences, taking on board what was raised by the delegation and will look at the issues immediately and get back to the delegation as soon as possible. The current round of approved projects for Resources for Regions will be announced soon, he indicated. Since then, at the Ordinary General meeting, the Association has resolved the following:

  • the Association invite to the next Executive Committee and/or Ordinary Meeting for discussions on concerns about the current Resources for Regions criteria (i.e. cost benefit analysis, co – contribution and original intention of returning funds to the mining affected areas from where the royalties were raised, for infrastructure developments, etc) the NSW State Coalition Government, Labor, Greens and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers parties.
  • The Association write to Gary Barnes, Deputy Secretary, Department Premier and Cabinet seeking confirmation of the commitment to review the current Resources for Regions criteria given by the Hon John Barilaro, Deputy Premier, at the meeting on 3rd May 2018 held with the Association, Hunter Councils Joint Organisations of Council and’ the NSW Minerals Council before the next round of applications is called.

Since then, the Executive Officer has been contacted by Chris Hanger, NSW Infrastructure, on the changes the government is considering to make to the criteria for Resources for Regions easier to meet by Councils by decreasing the co contribution funding to 25% and including a hardship case provision, if this 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! Rest of the Guidelines to be the same such as the Cost Benefit Ratio.

He sad “the government have a lot of money to allocate”. No doubt being an election lead up year, they want more Councils to receive funds for infrstructure in mining affected areas. They will be holding webinars/workshops on what they propose before the next round is announced. In the meantime, he said the current round will be announced in a few weeks!!!!

Website

The Executive Officer has been in discussion with CIBIS on the format for the new website  after going through the contents with the Executive Committee on 10th May 2018. A Log in provision for members, more photos of mining and energy activities, condensing the number of pages, captions on photos, new logo and colours, etc. Watch this space……

Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020

The Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020 was adopted at the Special General Meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 with changes reflected in the minutes of the Special General Meeting 23rd February 2018, which have now been distributed to delegates. A copy of the Strategic Plan is on the website.

The Executive Officer has developed a report format (agreed to by the Executive Committee) which will be submitted to them quarterly and attached as part of the Ordinary meeting Executive Officer’s report with comments on progress with the actions therein. The same will be the case with any outstanding decisions of MERC, delegates to get the report.

Constitution Review

The amended Constitution has now been approved by the Department of Fair Trading and is posted on the web site. However there was one thing still to be finalised with the interpretation of “a minimum of two terms “ for Life Membership eligibility Clause 4.5 (is it two terms as a delegate of the Council for the term of the Council ie  two four year terms or two years as an annual appointment as the delegate of the Council for two terms?).

The Executive Committee determined at their 10th May 2018 meeting and agreed to by delegates that it be noted that the “two terms” in 4.5 Life Membership, in the constitution, refer to the nominee having been a Council delegate to the Association for a minimum period of two terms of four or three years (if amalgamated), not two annual appointments.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – November

We will have another round of regional meetings and a workshop in the Upper Lachlan Shire in November when its warmer!!! The Executive Officer has been discussing arrangements with the Acting General Manager for November and the Council is keen to be involved as it has the most number of wind farms in its Shire in Australia. Their Tourism and Promotions Manager is to contact the Executive Officer shortly to start the organisation of the occasion.

Speakers at future meetings

The Hon Rick Colless, MLC, who has been mentioned throughout this Newsletter, in view of his recent assistance and attendance at our meetings and workshop in Cobar, is the sponsor for MERC to have meetings at NSW Parlaiment House, plus he has also indicated if any members need any assistance in getting to the members of parliament for a meeting to contact his office for his assistance. In view of this gesture, we should have no problems getting speakers in due course from the Coalition parties.

The Executive Officer has been informed that Minister Barilaro is unavailable for 9/10th August 2018 due to electorate commitments but has indicated Gary Barnes, Deputy Secretary, Premier and Cabinet’s Department and Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen will represent him to talk about Resources for Regions criteria. This meeting was organised outside of the offer from Hon Rick Colless through Barilaro’s office.

The Labor party (Luke Foley/Adam Searle), Greens (Jeremy Buckingham/Adam Shoebridge) and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers parties (Phil Donato) will also be approached to attend future meetings as will the Clean Energy Council (Anna Freeman), Clean Energy Regulator, National Wind Alliance and Wind Farm Commissioner (Andrew Dyer) will be approached.

Membership Campaign

Wow, since the May meeting the Executive Officer has been informed that Warren and Walgett Shire Councils have resolved to join the Association and Balranald have indicated they would but are yet to resolve to do so. This will make the membership 23 again. Well done to all involved in promoting our Association.

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 Executive Committee 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.

Australian Mining Cities Alliance

The meeting at Cobar on 11th May 2018 provided the opportunity for the Mayor of Broken Hill City Council, Cr Darriea Turley to explain the background to the formation of the alliance and its objectives as a Federal body. They will have a stand at the ALGA Conference in Canberra later this month for those interested in more details. The Executive Officer is awaiting a detailed outline from the Acting CEO, Craig Wilson, on their objectives and arrangements for the three tiers of membership. The Association has resolved that further details be obtained & report submitted to delegates at next meeting in August when to hand.

Research Fellowship Update

Awaiting submission from University Technology Sydney for how they could be involved in an arangement with MERC via an MOU to prepare papers on specific mining and energy related topics outlined in the Strategic Plan, as a research partner in lieu of a research fellowship arrangement. They are keen to address delegates at a future meeting.

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press (copied)

“Jobs a breeze for wind farm commissioner” Nicole Hasham, Sydney Morning Herald, 1st June 2018 The Commissioner’s role was established in 2015 to monitor the wind industry and respond to community complaints about turbine noise and health effects. The article says some people believe the low frequency sound of wind turbines causes health issues for nearby residents. However, the Australian Medical Association and the National Health & Medical Research Council say such claims have not been conclusively proven. He had 163 complaints relating to noise, potentioal health impacts, amenity, lack of community consultation, economic loss and flickering shadows fom wind turbines. 145 were resolved, 52 were closed as they were not pursued by the complainant. 84 were resolved by providing information. The Climate Change Authority are saying the role should be extended to address concerns aboyt solar projects. Refer www.smh.com.au

‘Adani to pay for Isaac Council staff working on Carmichael mine activities” ABC website 28th May 2018. Adani is to bankroll the Council staff to deal with the extraordinary workload created by the Cramichael mine project to the extent of $1.15m in wages, housing and vehicle costs for 4 employees to assess the project- an executive and legal support officer, a senior engineering manager and two field officers. This is supported by  LGA Qld siad the deal was lawful and above board. Anti corruption think tank Transparency International Australia think otherwise. Same deal occurred in Gladstone’s 3 LNG Plants project for several Councils a few years ago. Recent negotiations for a VPA with  a proponent near Fifield, NSW, Forbes, Lachlan and Parkes Shire Councils will receive a “Project Facilitation Contribution” of $30k pa to be used for management and administrative costs if needed during the 2-3 year construction phase. Refer www.abc.org.au

‘AGL plans pumped hydro after Liddell” Cole Latimer and Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald 26-27Th May 2018 “AGL is working wth Japanese company Idemitsu to transform a Hunter Valley coal mine into a pumped hydro storage power plant to replace energy lost when AGL closes the Liddell power station in 2022. Issues AGL could face in turning a coal mine into pumped hydro storage are that it is not deep enough to have significant water flowing and coal dust in the water. Refer www.smh.com.au

Contact

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 peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedCouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                      Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC Newsletter – April 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the April 2018 Newsletter under the new name of the “Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” as approved by the Department of Fair Trading with the acronym of MERC.

Our new logo (Option B with amendments to the wording so it reads “Mining and Energy” in large letters to emphasise our focus on Mining & Energy and underneath it has “Related Councils NSW” next to the green symbol on the left) was also agreed to after much debate by delegates.The logo will soon be on our website and correspondence, when to hand.

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.

Next Meetings in Cobar 10/11th May 2018

The Executive Committee will meet at 9.00am in the Cobar RSL on 10TH May. The Workshop on Solar Farming commences at 1.00pm in the Auditorium at the Cobar RSL Club on 10th May 2018. The Ordinary meeting will be held the next day on 11th May 2018 in the Cobar RSL Club Auditorium to commence from 9.00am and finish at 1.00pm with lunch.

The Solar Farming workshop on Thursday 10th May 2018 will commence at 1.00pm with a variety of speakers from Councils, Government and even have a solar sales business speaking about how Councils can reduce energy costs and with some excellent Council examples, to balance the debate.

A list ot speakers is as follows:

  • Introduction of Speakers and Purpose of Workshop – Greg Lamont (Executive Officer MERC);
  • Council Experience with Solar Farming & Energy Developments – Glenn Wilcox (Warren Shire Council and Life Member of Association);
  • Impact on Council Infrastructure from Solar and Wind Farming Projects – Michael McMahon/Chris Devitt (Dubbo Regional Council);
  • The Nevertire Solar Farm Project at Bogan Shire Council, turning the development into a Tourist attraction, a Mayor’s perspective – Clr Ray Donald (Mayor, Bogan Shire Council, Nyngan);
  • Jason Robertson, See Solar – How Councils can use solar energy for their own facilities/public safety at reduced costs versus traditional street lighting charges;
  • Renewable Energy developments in Western NSW – Ashley Albury (Department of Premier and Cabinet, Regional Director Western NSW);
  • A Department of Planning perspective about Solar Energy developments in NSW – Mike Young, (Director Resource & Energy Assessments, DPE)
  • NSW Government Energy Initiatives, etc. Hon Rick Colless (MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and Western NSW and Chair Western Mining Development Taskforce).

Mayor/Councillors and General Managers of Balranald, Warren, Gilgandra and Walgett Shires have accepted invitations to attend the workshop, network dinner on 10th May 2018 and Ordinary meeting next day on 11th May 2018.

This is what MERC set out to achieve by inviting those Councils on Minister Roberts’ recent media release on solar developments in the Western Area that were not members of MERC but may potentially become a member. Some Councils did not respond, we will do the same for the wind farming workshop in November.

Attendance at Next meetings and Workshop 10/11th May 2018

Attendances have been excellent for the 10/11th May events, with only three Councils not being able to attend due to pre set budget sessions. We have 45 for the workshop, 40 for the network dinner and similar for the Ordinary meeting on the 11th May 2018, a fantastic effort by all involved.In the afternoon after the meeting we have close to a dozen for the mine tour and races next day.

 Update on the Joint Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

A meeting was held in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 after the Ordinary meeting with Chris Wilson, consultant appointed by the DPE (agreed to by the NSW Minerals Council and MERC to the VPA Joint Working Party). In attendance were consultant Warwick Giblin and our delegates, Clr Owen Hasler and Steve Loane to update Chris on progress with the Joint VPAWP for his report to the DPE which was due by mid April 2018. A copy of the draft report has been circulated to delegates and the MERC working party will brief the Executive Committee on the report for a recommendation to delegates to consider. Warwick has reviewed the report and forwarded comments to the working party.

The DPE are keen to capture the information agreed by the respective parties and include it in the Guidelines on VPA’S as a Practice Note or similar, but needed to have an independent interview the parties and write the report for them to consider given the opposed arguments and political sensitivities.This is a very important document for MERC to review and agree on our position to ensure Councils are not disadvantaged with the options.

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions (R4R)

The Executive Officer attended a meeting in Sydney on 3rd May 2018 with the Deputy Premier, Hon John Barilaro; Member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen; with the Mayors/General Managers of Singleton Council (Cr Sue Moore & Jason Linnane) and Cessnock City Council, (Cr Bob Pynsent & Steve Glen) representing Hunter Joint Organisation of Councils, to discuss the current Resources for Regions funding criteria.

The Association resolved that this meeting be held for the Chair and Executive Officer to attend and it was bundled with the Hunter Councils (who are members of MERC) by the office of the Deputy Premier. This was fortuitous as the Hunter Councils invited Steve Galilee from NSW Minerals Council to attend as well and so the Deputy Premier and his Senior advisor Gary Barnes (Premier & Cabinet’s Department) were able to get a clear picture of our concerns with the co – contribution requirement, quantum, the BCR and initial intention of the funding for mining affected Council’s, etc.

The meeting was very positive and the Deputy Premier gave a committment that he would review the current conditions before the next round commences, taking on board what was raised by the delegation and will look at the issues immediately and get back to the delegation as soon as possible. The current round of approved projects for Resources for Regions will be announced soon, he indicated.

Website

The Executive Officer has been in discussion with CIBIS on the format for the new website  and will be presenting the draft format to Executive Committee to consider with the aim to have it finalised by the May meetings in Cobar. A draft of the proposed changes has been distributed to members of the Executive Committee to consider before their meeting on 10th May 2018.

Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020

The Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020 was adopted at the Special General Meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 with changes reflected in the minutes of the Special General Meeting 23rd February 2018, which have now been distributed to delegates. A copy of the Strategic Plan is on the website.

The Executive Officer has developed a report format (agreed to by the Executive Committee) which will be submitted to them quarterly as part of the Ordinary meeting Executive Officer’s report with comments on progress with the actions therein.

Constitution Review

The amended Constitution has now been approved by the Department of Fair Trading and is posted on the web site. However there is one thing still to be finalised whereby the Executive Committee will consider the interpretation of “a minimum of two terms “ for Life Membership eligibility Clause 4.5 (is it two terms as a delegate of the Council for the term of the Council ie  two four year terms or two years as an annual appointment as the delegate of the Council for two terms?), for discussion by the Executive Committee at their 10th May meeting and recommendation to delegates.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – August and November

Arrangements have been made to have the August Executive Committee and Ordinary General Meeting in Sydney at Parliament House again on 9/10th August 2018. We will have another regional meeting in the Upper Lachlan Shire in November when its warmer!

The Executive will decide on the date for the November 2018 meetings and workshop in consultation with the Upper Lachlan Council at Crookwell or a larger Council in the region for the wind farming developments workshops and membership drive. The Upper Lachlan Shire Council have been approached and details provided on what is required, awaiting confrimation of participation.

Membership Campaign

Warren Shire Council could not attend our Sydney meeting but have resolved to send a Councillor and General Manager (Glenn Wilcox, Life Member of the Association) to our next meeting in Cobar as observers and then to report back to their Council on whether to join the Association or not. They have a very large solar farm development proposed for construction at Nevertire on Mitchell Highway, near Warren and are interested in being part of our voice.

The observer from Mid Coast Council, (M/s Lisa Schiff, Director Planning and Natural Resources) that attended our meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 has reported that Mid Coast Council has resolved to become being a member of the Association, in view of coal mining development expansion in the Gloucester area which is now part of Mid Coast Council and the strategic direction of MERC. Hopefully the Solar Farm workshop and meetings at Cobar 10/11th May 2018 result in Balranald, Warren, Gilgandra and Walgett all joining the Association.

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 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 Executive Committee at its May meeting is to consider the adoption of a Marketing Policy to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW. A Draft Membership Marketing Policy has been prepared for the Executive Committee to consider on 10th May 2018 in order to formalise and stregthen the membership campaign.

Southern NSW and New England areas will be targeted, like we have with Orana and Upper Lachlan Council areas.

 Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press (copied)

“Solar run drinking water trialled” Cole Latimer in the SMH 30TH April 2018 talks about a solar powered device that creates clean drinking water from the air is being trialled in Australia. The water produced has been tested to Australian drinking water contaminant guidelines. The portable Source Hydropanels, created by Zero Mass Water, are designed to suck moisture from the air, dehumidifying it to drain the water out before it purifies and adds minerals to the water. It is powered solely by attached solar arrays. Depending on the climate the panels can create up to 5 litres of potable water a day.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing about $420k in funding to help deploy 150 of the solar powered drinking water systems across Australia, in order to trial its ability to act as a source of water for drought stricken regions as well as reducing waste caused by plastic water bottles. Further details www.smh.com.au.  Plus the CEO of ARENA Ivor F if you follow them on their website contacts.

“Big Windfall from Wind” Jamieson Murphy in the Northern Daily Leader, 28th April 2018 writes about a recent report by the Australian Wind Alliance (AWA) which estimates $10.5 billion could be delivered to host communities accross the 25 year life span of the nations existing wind farms and wind farms under construction. AWA National Coordinator, Andrew Bray said “wind power was making a long lasting contribution to rural Australia’s socila fabric. They support small towns to do that important work, often through volunteers that’s keeps the town ticking along……….” The Sapphire Wind Farm near Inverell contributes $187k a year through its community enhancement fund and White Rock near Glen Innes $175k. Refer www.northerndailyleader.com.au

VPA Funded Road Between NSW Government and Dart West Almost Complete – Ministerial Media Release Department Planning, 10th April 2018

“Construction of the $45 million Gregory Hills Drive-Badgally Road link road is now complete thanks to a voluntary planning agreement between the NSW Government and Dart West. 

Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts, said this road provides a key link between the strategic centres of Camden and Campbelltown. 

“Now this link road is fully operational it ensures that residents and those driving to work have an easier journey around south-west Sydney,” Mr Roberts said. “A voluntary planning agreement between our government and Gregory Hills developers Dart West has enabled this key four-lane road to be constructed providing connectivity for the whole of the Macarthur area. 

“This road also gives residents direct access to Campbelltown and the railway station via Badgally Road.” Camden MP Chris Patterson said this is an example of how governments and developers can work effectively for the public good. “This planning agreement has guaranteed that the Macarthur community got this key link road to the Hume Highway and M5 faster,” Mr Patterson said.“Already we have seen traffic congestion reduced due to the 5km link road.” 

General Manager of Dart West Developments, David Taylor, said since the initial connection linking existing sections of Gregory Hills and Badgally Road was made in October last year residents have noted an improvement in traffic flows. “The opening of all four lanes of traffic will only just improve congestion in the road network,” Mr Taylor said. “Dart West is proud to have delivered this road and believe it will have a lasting legacy for Gregory Hills and the wider Camden and Campbelltown communities for many years to come.”

 Could the Winds of Change be blowing through the Sourthern Highlands?

I’m no expert, but I have passion and a vision. The passion is driven by my long held belief in chasing better ways to do things. The vision is to see the Highlands community support a renewable energy project that provides clean energy, creates local jobs, and produces good investment returns for Highlanders.

Can this be done? Simple answer – yes. How? We learn from other successful projects that are already up and running. It really is “join the dots” stuff. No need to reinvent the wheel. We simply stand on the shoulders of others. So who has already done this? 

A community group in Victoria – Hepburn Wind – that was established in 2007, and who have built two wind turbines of 4.1MW capacity (enough to power over 2,000 homes). 

The group is community owned, has become profitable in the last two years, has paid back more than $3.5mn in bank loans since 2011 (that were related to the project construction costs), and has contributed over $100,000 to community projects.  Hepburn Winds is a model for other communities with its strong focus on community engagement and regional economic benefits

A community group in Goulburn – Community Energy 4 Goulburn – established in 2014, is proposing to build a solar farm of 1.2MW capacity near Goulburn. This project has been confirmed by a feasibility study and is on the verge of seeking investment from the local community so they can start construction soon.

We can do this in the Southern Highlands. Many people have investigated the possibilities, but so far we have not been able to get a project going. 

On Friday, April 20 from 5.30pm, at a renewable energy forum at The Mill in Bowral, we will have the opportunity to hear from people who were integral to each of these projects, and who can help us understand how we too can realize our CORE (community renewable energy) values. 

Our guests from Hepburn Wind – Neville Oddie and Kate Redwood – will talk about how the group, which raised $9.8m to build the facility, was established as a model for other communities with its strong focus on community engagement, regional economic benefits, local jobs, community empowerment and capacity building.

The president of Community Energy 4 Goulburn venture, Ed Suttle will also be in attendance. CE4G, is a committee of eight members who have taken the proposal of a community solar powered farm from concept to imminent build. For more info see http://herd.org.au/events/

The event will be hosted by Highlands Entrepreneurs Regional Development (known as HERD), which is in the process of establishing the Southern Highlands based incubator and accelerator.

HERD will build on the pools of talent and experience that exist in the Southern Highlands and work to attract innovative businesses to the region. Their focus is to catalyse new and scalable businesses supported by a vital innovation ecosystem within the Southern Highlands.

They intend to do this through partnering with University of Wollongong’s iAccelerator program, along with The Mill to deliver a collaborative work environment and through the facilitation of access to funds and critical expertise for early stage businesses to foster and accelerate their growth. If you wish to partner with HERD or become involved please get in touch.  Phone: 041432164 or email: info@herd.org.au.

(Refer Journalist – Andrew Forbes Southern Highland News, 10th April 2018).

 GFG Alliance officially purchases Tahmoor Mine

In great news for Macarthur miners, GFG Alliance has today completed its acquisition of the Tahmoor coking coal mine previously owned by Glencore.

The mine is now officially under the ownership of GFG’s SIMEC Mining division following ministerial approval. The Tahmoor mine – which employs more than 300 people – produces about two million tonnes of coking coal each year. The coal is used for primary steel making in blast furnaces in Australia and across the globe. GFG executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said the mine was highly regarded in domestic and international markets for its grade and quality.

“I am delighted to welcome the Tahmoor mine employees and surrounding community into our GFG family,” he said “The acquisition of the Tahmoor mine is an exciting step forward in our strategy to create fully-integrated, end-to-end businesses in Australia, from raw material and energy right through to high-value finished products ready for market.

“Through this purchase, we secure and de-risk an important feed for the Whyalla Steelworks. This, together with our iron ore mines in South Australia, now makes GFG the only fully-integrated Australian steel producer, whether from iron ore and coking coal to primary steel, or from scrap metal and renewable energy to GREENSTEEL.”

(Refer Wollondilly Advertiser 20th April 2018). Thanks to Clr Michael Banasik for forwarding these articles, more welcome for delegates relating to your LGA’s. 

Contact

 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 peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservice.com.au or info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                     Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC NEWSLETTER – March 2018

 

Introduction

Delegates, here is the March 2018 Newsletter under the new name of the “Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” as approved by the Department of Fair Trading with the acronym of MERC.

Our new logo (Option B with amendments to the wording so it reads “Mining and Energy” in large letters to emphasise our focus on Mining & Energy and underneath it has “Related Councils NSW” next to the green symbol on the left) was also agreed to after much debate by delegates.The logo will be soon on our website and correspondence.

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.

Next Meetings in Cobar 10/11th May 2018

The Executive Committee will meet at 9.00am in the Cobar RSL on 10TH May. The Workshop on Solar Farming commences at 1.00pm in the Auditorium at the Cobar RSL Club on 10th May 2018. The Ordinary meeting will be held the next day on 11th May 2018 in the Cobar RSL Club Auditorium to commence from 9.00am and finish at 1.00pm with lunch.

The Solar Farming workshop on Thursday 10th May 2018 will commence at 1.00pm with a keynote speaker and representatives from Councils in the Orana region (members and non members) that have been through the Solar Farming development process to share the lessons learnt, to outline the pitfalls and best practices.

Invitations have been sent to senior government agency staff to participate and speak from the DPE and DPC plus local Federal and State members such as Mark Coulton, Rick Colless and Kevin Humphries. Mayor or Councillor and General Managers of Balranald, Warren and Walgett Shire have accepted invitations to attend the workshop, network dinner on 10th May 2018 and Ordinary meeting next day on 11th May 2018. This is what MERC set out to achieve by inviting those Councils on Minister Roberts’ recent media release on solar developments that were not members of MERC but may potentially become a member. Still waiting on Hay, Carrathool and Gilgandra Shire Councils to respond. Coulton is an apology.

To assist delegates with their accommodation, bookings will need to be made early as accommodation is at a premium, so Cobar Shire Council have provided the following details for the accommodation to assist. Note travel will be limited to driving or flying to Dubbo and hiring vehicles to drive to Cobar or arrange a private air charter to Cobar Airport. Options:-

Cobar Central Motor Inn

18 Murray Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6830 2000; Email: motelcobar@bigpond.com  Website: http://www.cobarcentralmotorinn.com.au/cobar-contact-us.html

Cobar Town and Country Motor Inn

52 Marshall Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 1244

Website: http://www.cobartownandcountry.com.au/CobarTownandCountry/index.html

Cobar Oasis Motel

76 Marshall Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 2844; Email: admin@cobaroasismotel.com.au Website: http://www.cobaroasismotel.com.au/

Copper City Motel

40 Lewis Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 2404;Email: coppercitymotel@bigpond.com Website: http://coppercitymotel.com.au/

Cobar Caravan Park

101 Marshall Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 2425; Email: info@cobarcaravanpark.com.au Website: http://www.cobarcaravanpark.com.au/

There is also accommodation available at the Crossroads Motel, Great Western and Empire Hotels if having difficulty getting a booking. This is a mining town with high demand for the facilities. The Cobar races are on Saturday 12th May 2018, which the Mayor of Cobar Shire Council and Deputy Chair of the Association, Clr. Lilliane Brady, would like delegates to stay for and to have a look around the Shire before returning. If attending the races, please inform the Cobar Shire Council Mayor’s office so catering & entry as a guest so arrangements can be made. Call Mayor’s EA Janette Booth on 02 68365809 or email janette.booth@cobar.nsw.gov.au

Attendance at Next meeting 11th May 2018

Just a regular reminder to delegates we always need to guarantee we have a Quorum for the Ordinary Meeting on 11th May 2018. Therefore your presence is recommended. Attendance at the meetings in Sydney were excellent, thank you, now for Cobar.Your advice on who is attending from your Council, as soon as possible to the Executive Officer by email would be appreciated to ensure we have a quorum and for catering purposes. Currently, the Association has 19 members so that means half plus one for a quorum = 10. Agendas will be out about ten to seven days before the meetings as per the constitution. The Executive Officer will send out a Meeting Notice reminder in April and in the next Newsletter to keep reminding delegates of the meetings.

Speakers at the the Solar Farm Workshop on 10th May 2018 and/or Ordinary Meeting on 11th May 2018

In addition to the speakers from Dubbo City Council, Warren and other Councils with solar farming projects, approaches have also been made to Mike Young at DPE, Clean Energy Council, Clean Energy Regulator, Ashley Albury at DPC and a Charles Sturt University contact to have speakers for either the Workshop or Ordinary meeting at Cobar. Mayor of Cobar Shire Council and Deputy Chair of MERC. They will be followed up until I get committments from them.

Update on the Joint Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

A meeting was held in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 after the Ordinary meeting with Chris Wilson, consultant appointed by the DPE (agreed to by the NSW Minerals Council and MERC to the VPA Joint Working Party). In attendance were consultant Warwick Giblin and our delegates, Clr Owen Hasler and Steve Loane to update Chris on progress with the Joint VPAWP for his report to the DPE which was due by mid April 2018. A copy of the draft will be considered by the delegates beforehand. The consultant has assured the Executive Officer the draft will be available next week (from 9th April ) for the working party to consider.

The DPE are keen to capture the information agreed by the respective parties and include it in the Guidelines on VPA’S as a Practice Note or similar, but needed to have an independent interview the parties and write the report for them to consider given the opposed arguments and political sensitivities.

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions (R4R)

The Executive Officer as the delegate for the Association attended a RIAP meeting in Sydney on 1st March 2018. There was $50.6m on the table for assessment of the 24 shortlisted applications from the last R4R 2017 round for recommendation to the CEO Infrastructure NSW thereafter for a Cabinet decision, however not all the funds were committed as they did not meet the requirements despite being shortlisted. The Executive Officer cannot release any specific details due to confidentiality obligations but has given a commitment to members to provide information to assist members where possible when submitting future applications at the next meeting of delegates in May 2018. Minister Barilaro has been approached for a meeting awaiting advice from his office (he is in USA) on R4R.

Website

The Executive Officer has been in discussion with CIBIS on the format for the new website and will be presenting the draft format to Executive Committee to consider with the aim to have it finalised by the May meetings in Cobar.

Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020

The Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020 was adopted at the Special General Meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 with changes reflected in the minutes of the Special General Metting 23rd Febraury 2018 which have now been distributed to delegates. The Executive Officer has developed a report format (agreed to by the Executive Committee) which will be submitted to delegates quarterly as part of the Ordinary meeting Executive Officer’s report with comments on progress with the actions therein. The Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020 will be posted on the website.

Constitution Review

The Constitution has been rewritten to incorporate all of the changes made at the Special General Meeting held on 17th November 2017 and on 23rd February 2018 and adopted with several more changes to complement the Strategic directional changes and further clarify interpretations of the content therein which have not been debated for a long time in the vigorous manner they were at the meeting on 23rd February 2018. The amended Constitution has now been approved by the Department of Fair Trading and will be posted on the web site.

The Executive Committee will consider the interpretation of “a minimum of two terms “ (is it two terms as a delegate of the Council for the term of the Council ie  two four year terms or two years as an annual appointment as the delegate of the Council for two terms?) for life membership eligibility in Clause 4.5 for discussion with delegates in May.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – August and November

The Association has its next meeting in Cobar in 10/11th May 2018 and arrangements are being made to have the August meeting in Sydney at Parliament House again, we will work around the Country Mayors date on 3rd August 2018 and an email has been sent to book NSW Parliament House for 8/9th. We will have another regional meeting in the Upper Lachlan Shire in November when its warmer!.

The Executive will decide on the date for the November 2018 meeting in consultation with the Upper Lachlan Council at Crookwell or a larger Council in the region for the wind farming developments workshops and membership drive.

Membership Campaign

Warren Shire Council could not attend our Sydney meeting but have resolved to send a Councillor and General Manager (Glenn Wilcox, Life Member of the Association) to our next meeting in Cobar as observers and then to report back to their Council on whether to join the Association or not. They have a very large solar farm development proposed for construction at Nevertire on Mitchell Highway, near Warren and are interested in being part of our voice.

The observer from Mid Coast Council, (M/s Lisa Schiff, Director Planning and Natural Resources) that attended our meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 has reported that Mid Coast Council has resolved to become being a member of the Association, in view of coal mining development expansion in the Gloucester area which is now part of Mid Coast Council and the strategic direction of MERC. Hopefully the Solar Farm workshop and meetings at Cobar 10/11th May 2018 result in Balranald, Warren and Walgett all joining the Association

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 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 Executive Committee at its May meeting is to consider the adoption of a Marketing Policy and Plan to ensure membership increases by targeting more renewable energy development affected LGA’s in NSW.

Southern NSW and New England areas will be targeted, like we have with Orana and Upper Lachlan.

 Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press

“Cadia Mine closed”

Here is a link provided by Heather Nicholls, Cabonne Shire Council delegates for the information of delegates. Basically the Cadia gold mine near Orange and Blayney was shut down pending an investigation as to why there was a tailings dam wall breach and the Environment Protection Authority is investigating. The mine has since been cleared to re-open.

http://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/5276428/cadia-mine-closed-tailings-dam-wall-breach-under-close-scrutiny/?cs=103

“Thousands rally against coal’ Chris Bath reported in the Northern Daily Leader on 2nd April  2018 that farmers on horseback joined over 5000 fellow protesters in Sydney’s CBD over the weekend taking the message of environmental sustainability to the door of the Berejiklian Government. Protesters were from Bingara, lead by farmer Glenn Morris, First Nations people, including a large Gomeroi contingent and others. Mr Morris called for a ban on Coal Seam Gas and Mining to focus on sustainability. He says “ There is devastation because of climate change all across NSW, we cant afford to destroy any more healthy land”. Farmers from the Liverpool Plains, Lock the Gate Alliance and Nature Conservation Council (NCC) were all represented. Kate Smolski, CEO of NCC says “ we have one of the most coal dependent energy systems in the world, with 79% of our electricity coming from coal. The transition from coal and gas to solar, wind and storage will attract $25 billion of investment, the construction of about 2500 wind turbines and the installation of more 42 million solar panels across the state. It’s a big job, but making the NSW electricity system 100% renewable is 100% doable. The only thing missing is strong political leadership” Refer deratls in www.northerndailyleader.nsw.com.au 2nd April 2018.

“Coal fired plants on the backburner worldwide” Peter Hannam, Environment editor in the Sydney Morning Herald, 23rd March 2018, writes that Coal-fired power is on track to start shrinking globally by 2022 dimming prospects for exporters of the fossil fuel, including Australia, according to a report by environmental groups. The article provided details on the reduction in the number of coal fired power plants in China and India and says the global trends raise questions about the outlook for Australia’s coal export markets and the wisdom of government support to open up major new mines, such as Adani in the Galilee Basin QLD. NSW Minerals Council declined to comment. Matt Canavan, Federal Resources Minister said “coal would continue to be an important power source for decades to come. He said the International Energy Agency predicts Asian Coal demand will increase by almost 12% from 2016 through to 2040”. Refer www.smh.com.au 23rd March 2018 for details.

“Energy Operator trying to fill the gap” Cole Latimer in Sydney Morning Herald 23rd March 2018 in his article writes that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) want the governments’ National Energy Guarantee (NEG) pushed through as it questions AGL’s committment to replace the electricity lost when its Liddell coal – fired power plant closes. AEMO says the uncertainty around AGL’s promise to replace all power lost when Liddell closes in 2022 may create a 850 megawatt shortfall, but the National Energy Guarantee could encourage other players to replace it instead of pushing AGL to commit to new generation. The CEO of AEMO Audrey Zibleman said “ due to the volume of the gap the AEMO’s preference is that either the NEG or a mechanism that can be used for NSW with a pending NEG will be agreed by year end 2018 for use during 2019. The NEG was vital for the market as no competing energy policies exist.” Refer www.smh.com.au 23rd March 2018.

“Town mulls over $600m wind farm” Jamieson Murphy in Northern Daily Leader 9th March 2018 in his article outlines the proposed $600 million wind farm near Nundle, northern NSW, would bring more than 300 jobs to the region according to the project’s developer. There is also potential for it to include a solar farm. The developer is to create a community investment fund “to give back to the region”. More than one third of the the town’s 300 people turned up to a community meeting about the development. The reaction from the community has not been in favour as indicated in the press since, due to the appearance on the horizons of the wind turbines. Refer www.noertherndailyleader.com.au for details.

Councils eye renewable development” Laurie Bullock  reports in the Northern Daily Leader 27th March 2018 that representatives from Councils around the New England part of the state met with Parliamentary Secretary for Renewab;le Energy Ben Franklin in Armidale on 26th March 2018 where they discussed how they could get together to drive investment in the region. This was in light of a state government report released last week indicating the New England as a location where wind farms, solar farms and pumped hydro electricity could all be developed. The report was a submission from the state government to the AEMO which said the New England along with Central West and South West of NSW “could unlock 77,000 megawatts of new generation capacity”. Due to the size of the state, these three areas could become the biggest electricity producers in the country, the article said! Refer to www.northerndailyleader.com.au for details.

Biggest wind farm in NSW makes way for greener energy and more jobs” David Marchese on ABC News wrote this story, Chair of MERC, Cr Peter Shinton has been mentioned in it. This link was submitted courtesy of Cr Michael Banasik on 4th April 2018.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-03/nsw-wind-farm-gets-go-ahead/9615430?smid=Page:%20ABC%20News-Facebook_Organic&WT.tsrc=Facebook_Organic&sf186142463=1

 Contact

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 peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservcie.com.au or info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                      Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC Newsletter – February 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the February 2018 Newsletter under the new name of the “Association of Mining & Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” as approved by the Department of Fair Trading and the acronym as determined by delegates, after much discussion, is MERC.

Our new logo (Option B with amendments to the wording so it reads “Mining and Energy” in large letters to emphasise our focus on Mining & Energy and underneath it has “Related Councils NSW” next to the green symbol on the left) was also agreed to after much debate by delegates. Option B was circulated to delegates with the business papers. The graphic design has to be checked for copyright and so the logo format has not yet been finalised to put on our correspondence and website.

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.

Next Meetings in Cobar 10/11th May 2018

The May Ordinary meeting will be held in Cobar, likely to be held in the Cobar Golf Club Auditorium to commence from 9.00am on 11th May 2018 and finish at 1.00pm. The Executive Committee will meet at 9.00am also likely to be at the same venue.

The afternoon workshop on Thursday 10th May 2018 will commence at 1.00pm with a keynote speaker (hopefully someone to speak on Solar Energy as an energy source or similar energy entity of national high standing) and representatives from Councils in the Orana region (members and non members) that have been through the solar farming development process to share the lessons learnt, to outline the pitfalls and best practices.

So far Bogan Shire Council, Dubbo Regional Council and Warren Shire Council have indicated their interest is presenting. Other Council’s outlined in the recent media release from Minister Roberts on Solar Farm developments will be invited to attend and /or present on their Solar Farm development experiences. Watch this space…..

To assist bookings need to be made early so Cobar Shire Council have provided the following details for the accommodation. Note travel will be limited to flying to Dubbo and hiring vehicles or arrange a private air charter to Cobar Airport, at this stage:

Cobar Central Motor Inn

18 Murray Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6830 2000; Email: motelcobar@bigpond.com  Website: http://www.cobarcentralmotorinn.com.au/cobar-contact-us.html

Cobar Town and Country Motor Inn

52 Marshall Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 1244

Website: http://www.cobartownandcountry.com.au/CobarTownandCountry/index.html

Cobar Oasis Motel

76 Marshall Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 2844; Email: admin@cobaroasismotel.com.au Website: http://www.cobaroasismotel.com.au/

Copper City Motel

40 Lewis Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 2404;Email: coppercitymotel@bigpond.com Website: http://coppercitymotel.com.au/

Cobar Caravan Park

101 Marshall Street, Cobar NSW 2835; Phone: 02 6836 2425; Email: info@cobarcaravanpark.com.au Website: http://www.cobarcaravanpark.com.au/

There is also accommodation available at the Crossroads Motel, Great Western and Empire Hotels if having difficulty getting a booking. This is a mining town with high demand for the facilities. The Cobar races are on Saturday 12th May 2018, which the Mayor of Cobar Shire Council and Deputy Chair of the Association, Clr. Lilliane Brady, would like delegates to stay for and to have a look around the Shire before returning, there is a lot of interesting places to see in this historic mining and rural services Shire.

Attendance at Next meeting 11th May 2018

Just a regular reminder to delegates we always need to guarantee we have a Quorum for the Ordinary Meeting on 11th May 2018. Therefore your presence is recommended. Attendance at the meetings in Sydney were excellent, thank you, now for Cobar.

Your advice on who is attending from your Council, as soon as possible to the Executive Officer by email would be appreciated to ensure we have a quorum and for catering purposes. Currently, the Association has 19 members so that means half plus one for a quorum. Agendas will be out about ten to seven days before the meetings as per the constitution. The Executive Officer will send out a Meeting Notice reminder in April and in the next few Newsletters.

 Speakers at the Ordinary Meeting on 23rd February 2018

Having the meeting in Parliament House assisted in having the Minister for Energy, Resources, Utilities and the Arts, Don Harwin; Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations & Resources, Adam Searle; senior staff from the DPE, Katharine Hole and Felicity Greenway; the President of the LGNSW, Linda Scott all attend and speak to delegates. Details of their speeches will be forwarded if and when they are received. The venue in the Jubilee room was an excellent venue for future meetings and the staff were very co operative. Rick Colless’ office was responsible for booking the venue for MERC so same again for August.

Intelligence Briefing & Information Sharing Segment

Warwick Giblin, Oz Environmental, conducted our first segment on the political, buraeucratic,  and industry happenings with an update on current and emerging issues in the mining and energy space in order to keep delegates better informed. It is proposed to have these briefings when meetings are held in Sydney twice a year. The Strategic Plan has actions in it to ensure delegates have industry experts address them to ensure they are up to date with the latest happenings in the state, particularly as the energy debate unfolds and more energy developments commence.

Unfortunately, a lot of the information provided by the consultant was a repeat on what the earlier speakers had said which was unavoidable as they were on the latest statistics plus the time taken up by the speakers beforehand had an impact on how the segment was received by delegates.This can be improved with different topics, speaker time limits and questions being submitted prior. Despite this the meetings concluded on time.

 Update on the Joint Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

A meeting was held in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 after the Ordinary meeting with Chris Wilson, consultant appointed by the DPE (agreed to by the NSW Minerals Council and MERC to the VPA Joint Working Party). In attendance were consultant Warwick Giblin and our delegates, Clr Owen Hasler and Steve Loane to update Chris on progress with the Joint VPAWP for his report to the DPE by mid April 2018. A copy of the draft will be considered by the delegates beforehand.

The DPE are keen to capture the information agreed by the respective parties and include it in the Guidelines on VPA’S as a Practice Note or similar, but needed to have an independent interview the parties and write the report for them to consider given the opposed arguments and political sensitivities.

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions (R4R)

The Executive Officer as the delegate for the Association attended a RIAP meeting in Sydney on 1st March 2018. There was $50.6m on the table for assessment of the 24 shortlisted applications from the last R4R 2017 round for recommendation to the CEO Infrastructure NSW thereafter for a Cabinet decision, however not all the funds were committed as they did not meet the requirements despite being shortlisted. The Executive Officer cannot release any specific details due to confidentiality obligations but has given a commitment to members to provide information to assist members where possible when submitting future applications.

The Guidelines were specific and required Councils to meet them (eg have a 50% co – contribution which was not Restart NSW funded, etc is one). They were pre rated by Infrastructure NSW in conjunction with senior officers from Treasury and Premiers and Cabinet in accordance with methodology developed to rate against the criteria in the published Guidelines and the applications submitted. A probity auditor from the private sector was present to ensure applications met the Guidelines.

The Panel then considered what was recommended from the senior officers and had no other option than to consider and endorse those projects that complied and were recommended. However where projects did not meet the criteria eg didn’t have the 50% co contribution but had merit taking into account the other criteria assessed against the Guidelines they were noted by the Panel. Hopefully the CEO has some discretion to agree to help the applicants that were in this position in the future.

However, one has to question the need to have a Panel in place on the current basis and Guidelines. The process needs to be reviewed to ensure the money from royalties goes back into the mining affected communities they were raised from to assist Councils and their communities with infrastructure upgrades.

 Delegates expressed their concern at the Ordinary meeting on 23rd February 2018 about the Resources for Regions program and how it has deviated from what was first intended and resolved that the Association meet with relevant Ministers to outline concerns about the co-contribution requirements imposed on small rural Councils, the stringent cost benefit analysis approach and its deviation from its original intention of putting royalty funds back into the mining affected Councils.

 Website

The Executive Committee has accepted the offer from CIBIS to  modernise our website. As you can see from the website there is a lot of changes to be done and the presentation modernised. The addition of a new Strategic Plan, Logo and amended constitution will be part of the exercise in consultation with the Executive Officer and Executive Committee.

Review of Strategic Framework (Plan) 2018 – 2020

The Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020 was adopted at the Special General Meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 with a change to the Vision to read “As the peak body in NSW, empowering, resourcing and advocating on behalf of local councils impacted by mining and energy production”. The name of the Association has changed to the ”Association of Mining and Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” (MERC). Department of Fair Trading has registered our new name and provided a certificate of Incorporation. Other chnages were to vary the Action in the Strategic Plan for the development of a Marketing Policy in the Resourcing Section (Deliverables and Performance Measures) to be undertaken by the Executive Committee and to not establish a working party. Plus it was agreed to list the names of the respective Working Parties in the Strategic Plan.

Constitution Review

Changes to the Constitution for name changes, details in clauses therein relating to “mining and energy related” matters, representation, voting policy/procedures and minor typographicals were adopted in readiness for the Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 on 17th November 2017.

The Constitution has been rewritten to incorporate all of the changes made at the Special General Meeting held on 17th November 2017 and now the Department of Fair Trading want it adopted as a new document. Consequently, it was presented to the Special General Meeting on 23rd February 2018 and adopted with several more changes to complement the Strategic directional changes and further clarify interpretations of the content therein which have not been debated for a long time in the vigorous manner they were at the meeting on 23rd February 2018 which are now reflected in the Document Controlled Appendix attached to the Constitution. This will be re submitted to the Departmnet of Fair Trading.

The changes are repeated in this Newsletter as clarification of the debate and decisions, as follows:

  • Clause 4.5 Life Membership – Clarification of “a minimum of two terms”, being two terms as a delegate of the Council term or two terms as an annual appointment as a delegate. It was agreed that this be considered by the Executive Committee for a recommendation to a future Special General meeting to be held prior to the Annual General Meeting.
  • Clause 7.1 Executive of the Association – That the need for two Deputy Chairpersons remain but without the qualification for Coal and Metalliferrous.
  • Clauses 14.6.1 and 14.6.1.1 Voting – Contested Elections, discard the need for the separation of Coal and Metalliferrous as Deputy Chairpersons in the annual elections.
  • Clauses 14.6.3.2 & 14.6.3.4 Candidates Nominations and Resumes – The clarification of nominations and seconders. Clause 14.6.3.2 to read “The candidates for the positions in Clauses 14.6.1 and 14.6.2 should forward their nominations on the form provided to reach the Executive Officer not later than 4.30pm one week prior to the Annual General Meeting. Candidates should ensure their nomination is seconded by a current Association delegate. This may take the form of the seconder signing the candidate’s nomination form or alternatively by sending an email confirming their intent to second the nomination to reach the Executive Officer by the date of the election.” Clause 14.6.3.4 is deleted as being redundant and is now part of the amended Clause 14.6.3.2.

 Next Meetings of Association for 2018 – August and November

The Association has its next meeting in Cobar in 10/11th May 2018 and arrangements are being made to have the August meeting in Sydney at Parliament House again, we will work around the Country Mayors date on 3rd August 2018 and have been informed that 8/9th and 15/16th August are available with the latter when both houses are sitting. We will have another regional meeting in the Upper Lachlan Shire in November when its warmer!.

The Executive will decide on the date for the November 2018 meeting in consultation with the Upper Hunter Council at Crookwell or a larger Council in the region for the wind farming developments workshops and membership drive.

Membership Campaign

Warren Shire Council could not attend our Sydney meeting but have resolved to send a Councillor and General Manager (Glenn Wilcox, Life Member of the Association) to our next meeting in Cobar as observers and then to report back to their Council on whether to join the Association or not. They have a very large solar farm development proposed for construction at Nevertire on Mitchell Highway, near Warren and are interested in being part of our voice.

The observer from Mid Coast Council, (M/s Lisa Schiff, Director Planning and Natural Resources) that attended our meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018 has reported that there is strong interest in Mid Coast Council (under the current leadership) being a member of the Association, in view of coal mining development expansion in the Gloucester area which is now part of Mid Coast Council and the strategic direction of MERC. Hopefully the Executive Officer and Chair will recive an invitation to address the Council soon.

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 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.

 Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press

“The Australian Mining Review”  In the February 2018 publication, there is a four page A3 spread in it outlining mining in Cobar Shire Council under the heading “A town diversified” written by Elizabeth Fabri and with comments from the Council’s Director Corporate & Economic Development, Angela Sheherd. The article outlines the challenges the Council, miners and community face with a lack of water, no regular passenger air transport operator, the cost of energy and being able to attract and retain skilled workers. Despite this, the future is bright with positive exploration and expansions. The extent of the underground geology is unknown and modern technology is finding more minerals daily that previous explorers have missed. The mining fraternity have invested in the social fabric of the community with the formation of a community committee to commemorate the  miners that have lost their lives in the Shire over the years and festivals to celebrate mining. Refer www.australianminingreview.com.au for full details.

Blast plume raises concerns” In the Singleton Argus on 14th February 2018, journalist Louise Nichols indicated that a mine blast plume was reported by Bulga residents causing dust and a nasty sulphur odour. It is being investigated by the EPA. The miner had not been identified. In the same article, it was reported that two recent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) public meetings were held in Singleton to discuss Yancoal’s mining expansions and modifications however very few people attended but those that did all spoke on the issue of air quality.They repeated their concerns about the cumulative impacts from all the mines and espaecially during the current hot dry weather conditions. Refer www.singletonargus.com.au for full details.

‘”Preferential treatment: Rejected coalminer granted unusual legal rights” Peter Hannam on 4th February 2018 in the Sydney Morning Herald reported the Berejiklian govenment has given the developer of a proposed coal mine near Gloucester the unusual right to challenge the project’s refusal in court, an opportunity routinely denied mining opponents. Previously PAC had rejected Gloucester Resources Ltd’s proposal to begin an open cut mine near Gloucester. The PAC found “the economic benefits of the mine with a 220 metre pit being within a kilometre of homes were outweighed by the detriment to the quality of life for residents near the mine site”. Refer www.smh.com.au for more details.

Proof we’ve got power over Vics” Kylar Loussikian on 1st March 2018 reports in the Daily Telegraph that NSW Electricity keeps Melbourne lights on! NSW power stations kept the lights on in Victoria over the sweltering summer, including during the Australian Open when energy regulators warned of rolling black out threats for our southern neighbours. NSW has exported 2577 per cent more power to Victoria during December to end of February 2018 compared to last summer.The closure of Hazelwood power plant in Victoria in March last year contributed to that. AGL in NSW is to spend $200m to upgrade the Bayswater power station by replacing ageing turbines to provide electricity to 100,000 homes when Liddell closes down. The NSW Minister for Energy, Don Harwin said Sydney “had remained in good shape” this summer because of the lessons learnt last year, when the city was plunged into crisis and families urged to go to shopping centres etc to save power at home”. Refer to www.dailytelegraph.com.au for more details.

Electricty bill wipes out profit for small businesses”  Jane Hansen in the Sunday Telegraph, 11th February 2018 reports that a small family business at Wongarbon near Dubbo had an increase in their quarterly electricity bill which had tripled in five years taking their profits. With the sweltering heat, the airconditioners had to be kept on to ensure the stock didn’t melt. The article also talks about the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is holding an enquiry into the enrgy market and they have released a preliminary report which indicates the small business in Wongarbon is not alone. The business owner said he has no other option but to go solar however he has to find the outlay to do it!!!! Refer www.sundaytelegraph.com.au for details.

Coal has a role in avoiding SA – style blackouts” Stephen Galilee (CEO, NSW Minerals Council) writes in the Daily Telegraph on 23rd February 2018 and outlines the situation NSW is facing in the lead up to 2019 and 2023 elections once Liddell closes in 2022 and urges the state government to act now in case AGL’s plans to replace Liddell with a combination of renewables and batteries and have a vague plan to replace the 1600 megawatts of baseline power that Liddell generated. He points out that in countries such as Japan, Vietnam, Phiilipines and Malaysia they are locking in affordable and reliable electricity through High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) coal fired power plants that are supplied with high quality coal produced in NSW. Steve questions if this is good enough for these countries, why not here, to avoid any SA – style blackouts? For more detials refer to www.dailytelegraph.com.au

Contact

 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 Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservcie.com.au or info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

 

Greg Lamont                                                                                     Clr Peter Shinton

Executive Officer                                                                               Chair

MERC NEWSLETTER – January 2018

Introduction

Delegates, here is the January 2018 Newsletter with a new name and acronym.What is best AMERC or MERC (staying with MERC at the moment), up for discussion, but no logo as yet…. it’s on the way.

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.

Next Meetings in Sydney 22/23rd February 2018

The February Ordinary meeting will be at NSW Parliament House, Jubilee Room, anticipated to commence from 9.00am on 23rd February 2018, sponsored by the Hon Rick Colless, Member Legislative Council, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and Western NSW. He is also the Chair Western Mining Taskforce and he will address delegates on where the Western Mining Taskforce is up to now they have reformed.

Delegates will need to be there sufficiently early to enable screening on entry to occur. The meeting will be preceded by a Special General Meeting to adopt the Association’s Strategic Plan for 2017 – 2020, logo and constitution with the Executive Committee to meet the afternoon before at 2.00pm, hopefully it will also be at Parliament House, in the McKellar Room, waiting on confirmation. In addition to Rick Colless, the Minister for Energy and Resources, the Hon Don Harwin looks likely to be a speaker on 23rd February 2017, however still waiting on Minister’s confirmation.

Felicity Greenway and Katharine Hole from Department Planning & Environment will be addressing delegates on the renewable energy policies and inititives of the state government as per the Associations resolution at its November meeting in 2017.

Attendance at Next meeting 23RD February 2018

Just a regular reminder to delegates we always need to guarantee we have a Quorum for the Special General Meeting and Ordinary Meetings on 23rd February 2018. Therefore your presence is recommended.

The meetings will commence at 9.00am in NSW Parliament House, Jubilee Room (to the right as you enter the building). Your advice on who is attending from your Council, as soon as possible to the Executive Officer by email would be appreciated to ensure we have a qurum and for catering purposes. Currently, the Association has 19 members so that means half plus one for a quorum. Agendas will be out about ten days before the meetings in the week beginning 13th February 2018 as per constitution.

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

A meeting was held in Sydney on 15th December 2017 with M/s Alison Frame, M/s Felicity Greenway and Mr Stephen Barry from Department Planning and Environment and our own Chair Clr Peter Shinton, Clr Owen Hasler and the Executive Officer, to discuss progress with the Joint VPAWP. Delegates provided the senior staff of the DPE with an informative update outlining areas that were agreed and not agreed by the parties in the Joint VPAWP and the arguments to them.

The DPE are keen to capture the information agreed by the respective parties and include it in the Guidelines on VPA’S as a Practice Note or similar, but needed to think about how they were going to deal with the task given the opposed arguments and political sensitivities. The DPE would consider two separate close out reports as an option and engage a contractor to assist with putting them together and then get back to the Association in the New Year and what they would like to do with this given both parties have invested a considerable amount of time and money in the project.

The General Manager, Lachlan Shire Council, Mr Robert Hunt, has kindly forwarded a reply his Council received in response to their letter to the Minister on VPA’s as per the Association’s request to delegates in 2017, which confirms our discussions with the DPE as follows, penned by Alison Frame on behalf of the Minister:

Thank you for making the NSW Government aware of Lachlan Council’s recent resolution to support the Association’s preferred model for calculating the quantum payable under a VPA. To help record and preserve progress achieved to date on this matter, the Department has offered to work with both parties to prepare a formal joint report on the outcomes of the negotiations. This would note the areas of agreement and include options for resolving any areas of disagreement. We will be in touch with the AMRC shortly to progress this report.

Andrew Barry, DPE on behalf of Alison Frame has recently emailed the Chair and has advised that they have identified a contractor to assist in the preparation of a report of the outcomes of the VPA negotiations between MERC and NSW Minerals Council  in relation to Voluntary Planning Agreements. The report will document where those negotiations progressed to, how the parties propose to take the work forward and any other agreed next steps. Andrew has submitted terms of reference and the timeframe is to have the rpeoprt from the contractor completed by end of March 2018 and is seeking comments from the Working Party about the path and contractor chosen.

Clr Hasler, Steve Loane and the Executive Officer make up the current VPA Working Party and will consider the content of the Scope of Works in consultation with the Chair and Executive Committee, as required. The number one priority is to meet with the contractor as soon as possible to put our case on the table. More later at the 22nd and 23rd February meetings for an update.

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions

The NSW Government will be calling for more applications for Resources for Regions round two later in 2018, given the recent announcements and promotions by the State Government and Minister Barilaro. Go to www.nsw.gov.au/regionalgrowth or call 1300679673 for details. The Executive Officer as the delegate for the Association has been informed next RIAP meeting in Sydney on 1st March 2018, there is no Agenda as yet and the execrise will be to consider the shortlisted applications from 2017’s call for submissions. There is $50m on the table for assessment. 

Website

The Executive Officer has forwarded a brief seeking a price from our existing provider to undertake the task of modernising the webpages (after canvassing Councils), for consideration by Executive Committee at their meeting on 22nd February 2018 on what pages do they want left in, etc. As you can see from the website there is a lot of changes to be done and the presentation modernised. The addition of new Stregic Plan, Logo amended constitution will be part of the exercise.

Review of Strategic Framework (Plan) 2017 – 2020

The Draft Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 will be presented to the Special General Meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018. The name of the Association has changed to ”Association of Mining and Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” (MERC or AMERC?). Department of Fair Trading has registered our new name and provided a certificate of Incorporation.

The Strategic Plan has been re worked/formatted by the Chair and members of the working Party and along with a new logo this will be adopted on 23rd February 2018.

Wollongong City Council Marketing department have been engaged to do the design of a new logo for the Executive to consider, to compliment the Strategic direction and name change of the Association. They will provide three options to the Executive which will be presented to delegates at the Special General Meeting on 23rd February 2017.

Constitution Review

Changes to the Constitution for name changes, details in clauses therein relating to “mining and energy related” matters, representation, voting policy/procedures and minor typographicals were adopted in readiness for the Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 on 17th November 2017.

The Constitution has been rewritten to incorporate all of the changes made at the Special General Meeting held on 17th November 2017 and now the Department of Fair Trading want it adopted as a new document. Consequently, it will be presented to the Special General Meeting on 23rd February 2017. The changes are now reflected in the Document Controlled Appendix attached to the Constitution.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018

The Association has its next meeting in Sydney at Parliament House on 23rd February 2018 then Cobar in May 2018, with the August date yet to be confirmed (however we will work around the Country Mayors dates) and try for the same venue when in Sydney in future, then we have another regional meeting in the Upper Lachlan Shire in November when its warmer!.

The Executive will decide on the date for the May 2018 meeting. Cobar Shire Council has now indicated that 10/11th May 2018 would suit their Council as they have a race meeting on 12th May 2018 sponsored by the Council, which is a good opportunity to showcase the Shire with MERC delegates in town.

There are member Councils that may have Council meetings that week plus presenters to arrange and the travel arrangements to get to/from Cobar are all things to be considered by the Executive Committee. Note there are no flights into Cobar at the moment, this may change in the future in view of current negotiations by Cobar Shire Council with a potential airline service provider. Delegates can fly to Dubbo from Sydney and hire a vehicle and drive out or simply drive out. Dubbo may have a service via Newcastle by then if not now.

Membership Campaign

Campaign update – Dubbo have now written to the Executive Officer and have agreed to join the Association and not waiting until the construction of the mine commences as first indicated. Delegates from Dubbo are to be Mayor (Clr Ben Shields who is a member of LGNSW) and General Manager (Mr Michael McMahon). Forbes have also now joined and paid membership fees.

Warren Shire Council have resolved to send their Mayor (Cr Rex Wilson) and General Manager (Glen Wilcox, Life Member of the Association) to our next meeting as observers and then to report back to their Council on whether to join the Association or not. They have a very large solar farm development proposed for construction at Nevertire on Mitchell Highway, near Warren.

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 renewable energy for Councils; is not hampered by getting involved with 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 renewable energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated planning processes adequate to do this? 

DPE Documents on Exhibition

The Association resolved at the November Meeting to prepare the following submissions to the DPE on their documents which are now on exhibition by 16th February 2018, as follows:

  • Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy;
  • Review the amendments to the Environment & Assessment Act 1979;
  • Examine Lisa Corbyn’s Independent Review Assessment Report.

The Association has engaged Warwick Giblin to prepare Drafts for these, plus do further submissions on the other documents also on exhibition such as the Guidelines for Large Scale Solar Farms and the discussion paper on Mine Rehabilitation in NSW, given their relevance and importance to the Association’s members and objects.

Input has been sought from member Councils such as Singleton, Cabonne and Mid Western who have had experience in these areas. The Executive Officer will work with Warwick on them and liaise with the Executive for input prior to sending the submissions in and when lodged copies will be forwarded to all member Councils for their information.

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press

“The Australian Mining Review”  A complimentary copy of the January 2018 publication has been received by the Executive Officer and is available for an annual subcription of $120 plus GST for a hard copy. It is very informative on not just mining but energy related issues from a national perspective and a worthy read. Interestingly, there is an article in it outlining the ironic fact that miners are using renewable energy options to lower their own costs by up to 30%.

Also in another mining article the paper outlines 8 major mining projects in Australia in 2018 of which two of them are in NSW:

  • The Syerston Project (CleanTeq), CAPEX of $US680M, 2.5mtpa open pit project to produce nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate for the lithium – ion battery market, with a mine life 20 years initially;
  • The Woodlawn Project (Heron Resources), CAPEX of $156m, 1.5mtpa Zinc Copper, mine life of about 10 years initially.

It also has “The Australian Energy Review” inside the paper, talking about what is happening nationally on Oil, Gas, Electricity and Renewables in about 30 pages. One major feature is on what happens after Liddell closes in the Hunter Valley and AGL Energy have put a NSW Generation Plan on the table where “old power plants can be replaced with a mixtrure of new, cleaner technology, wjhile improving relaibility and affordability” It will generate 1600MW from renewables, 500MW from a new Gas Power Plant, 250MW from battery storgae on the Liddell site and will look at the feasibility of a pumped hydro project in the Hunter Valley in conjunction with NSW Government and to stage the developments to avaoid a gap in power generation. More details on the AGL Energy website. Author of article in the Australina Energy Review was Cameron Drummond cam@miningoilgas.

The publication is available in hard and digital formats. Enquiries to brad@ miningoilgas.com.au or phone 08 63140303 for a 12 month hard copy subcription to the Australian Mining Review if interested. Only downside is there are a lot of advertisements in the publication and it has a WA bias.

Why not ring and get a complimentary copy and make your own mind up.

“ Lismore Floating Solar Farm”. Lismore City Council has developed a floating solar farm on the East Lismore Sewerage Plant ponds using funds lent by 20 community members as shareholders in the porject, estimated to generate $24,000 pa in income in providing power to local community members “off the grid”. Project was supported by the Department of Planning. Refer Council’s webpage and the Departments’ planning.nsw.gov.au sites.

Gunnedah Focus of Solar Proposals”   Vanessa Hohnke in The Northern Daily Leader on 30th January reports that “Gunnedah has become a hot spot for proposed solar farms. Orange Grove Sun Farm has jolined Photon Energy in submitting an application to DPE for a solar farm. The  CAPEX is estimated to be $80m for the 110 Mega Watt farm, 80 jobs during construction and three fulltime when built”. Noticed also another solar farm is proposed for Wee Waa in the Narrabri Shire Council area. Details are in northerdailyleader.com.au

“The Five Renewabale Energy Predictions for the Year”  Cole Latimer in the Sydney Morning Herald  January 18Th 2018 edition in providing a Global Outlook for Australia and predicted that solar power, batteries and electric vehicles will be the big stories of 2018. He said “that’s the view of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysts outlining the big factors that will be leading the sustainable energy transition. They are listed as Clean Energy, Solar Power, Wind Power, Batteries and Electric Cars”.

There is a lot of valuable data in the article showing the investment potential of all. Reference in the article was made to a new cost-analysis report entitled “Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2017” by the International Renewable Energy Agency, that forecasts the global costs for onshore wind and solar to fall significantly, having already dropped 25 per cent since 2010. More details are available on smh.com.au site.

“MP Gets a Black Mark on Outages” The Sydney Morning Hereald on 9th January 2018 reported (Danielle Le Messurier and Sam McBeath) that Energy Minister Don Harwin has infuriated thousands of residents hit by blackouts on Sydney’s hottest day in 80 years by claiming the outages were just “par for the course”.

Ausgrid, the electricty retailer which left homes sweletering without power for hours despite raking in huge profits from skyrocketing bills, had a similar blunt message, saying it would cost too much to deliver power to “100per cent of customers 100 per cent of the time”. There were 42 major outages across the Ausgrid network on Sunday, leaving 31000 customers to melt as mercury soared into the mid 40’s, mainly on the Central Coast, the article said. Endeavour Energy had interuptions to 7400 homes in Penrith area. Refer to smh.com.au for further details.

Contact

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 Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 68492000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservcie.com.au or info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407937636.

Greg Lamont – Executive Officer

Clr Peter Shinton – Chair

MERC NEWSLETTER – 22nd December 2017

Introduction

Delegates, here is the December 2017 Newsletter with a new name but no logo as yet,  however it 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. It is basically an update on the decisions made at the November meeting with Christmas wishes after a long but progressive year for the Association.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a very prosperous and Happy New Year!!!!

Next Meetings in Sydney 22/23rd February 2018

The February Ordinary meeting will be at NSW Parliament House, Jubilee Room, anticipated to commence from 9.00am on 23rd February 2018, sponsored by the Hon Rick Colless, Member Legislative Council, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and Western NSW. He is also the Chair Western Mining Taskforce after their recent meeting in the west on 17th November 2017 his address will update delegates where the Western Mining Taskforce is up to now they have reformed.

Delegates will need to be there sufficiently early to enable screening to occur. The meeting will be preceded by a Special General Meeting to adopt the Association’s Strategic Plan for 2017 – 2020 with the Executive Committee to meet the afternoon before at 1.00pm, hopefully it will also be at Parliament House as well, waiting on confirmation. In addition to Rick Colless, the Minister for Energy and Resources, the Hon Don Harwin looks likely to be a speaker on 23rd February 2017 along with Department Planning and Environment senior staff and/or other invited speakers on relevant topics, waiting on confirmation.

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

A meeting was held in Sydney on 15th December 2017 with M/s Alison Frame, M/s Felicity Greenway and Mr Stephen Barry from Department Planning and Environment and our own Chair Clr Peter Shinton, Clr Owen Hasler and the Executive Officer, to discuss progress with the Joint VPAWP. Delegates provided the senior staff of the DPE with an informative update outlining areas that were agreed and not agreed by the parties in the Joint VPAWP and the arguments to them.

The DPE are keen to capture the information agreed by the respective parties and include it in the Guidelines on VPA’S as a Practice Note, but needed to think about how they were going to deal with the task given the opposed arguments and political sensitivities. Would consider two separate close out reports as an option and get back to the Association in the New Year and what they would like to do with this given parties have invested a considerable amount of time and money.

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions

The NSW Government will be calling for more applications for Resources for Regions round two in 2018, given the recent announcements and promotions by the State Government and Minister Barilaro. The Office of Regional Development has announced who received the first Stronger Country Communities project grants and details of the Regional Growth Fund with the various programs and eligibility criteria are out. Go to www.nsw.gov.au/regionalgrowth or call 1300679673 for details. A few member Councils were successful. Get your grant officers onto these straight away and urge them to follow the Guidelines strictly. “‘Maybe” projects will not get funded!

Website

The Executive Officer has been talking with various proponents for the webpage re design, if your Council has an IT department that would be interested in talking with the Executive Officer about the project, please encourage them to do so.

Financials forwarded to Department Fair Trading (DFT)

The Executive Officer has lodged the 2016/2017 Financials with the DFT, fees have been paid and the signed financials have been forwarded to Roberts and Morrow, who recently reported that the Association had no issues and was operating satisfactorily.

Review of Strategic Framework (Plan) 2017 – 2020

The Draft Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 will be presented to the Special General Meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018. The name of the Association has changed to ”Association of Mining and Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” (MERC) and the document will be re formatted and hopefully a new logo can be adopted on 23rd February 2018 to accompany the plan. Department of Fair Trading has registered our new name and provided a new certificate of Incorporation.

Wollongong City Council Marketing department are providing a quote for the design of a new logo for the Executive Officer to consider after discussions with Clr Connor and Ron Zwicker to compliment the Strategic direction and name change of the Association. This will be presented to the Special General Meeting on 23rd February 2017.

Constitution Review

Changes to the Constitution for name changes, details in clauses therein relating to “mining and energy related” matters and minor typographicals were adopted in readiness for the Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 on 17th November 2017. The Association has also resolved that a Treasurer function was not warranted at this stage. It was further agreed that the amended constitution will be document controlled.

With the legal interpretation on proposed changes to Clause 4.6 Representation received from Zucker Legal, this Clause was changed to reflect the roles on delegates and the requirement to follow the Model Code of Conduct for NSW Local Government. Previously, the constitution said a delegate cannot be nominated by a member council if he/she has any association, commercial agreement or contract with a mining company. It now will read:

Any delegate appointed, will be bound by the model Code of Conduct for Local Government in NSW”

It was also agreed that Clause 14.6. in the Constitution is re worded to improve the clarity, the inclusion of only the preferentail voting system to be used for the election of the Executive Committee, plus resumes can be submitted with a nomination for any position which must be seconded by the time of the election. All to be part of the Association’s Election Policy statement.

These changes to the constitution have been submitted to the Department of Fair Trading and annual fees paid. When the constitution is retyped to reflect all the changes and has been approved by the DFT, it will be placed on the website.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018

The Association has its next meeting in Sydney at Parliament House on 23rd February 2018 with the August date yet to be confirmed but we will work around the Country Mayors dates and try for the same venue when in Sydney in future. As far as the regions go, the following was resolved on 17th November 2017, this will assist the membership campaign as well, so it has been repeated in the Newsletter:

  • May 2018 – Cobar Shire Council to host a regional meeting of the Association to showcase the solar farming in their Local Government Area, as a renewable energy source, and invite the Orana Regional Organisation of Councils (OROC) non – members of the Association, who are potential members of the Association, to attend and also show case their solar farming activities – date to be set by Executive Committee in conjunction with Cobar Shire Council;
  • November 2018 – Upper Lachlan Shire Council to host a regional meeting of the Association to showcase the wind farming in their Local Government Area, as a renewable energy source, and also invite those councils who are currently non – members, with wind farming projects in the region, to attend the meeting and showcase their projects – date to be set by Executive Committee in conjunction with Upper Lachlan Shire Council.

The Executive have been looking at dates for Cobar and it is likely that 3/4th May 2018 are looking good, more in the New Year.

Membership Campaign

After a passionate presentation by the Executive Officer on 14th November 2017, Forbes Shire Council has joined the Association and paid their fees already, such is their keenness -I think the new General Manager may have had a lot to do with it as has the need for them to work with a new miner in the area and neighbours who are already members of our Association for a three Council VPA. A big thank you to all who assisted. The delegates will be the new General Manager, Mr Steve Laone and Clr Phyllis Miller, a member of LGNSW board and experienced councillor.

As well, Dubbo have agreed to join the Association subject to fees being due when the miner commences construction in 2018. This request will be considered by the Executive Committee on 22nd Febraury 2018, when more details are to hand, however it is a positive move by this innovative Central Western Regional Council.

This success is unfortunately overshadowed by the withdrawal of Lithgow City Council from the Association. Fees for 2017/18 haveen be paid. Fit for the Future, delegate apathy or politics? It is important that delegates keep their colleagues informed on activities of the Association and it difficult when they don’t attend meetings to do this.

In discussions with prominent people in the industry, 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 renewable energy for Councils, is not hampered by getting involved with 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 renewable energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated processes adequate to do this?

Subsidence Advisory NSW

Councillor Dan Thompson, Singleton Council has stood down from the Mines Subsidence Board (now Subsidence Advisory NSW) and has been replaced by Councillor Melanie Dagg, Cessnock City Council. Clr Thompson requested the support from members for motions submitted by Singleton Council at the LGNSW Conference held 5/6th December 2017 in relation to changes to the way the mines subsidence issues & fund will be managed in future. The conference supported Singleton’s motion over whelmingly! On behalf of the Association and Singleton Council, thank you for the support form members and their colleagues.

Related Matters of Interest – DPE Documents on Exhibition

The Association received an update from Clr Owen Hasler, Association delegate to the Regional Advisory Forum on several papers that DPE has on exhibition for submissions to be made on behalf of delegates and resolved as follows:

  • That the Association prepare a submission on the Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy now on exhibition until February 2018 and write to member councils suggesting they make a submission on it, if they had not already done so;
  • That the Association review the amendments to the Environment & Assessment Act 1979 and the Executive Officer and/or consultant prepare a report to delegates on any implications;
  • That the Association invite Felicity Greenway (Executive Director Resources and Industry) and/or Katharine Hole (Renewable Energy and Related Policies – DPE) to address delegates on DPE Renewable Energy Guidelines;
  • That the Executive Officer and consultant examine Lisa Corbyn’s Independent Review Assessment Report and prepare a submission on behalf of the Association.

Consequently, if any member council is undertaking a review of any of the above in (a) – (d) as part of a decision or role of staff, can you please contact the Executive Officer. There are active staff members of the Association such as several General Managers that attend our meetings and staff that are in planning roles with the knowledge and expertise to assist or provide feedback or guidance to the Executive Officer in addressing the above. Your input will be welcomed.

Discussions will also be held with Warwick Giblin, Oz Environmental consultant on the documents, as per the resolution, to ascertain the most cost effective way to do the submissions. Any thoughts from staff involved/mentioned would be appreciated.

Release of NSW Government Discussion Paper on improving mine rehabilitation”. The DPE has issued a Discussion Paper which seeks to engage industry and the community on options for improvements to the regulatory framework for the rehabilitation of major mining projects in NSW. Submissions are due by 16th February 2018. Go to www.planning.nsw.gov.au/minerehabilitation to view the discussion paper and for details.

“Release of the Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy – Public Consultation

The DPE is seeking feedback on its review of the Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy (VLAMP) and an associated amendment to the State Environmnetal Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007 (Mining SEPP). Submissions are due by 16th Febraury 2018. Go to www.planning.nsw.gov.au/VLAMPreview for the draft guidelines.

Ron Swicker, Wollongong City Council, has already provided some dot points on the EPA Act changes and will have a look at the other papers in the new year. Brief discussions were held with DPE staff at our meeting in Sydney on 15th December 2017 on the documents on exhibition. The Executive Officer and Clr Hasler have had preliminary discussions with Warwick Giblin on the submissions in preparation for our submissions in 2018, if needed.

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press

Wind power under – utilised

Whilst the articles on energy options have diminished in recent times albeit a headline like “Wind power under-utilised” (SMH 13TH December 2017, www.smh.com.au), by Cole Latimer caught the eye when he was talking about renewable energy and he said “the  extent of resources is massive” in his subline. He says “ Australia can lead the world in wind power, but a lack of direction in policy has hampered its growth, according to the Australian Wind Alliance………..”

NSW makes first large scale renewable energy power purchase”  Journalist Peter Hannam, SMH 8th December 2017, www.smh.com.au He says “the Berejiklian governmen has its first move into large sacle renewable energy, signing a decade plus contract to help underpin the new Dubbo Solar Hub in the state’s Central West” Nooen Australia will begin from mid 2019 and run to the end on 2030.

Contact

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 Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au or phone at Council on 02 6849 2000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email greg@yourexecutiveservcie.com.au or info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au or phone on 0407 937 636.

Greg Lamont –  Executive Officer       

Clr Peter Shinton – Chair