Freo's View

IS WESTPORT SHORTLIST PREMATURE?

 

It is predictable that Garreth Parker in today’s column in the pro Liberal Sunday Times claims that the Westport Taskforce is flawed because it did not consider Roe8/9 as a potential solution, but that is for two reasons. There is no potential Roe 8/9 offered that had a solution for the North Fremantle traffic congestions, as the Barnett government experts could not find a way of connecting the last part of the highway extension into the port, and the second reason is that the McGowan government was elected with a landslide on the promise not to build Roe 8/9.

While I believe the Westport Taskforce process has been very good I am surprised they announced the preferred shortlist of options before environmental assessments have been made about the impact a potential new port in Kwinana might have on Cockburn Sound and what impact the mainly land-based transport options would have on local communities away from Leach Highway and North Fremantle.

What if the EPA and other agencies rule that marine life would be far too much threatened in Cockburn Sound and that a new port is not acceptable? Do we start from scratch again and repeat the whole expensive progress without a new Kwinana port as an option?

Public information and transparency are very important, but maybe it was just premature to announce a shortlist of options with a new Kwinana port as the first option before we understand the impact it might have on the very important Cockburn Sound.

Roel Loopers

MORE SUSTAINABILITY FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, city planning, environment, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on August 14, 2019

 

Fremantle has updated its Sustainable Building Policy to ensure Fremantle continues to be a leader in sustainable development.

The Sustainable Building Policy was adopted in 2011 and requires new residential and commercial buildings with a floor area of greater than 1000m2 to achieve a minimum 4-star ‘Green Star’ rating.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said as a result of the policy Fremantle had become a showcase for sustainable development.

“The award winning Liv apartments in Queen Victoria Street and the Evermore development in White Gum Valley have both been designed and built to be more energy efficient, saving residents money on power bills, and both have achieved One Planet accreditation thanks to their water and energy saving appliances, solar PV, double-glazing, organic waste and recycling facilities.

The Kings Square Renewal project component by Sirona Capital will feature 5-star Green Star commercial spaces, while the City’s new civic centre will be one of the most energy efficient buildings of its size in Australia.

The refinements made to the City’s Sustainable Building Policy include allowing the use of other equivalent assessment tools, such as One Planet certification, and streamlining implementation measures to clarify how compliance will be achieved before and after construction.

In reviewing the Sustainable Building Policy, the council also voted to rescind its Energy Efficient Building Design Policy, adopted in 2000, because the Building Code, national guidelines and other state planning policies have overtaken it.

The Freo Mayor said  “It’s another example of where local governments can explore new and innovative ideas at a local level, and if they prove successful they can be adopted more broadly.”

In addition to the Sustainable Building Policy the City of Fremantle also has planning policies that allow higher density if the development meets certain sustainability requirements, such as achieving a higher energy rating, the installation of solar panels and a rainwater tank or greywater system.

The Knutsford East Local Structure Plan also offers bonuses in height and density for design and sustainability excellence.

The Knutsford precinct includes Landcorp’s ground-breaking East Village development, in which 36 homes will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy using roof top solar panels and a shared community battery.

In an Australian first, a village micro-grid will allow residents to generate and share energy with their neighbours using an innovative energy trading platform.

Roel Loopers

FREO MAYOR REPLIES TO SOLAR FARM CRITICISM

Posted in city of fremantle, community, environment, local government, solar, Uncategorized by freoview on August 12, 2019

 

I believe it is fair and reasonable to give Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt a right to reply to the attacks in the West Australian and the concerns raised by members of the Fremantle community  in regard to the proposed Solar Farm in South Fremantle.

I have published all comments I received about this issue, so here the media release by the City in Fremantle in full:

The West Australian has published another misleading and inaccurate diatribe by Paul Murray (Tipping point for solar plan, 10 August 2019), this time attacking the City of Fremantle’s efforts to establish a solar farm on the former South Fremantle tip site.

Before addressing the main issue of the solar farm, Mr Murray couldn’t resist having another dig at the City’s sustainability credentials. 

Mr Murray claims the City of Fremantle’s carbon emissions have increased 49 per cent since 2009. This is incorrect.

Where Mr Murray has got it wrong is that he has confused carbon offsets purchased by the City with our emissions.

Previously the City purchased ‘green’ energy from Synergy at a premium price, as well as carbon offsets to offset other emissions like fleet vehicles. The Council made the very rational decision in 2013 to stop buying expensive green energy and instead buy cheaper ‘black’ energy along with additional carbon offsets. We used the money we saved to invest in our own renewable energy.

The purchase of these additional offsets has not only resulted in more than 150,000 trees being planted in degraded areas of the Wheatbelt to offset the City’s carbon emissions, but it has also been more cost effective for our ratepayers – something I would have thought The West Australian would applaud.

And while the amount of offsets purchased by the City now compared with 2009 has gone up, the City’s emissions have actually gone down. This could have been simply explained but Mr Murray didn’t bother to ask.

As for the solar farm itself, the main concern seems to be that the former South Fremantle tip is a contaminated site.

This is not news. We know it’s a contaminated site. It has been for decades.

If it wasn’t a contaminated site it would have had houses built on it, or it would have been turned into a sporting field.

The whole point of the solar farm project is to make productive use of a site that would otherwise remain a wasteland.

The management plans for the solar farm have been approved by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, the Department of Health and an independent contaminated sites auditor.

The City made getting approval from these agencies a condition of the project in order to safeguard the community. We have always said this project would only proceed if it could be done safely, and the expert advice says that it can.

A solar farm would be a light touch, with the panels specially designed to sit on the surface of the soil. There would be minimal disturbance of the soil and no disturbance of the contamination buried underneath.

Far from being a bombshell, the presence of quarantine waste at the tip site is well known. Previous site investigation reports commissioned by the City refer to the use of the site by AQIS for the deep burial of quarantine waste and these reports were considered in preparing the Site Management Plan for the solar farm.

Nevertheless, the City is checking with state government health and environmental agencies if they require more information about the safe management of quarantine waste, and will ensure that any further advice is complied with.

The issue of ‘glint and glare’ was considered by the City as part of the development approval. The simple response is that photovoltaic cells are designed to absorb light, not reflect it. 

Mr Murray also referenced the public information session which had been ‘strangely cancelled’.

This session was postponed, not cancelled, because most of the questions the City and solar farm developer Epuron were being asked were about technical aspects of the construction of the project. It made sense to delay the meeting until a construction contractor was appointed by Epuron so they could be available to answer those questions. Nothing strange, just common sense.

The West Australian has now published three opinion pieces by Paul Murray attacking me and the City of Fremantle, and yet not once has he asked me any questions or sought my comments. Worse still, when I sent my own response to The West Australian after the first attack piece they refused to publish it.

I have no problem being asked legitimate questions or with the City’s operations being scrutinised, but I expect a fair right of reply. Considering Paul Murray is the former editor of this once esteemed publication I would have expected higher journalistic standards.

It’s sad to see that Perth’s one and only daily newspaper has sunk to such depths.

and to make it abundantly clear. I would welcome a solar farm but only if it does not impact on the health of anyone in our community, and those nearby in Cockburn. There cannot be any compsomises on this.

Roel Loopers

MORE SOLAR FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, environment, health, local government, solar, Uncategorized by freoview on August 10, 2019

 

Solar panels being installed at sporting facilities around Fremantle are set to save local sporting clubs thousands of dollars on their power bills.

The panels are being installed at Gilbert Fraser Reserve in North Fremantle, Ken Allen Field in Beaconsfield and Stevens Reserve and Frank Gibson Reserve in Fremantle.

The project is being funded through a $20,500 federal government grant from Sport Australia and $12,000 from the City of Fremantle.

The clubhouse at Gilbert Fraser Reserve, which is home to the North Fremantle Amateur Football Club, Fremantle Mosman Park Cricket Club and Fremantle Masters Football Club, has had a 20 kilowatt solar system installed which will provide annual savings of almost $6000.

Ken Allen Field, home to the Fremantle City Football Club and Fremantle Roosters Rugby League Club, will get a 13 kilowatt system with annual savings of $4500.

A new 13 kilowatt system at Frank Gibson Park will deliver $4800 in savings to the Fremantle Netball Association, while the Fremantle District Cricket Club and Fremantle Hockey Club will save $3600 thanks to the 10 kilowatt system installed at Stevens Reserve.

 

This is positive news but in today’s West Australian columnist Paul Murray writes that former Greens member of Fremantle Adele Carles claims that the environmental impact of the proposed South Fremantle solar farm has not been properly investigated.

Fremantle Council and Mayor Brad Pettitt promised the community from the very start that the solar farm would only be approved if all environmental impacts on the community and health had been assessed, so if Adele Carles is correct more tests and checks need to be done before the solar farm can go ahead.

Roel Loopers

RETROFITTING SUBURBIA AT ECOBURBIA

Posted in city of fremantle, ecoburbia, environment, Uncategorized by freoview on July 30, 2019

 

ecoburbia

 

There are a few tickets left for this Saturday’s ECOBURBIA conference with David Holgrem and Sue Dennett, so make sure to contact Shani and Tim.

It is on from 9am to 4pm on Saturday August 3.

I have no further details about the event so check Ecoburbia on Facebook and website for bookings, etc.

 

Roel Loopers

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MORE WEST AUSTRALIAN ATTACKS ON FREMANTLE MAYOR

 

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt is being attacked again by columnist Paul Murray in today’s West Australian in regard to the City of Fremantle’s claim of carbon neutrality.

While I believe it is unfair to attack the Mayor instead of all the elected members who make decisions for Fremantle, there are valid points in Murray’s column and the City of Fremantle needs to do much better in responding to them.

Here on Freo’s View Murdoch University master student of sustainability and renewable energy Martin Lee has asked pertinent questions, which Brad Pettitt promised to respond to in detail, but he has now decided he won’t be doing that and leave Lee’s questions unanswered. That is not good transparency and public relations.

Murray’s attack on what Brad Pettitt earns should be part of a much bigger picture where some local council CEOs and directors earn as much or more as the Premier of Western Australia. That is ridiculous. Are Mayors also overpaid when they are part of a team of elected members and the others receive less than $40,000 a year while the Freo Mayor gets around $ 160,000? That is something the Minister for Local Government might want to look at.

But transparency is the important issue here and that reminds me that some weeks ago the convenor of the South Fremantle Precinct asked the City of Fremantle for a copy of the consultant engineer’s report on the bad state of repair of the former Civic Centre. This report was quoted on many times as the reason why it was essential for Fremantle to demolish the old building and build a new one at Kings Square, but convenor Sean Hefferon was told that the consultant report could not be found. That is unacceptable!

If the report exists is must have been added as an attachment to council and committee meetings and all elected members must have received one, so surely the report must have been archived. All reports should be kept for future audits, for transparency,  accountability and integrity, so please make it public and available CoF.

So things are not going well in the PR stakes for Fremantle, and the entire Council and administration is to blame for that. It is not right that the other elected members and CEO Phil StJohn are happy for the Mayor to receive all the criticism while they remain silent.

Roel Loopers

HOW CARBON NEUTRAL IS FREMANTLE?

 

I reported about Paul Murray’s attack on the City of Fremantle in the West Australian last week,  and the City’s claim of carbon neutrality, so it is fair to also publish the response from Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt here:

Our first carbon neutral claim was for FY 2009-2010 (1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010) using the Carbon Neutral standard outlined by the “International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives Oceania – Local Governments for Sustainability Oceania (ICLEI Oceania).”
The National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) and Carbon Neutral Program were launched by the Australian Government in 2010 – after we had already started this process.
• “Perenia Carbon”, a consulting group from Sydney, were appointed to verify the City’s carbon neutral status. They provided a verification report in late 2010 which covered the 2009/10 financial year. The verification was at a materiality threshold of 5% (which is a standard practice for a verification report but is not an ‘audit’). This means that only sources of emissions that would account for 5% or more of total emissions are examined (excluding very small sources of emissions which are difficult to account for).

The verification report concluded that: ‘In our opinion, the City of Fremantle have reported GHG emissions, identified GHG emissions mitigation options, and sourced acceptable emission reductions to offset residual emissions in accordance with the ICLEI Oceania’s Carbon Neutrality Framework for Local Government guideline requirements.’

• “Carbon Neutral” is not a term that is restricted to NCOS or any other organisation – therefore self-assessment is perfectly valid and very common.
The City has never claimed to be NCOS certified, and has been very transparent about this. The Council has chosen not to seek formal NCOS certification (which is a relatively expensive process) but rather to spend the equivalent amount of money on other carbon reduction/sustainability actions which provide more direct and practical outcomes.
We have used NCOS standard as a basis for determining our emissions calculations for FY 2017/18 which has confirmed that our self-assessment is in line with best practice.

 

Roel Loopers

WEST AUSTRALIAN ATTACK ON FREMANTLE

Posted in carbon, city of fremantle, community, environment, local government, retail, Uncategorized by freoview on July 17, 2019

 

Dual and strong attacks on Fremantle and Mayor Brad Pettitt in today’s West Australian.

In his column Paul Murray writes that the City of Fremantle has claimed carbon neutral status when that can’t be substantiated, because they did not follow the rules and did not have an independent audit every three years.

This comes, according to Paul Murray, after a Murdoch University student who is doing a masters in renewable and sustainable energy, started asking questions about Fremantle’s claim of carbon neutrality.

Student Martin Lee is quite well known in Freo because he also was very critical about the Kings Square business plan many years ago. Lee was told by the City of Fremantle that it will finally engage a consultant to do their first carbon neutral audit this financial year. That is pretty damaging for the reputation of our council!

The second article is an attack by local Freo traders on Mayor Brad Pettitt, claiming the Mayor is more interested in a moral crusade about social issues and the environment than looking after the City’s economic welfare and declining retail.

While I am often very skeptical about the One Planet priorities at Fremantle Council I believe the elected members have been pro-actively trying to turn Freo’s economy around with the Kings Square redevelopment project, Planning Scheme Amendment 49 that encouraged developers to build residential and commercial medium rise buildings in the CBD, and the new destination marketing launch that is now promoting Fremantle more substantially.

Retailers all over the Perth metro area from Mount Lawley to Leederville, Subiaco, Perth, etc. complain about similar things; parking too expensive or not enough parking bays, antisocial behaviour and homeless people. There is very little local councils can do about homeless people and antisocial behaviour but Fremantle has improved its safety officers program and they are out on the streets every day from early to late.

While I would like to see Fremantle Council focus more on the day to day practical issues our city faces and change some of its priorities I do not believe that traders should be blaming Fremantle Council and its Mayor for the huge issues retailer face all over Australia and the world. There is no doubt that there is a retail and a homelessness crisis, but the power of local governments to tangibly do something about that is very limited.

In that context it is interesting to read that the $ 750 million Garden City extension work has been stopped by the builder.

Roel Loopers

 

SOUTH FREMANTLE LANDFILL SITE SUITABLE FOR SOLAR FARM

Posted in city of fremantle, city planning, environment, local government, solar, Uncategorized by freoview on July 3, 2019

 

The WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulations(DWER) has accepted a report by the Contaminated Sites Auditor that the South Fremantle landfill site is suitable for a proposed Solar Farm by Epuron.

The City of Fremantle and Epuron will soon hold a community information session to explain the details and what will happen next, so stay tuned.

Roel Loopers

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FREMANTLE BANS GAS-FILLED BALLOONS

Posted in city of fremantle, environment, events, festivals, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on June 27, 2019

 

A new policy was endorsed by Fremantle Council last night to ban the release of gas-filled balloons on City property and at City of Fremantle events.

Deflated balloons often end up in the ocean and endanger wildlife, so it is another small step to looking after our environment better.

The ban will become law once it has been gazettet by the State Government in about a month.

Roel Loopers

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