Freo's View

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

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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ONE SMALL STEP CLOSER TO FREMANTLE SOLAR FARM

Posted in city of fremantle, electricity, environment, solar, Uncategorized by freoview on September 10, 2018

 

Plans for the South Fremantle Solar Farm by Epuron Projects Pty Ltd are progressing slowly.

This coming Wednesday the FPOL Committee of Fremantle Council will consider the approval of a business plan for four lots on the former landfill site, and moving toward a 25-year lease, at peppercorn rent.

Discussions between Western Power and Epuron have been going well, but the main hurdle will be to get all the environmental and health approvals for the heavily contaminated site.

Any lease between the City of Fremantle and Epuron is dependent on all the EPA approvals, and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt has made it very clear that unless everything is above board and safe for the community the solar farm won’t proceed.

Options are considered for the City to charge higher than peppercorn rent in the future when Epuron make a significant profit.

This project is still in the early stages and more community consultation will be conducted. There are significant concerns in the South Fremantle community about the health impact on children and adults any disturbance of the toxic soil might have.

Roel Loopers

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ENJOYING SOLAR POWER WITHOUT SOLAR PANELS

Posted in city of fremantle, electricity, solar, Uncategorized by freoview on July 17, 2018

 

I took the info below from Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt’s blog:

Would you like to have access to  locally produced, green, solar energy without having solar panels on your roof?

The RENeW Nexus Participant Trial is entering its first data collection and analysis phase, and are seeking interested parties to join existing participants in the next phase – a peer-to-peer energy trading trial across the City of Fremantle.

This trial will enable participants with renewable energy systems (prosumers) to trade their surplus energy with Fremantle residents who do not own a system (consumers), providing them with a cleaner, more sustainable energy alternative across the network.

As one of the world’s first trials of its kind, participation is an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of the energy transition.

If you own a private residential property within the City of Fremantle LGA and do not own a renewable energy system, you are invited to express your interest by replying to RENeW Nexus <renew.nexus@curtin.edu.au>

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FREMANTLE SMART CITIES PROJECT

Posted in city of fremantle, environment, solar, sustainability, Uncategorized by freoview on May 2, 2018

 

nexus

 

RENeW Nexus is the recently announced Smart Cities Project that will be running in Fremantle supported by Curtin Uni, Murdoch Uni, Synergy, Landcorp, Powerledger, Western Power,  the City of Fremantle, and the Australian Government through the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.

RENeW Nexus is seeking City of Fremantle Residents Expression of Interest in  the project and is after residents who:

Have solar PV and/or a rainwater tank, want to better understand their energy and water consumption and generation, are interested in the future of smart cities.

For more information, and to register your interest now, follow the link:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/renewnexus

A drop-in information session will be held on Friday 18th May 2018 between 14.30 and 18.30, location to be announced. EOI close on 25th May 2018

Contact: renew.nexus@curtin.edu.au

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SOLAR FARM COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Posted in city of fremantle, community, family, health, local government, pollution, solar, Uncategorized by freoview on April 19, 2018

 

The public gallery at the Ordinary Council meeting in North Fremantle last night was packed full with people, many of them families and children with placards.

They were there for the Solar Farm Business Plan item on the agenda, that deals with the proposal for the solar farm on the former heavily contaminated South Fremantle tip site.

Most speakers supported the Solar  Farm but were very worried about possible health implications for the community if the contaminated soil gets disturbed. They wanted to be assured that all possible safeguards would be in place to make sure that the health of their children would not be affected by any work on the site.

One man in his ignorance claimed that Council had underhandedly sneaked the Solar Farm through without public consultation, when in fact this has been on the public record for nearly a decade and the public consultation process will start with the planning application, since that is a legal requirement. Last night’s item was only about starting a business plan.

The unsuccessful recent South Fremantle election candidate thundered “Shame on you council!” for ignoring the consultation process, but that is factually wrong. She must have forgotten that she attended the community consultation meeting in the Townhall organised by the solar farm proponents and she should also know how due process at local government works and that every box has to be ticked under the local government act, and that the Solar Farm proposal was widely reported in the local media.

It is very frustrating to time and time again hear members of the community complain they did not know anything about planning proposals and blame council for their own ignorance, when these plans have been announced on the City’s weekly page in the Herald and reported in the Fremantle Herald, Fremantle Gazette, on Freo’s View, on the CoF website, Facebook and other social media platforms.

To claim that Councillors try to sneak a planning proposal past the community without them noticing it is insulting and laughable, as it would be in contradiction to the Local Government Act. Our elected members are not crooks who do sinister deals the community is left in the dark about!

Mayor Brad Pettitt assured the public gallery that Council would only approve the proposal if it was safe for the community.

The community needs to take ownership and has the onus to inform itself as one cannot realistically expect to receive a letter in the mail for every new plan in the city.

Health issues are extremely important for the Solar Farm proposal and under the Contaminated Sites Register and EPA laws stringent environmental guidelines will have to be adhered to if any soil disturbance is to occur, and we all will make sure that it will be monitored daily! I too live not far from the site and the southerly wind could easily blow contaminated dust here where there is also a primary school.

Roel Loopers

FROM THE FREO FPOL COMMITTEE

 

The Fremantle Council Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee last night approved all, but one, items on the agenda. Some of them will have to go through full council next week before being implemented though.

  • The contract for J Shed between the City of Fremantle and Sunset Venues will be changed for a smaller venue. The Director of City Business explained that is not a planning approval, so the proposed  300 patron tavern might still be stopped when and if Sunset Venues applies for it and for a liquor license.
  • The Solar Farm also got the tick of approval but Councillor Andrew Sullivan said he would have liked to see officers explore the possibility and costs of remediation of the site as it might well be profitable if it could be developed for residential living.
  • The new Precinct Policy was also adopted with Councillor Andrew Sullivan saying he never saw the need for precincts to be managed by the City, as community groups should rise and fall depending on the interest and participation of residents.
  • The contract for Fremantle Oval with the South Fremantle Football Club will also go ahead, so the footy club is getting all their Christmases at once. It appears they have been playing a bit of hard ball with CoF, so I am not sure why we so desperately need the club at the oval as it will not generate any income for the City. Not even the outgoings for power, water, etc. have reached an agreement yet. Councillor Rachel Pemberton was very worried about the big LED sign and said the City should make sure that the SFFC would not put up more of them.

Roel Loopers

 

MORE FROM THE FREMANTLE PLANNING COMMITTEE

 

More from the Fremantle Council Planning Committee:

  • A small bar and deli for 29 Leighton Beach Boulevard in North Fremantle was approved by the City of Fremantle Planning Committee last night after many people spoke for and against it.

One of the main concerns was noise from the alfresco area rising up to the balconies of residents because of the hard surface below.

It is a fair concern that could be addressed if council insisted on noise control, such as carpeting the alfresco area and putting a soft noise reducing top over it and plants around it, but a small amendment only addressed the area of alfresco activity and that it could not expand.

  • The development proposal for a cafe/restaurant next to Frank’s the butcher in Wray Avenue came back to the Planning Committee, after the proponent had taken the plans to the State Administrative Tribunal after they were rejected by council. The committee last night was adamant. that not enough changes had been made and that parking in the very popular hub was already and issue that could not cope with another cafe, so the proposal was rejected again.
  • The Solar Farm on the former tip site in South Fremantle was approved. Concerns about contaminated dust were deemed unnecessary as the site will be monitored while it is largely without control now.

It is a bit of a surprise that people now are concerned about contaminated dust when a solar farm will be built over the surface and no doubt acts as dust reduction and the site will be professionally managed. A very good outcome I believe.

  • Bad acoustics in the North Fremantle Hall is still an issue and the large public gallery which included twenty Curtin University students had to move chairs to the sides to get closer to be able to hear the Councillors and staff. Unacceptable.
  • A rather farcical situation at the start of the meeting when chair Jon Strachan ruled that all public submissions would be heard before the committee deliberated, but he was overruled by his colleagues who wanted the procedure to remain as it is and that the public speaks before each item which is then debated by committee. It means that people who are not interested in other items on the agenda don’t have to sit through the entire meeting, so it is a basic courtesy to the community.

Roel Loopers

 

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INNOVATIVE SOLAR ROAD TRIAL FOR FREMANTLE

 

railless tram

Railless tram with road sensors

Solar Farm

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and Councillors Ingrid Waltham and Adin Lang with South Fremantle Solar Farm proponents

 

Fremantle is more and more becoming a leader in sustainability! Fremantle Council will from July this year start a trial of solar power collection through panels glued onto the road surface.

Stage One of the One Planet trial will be the panels installed along South Terrace including Market Street all the way to the new Solar Farm which will be constructed on the former South Fremantle tip site.

If the first six months are successful the trial area will be expanded to include Carrington and Hampton roads and South Street and Marine Terrace, with further expansion of the solar collection area likely.

The trial will use new wireless Internet of Everything(IoE) technology similar to the railless tram sensors, but instead of supplying energy the large Fremantle panels will collect it. The collected solar power will feed into the new Solar Farm and will supply part of the city’s energy.

Fremantle has been proudly showing its environmental awareness with its carbon neutral credentials for years and is building on that. The new civic centre at Kings Square will have an eight star green rating and the new Cappuccino Strip carpark that just opened on Thursday has solar lights, run off water collection and charging points for electric cars. The solar panels on road surfaces is another brilliant and innovative way of caring for our planet.

Roel Loopers

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