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

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

 

FREMANTLE MARKETS MANAGEMENT CRITICISED

 

 

Two articles in the West Australian raise concerns about the rents and management of the Fremantle Markets, and that is a real shame because it is one of Freo’s most popular weekend destinations that attracts many thousands of visitors each day of trading.

The West questions if the City of Fremantle is getting maximum value out of its property when the Market operators pocketed some $ 11 million over the last five years and under the contract agreement only paid back $ 3.8 million to the City.

I understand building maintenance is City of Fremantle’s responsibility.

It is alleged in the articles in the West Australian that rents for stallholders in the markets is seven times more than along the Cappuccino Strip, although the markets only trade three weekend days a week and on public holidays. It is claimed that in this time of rent increases in the markets rents along the Cappuccino Strip halved because of the economic downturn.

Some market stall holders, according to the West Australian and Fremantle Herald, claim there is Russian dictatorship management at Femantle Markets after a doughnut trader was evicted for trying to re-start the tenants association, which is denied by markets CEO Natasha Atkinson.

The decision by a previous Fremantle Council to grant an extension of the markets lease to the Murdoch family was highly controversial at the time and created a lot of anger in the community.

The Fremantle Markets are very popular with tourists, visitors from all over Perth, and locals and have in my opinion improved a lot, especially in the food hall. It is the go to attraction in Freo on the weekends, so it is a real shame it is getting so much negative publicity. It is time for Fremantle Council to mediate and support the traders.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE WINTER FESTIVAL PORT IN A STORM

 

Fremantle is well served in the West Australian today with a full page interview with Nicole Lockwood the Chair of the WestPort Taskforce which are looking into the future of Fremantle Port and a new port at Kwinana. Good read!

Freo is also getting a wrap about the new winter Fremantle Festival, but strange that info was not released to local media as well, so I’ll ‘quote’ from The West.

The Fremantle Festival will be held for the first time in its 113 years during winter from July 12-22 and it is called 10 Nights In Port.

Freo festival co-ordinator Kathryn Taylor told the West that they “wanted it to be the harbour in a storm” where the community warmth at the fire. That means people will be able to enjoy glasshouses and relax in a steamy hot bath while enjoying entertainment. Sounds corny and a bit like the swimming pools at the Big Bash 20/20 cricket.

The Hidden Treasures music festival in the West End will grow with Future Treasures at Freo.Social to nurture young bands, while the Festival Club will be in the Moore&Moore cafe in Henry Street.

The late Bathers Beach ceramicist Joan Campbell will be honoured with Fired Up, where people will make small vessels at the Fremantle Arts Centre and taken to Bathers Beach where they are fired in an outdoor kiln.

There is a lot of other stuff and I hope there will be plenty of free things to do and not just ticketed events lower income people can’t afford to enjoy.

Roel Loopers

Comments Off on FREMANTLE WINTER FESTIVAL PORT IN A STORM

BUSINESS OF NEW FREMANTLE CHAMBER CEO IN LIQUIDATION

 

What a strange coincidence that the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday last week announced that its new CEO will be Danicia Quinlan, but in today’s West Australian it is reported that Quinlan and co-owner Michael Taylor have closed their Fromage Artisans in the Perth CBD and called in the liquidators because the business is not financially viable.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE MAYOR WANTS FREO PORT TO STAY

 

The opinion piece by Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt in today’s West Australian about the pros and cons of an outer harbour, and the continuation of Fremantle as a working port is pragmatic and realistic, and without the political spin we are often getting about this important topic.

Brad Pettitt rightly argues that there is no immediate need for an outer harbour in Kwinana and that the environmental damage to Cockburn Sound might well be unacceptable. The Mayor also points out that shifting the port away from Fremantle would “erode Fremantle’s history and identity and lead to a big loss of economic activity…”

I agree with the Freo Mayor that the Perth Freight Link was a flawed plan that did not resolve how to get freight to the port, and that increased container freight by rail, with a new rail bridge across the Swan River, could see Fremantle continue as our much-liked working port.

It is a good idea to move the offloading of imported vehicles to Kwinana, or even Bunbury, and maybe also the scrap metal and live sheep transport.

A new rail bridge and rail line and better use of freight on roads, where we no longer see empty trucks running in and out of the port, and more freight by road during the evenings, are all part of the solution.

Fremantle Ports and the State Government should also become serious about part development of Victoria Quay and prioritise this by changing the buffer zones around the port, so that tourist and residential accommodation will be possible.

Moving the car imports away from Fremantle can be done very fast and does not need large infrastructure investment and the same applies to sheep trade.

I love the working port of Fremantle and would hate to see it become only a port for cruise ships. The container ships are part of Freo’s history and should continue to be so for many more years.

Roel Loopers

NO SPIN PLEASE IN WESTPORT PROCESS

Posted in city of fremantle, environment, fremantle ports, state government, Uncategorized by freoview on December 17, 2018

 

It is often difficult to see the facts through the haze of spin when important community, environmental and political issues are raised, as is the case with the strong lobbying for an alternative port at Kwinana by some community and political groups and by the Town of Kwinana council.

There were strong opinions for and against Roe 8, but it seems that now has been abandoned forever with the road reserve being canceled by the WA Labor government recently.

But when one reads Paul Murray’s column in the weekend West Australian a port at Kwinana would have the most negative and biggest environmental and social issues of Fremantle, Kwinana and Bunbury, with Fremantle Port having the lowest impact assessment.

It seems strange that there has been political interference by Transport Minister Rita Saffioti who, according to Murray’s article, edited the report released by the Westport Taskforce last week. If that is true that should worry us all, as the environmental assessment published by the MUA is no longer part of the report.

It is very clear that the traffic bottleneck in North Fremantle  will hamper any substantial growth of Fremantle Port, so what will the State Government do about that?

The Maritime Union of Australia is strongly opposed to a Kwinana Port, because it would see a loss of jobs, and they say that Fremantle Port could double its container intake and could operate for another 20 years, but at what cost to the traffic flow in effected suburbs?

The Westport Taskforce started with a big bang and the assurance that everyone would be consulted and that it would be a transparent process, so it is essential for the State Government not to interfere with the process and not “edit” any of the findings by the supposedly independent taskforce.

Roel Loopers

BUILD US HERITAGE OF THE FUTURE!

 

An opinion piece in the West Australian by Suzanne Hunt, the WA president of the Architects Institute of Australia, caught my eye because the headline claims that ‘Architects make great cities’ I don’t believe the architectural reality in Perth can sustain that claim.

Ms Hunt wants architects appointed to the Metronet Reference Group and Infrastructure WA, because in her words It would ensure that local planning incorporates the very best examples of good design. Really?!

Suzanne Hunt also writes that Architects advocate for small policy decisions, which create happier, healthier and more connected suburbs, but that is unfortunately not what most of her colleagues are doing.

Drive and walk through the Perth metro area and you’ll see mostly boring, mediocre and visually unattractive multi-storey buildings, which have little regard for the streetscape and public amenity and which do very little to add new public open spaces with trees.

What we have been getting instead are bland concrete boxes which are often too high and bulky. The ‘creativity’ of the architects is putting cladding or screening on facades to hide the boredom of the actual building. That is make-up only that is trying to hide the flaws.

I get it that architects need to make a living and that the developers they design projects for are mostly interested in getting as much profit-making floor space as possible, and that beauty, aesthetics and great design are not  priorities for them, hence many architects compromise and design average buildings, instead of enhancing our suburbs with creative and inspiring new buildings.

That is the reason why so many of us are against suburban infill, not necessarily because of the proposed hight and bulk, but because we want to retain the unique character of older places like Fremantle, and that means we want heritage of the future in outstanding and beautiful buildings, not mediocrity.

Roel Loopers

%d bloggers like this: