Environmental action policy


NOTE - This article was prepared in 2011, and the links to documents may now be outdated; the documents also may not be available.


Clare & Gilbert Valleys Council has a very commendable Environmental Sustainability Policy. 

Click here for the policy.

For residents of Clare & Gilbert Valleys Council, it is also informative to view all the other policies.

http://www.claregilbertvalleys.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=118

Scroll down the list of policies and open the pdf documents to read the contents.


On the Environmental Sustainability Policy, it seems that very little, if any, action has taken place to implement the policy since its approval by Council on 4 August 2010.

At a meeting with Council's CEO on 4 August 2011, I asked a number of questions relating to the policy. 

Here they are:

  • How is "the development of a 5 year Environmental Management Plan (EMP) in accordance with (international standrads)" proceeding?
  • Is the "annual cycle of review" of the EMP being conducted?
  • How much is the "budget allocation" to the EMP? 
  • How are all aspects of the "Policy statement" in terms of measurement, monitoring, and reporting being conducted? Who is doing these?
  • How is Council progressing with its Principles? These principles state that Councillors and Council WILL "apply principles of ecologically sustainable development", Council WILL "lead the community ...", Council WILL "progressively and continually improve its environmental performance and outcomes", Council WILL "set targets and objectives to achieve environmental sustainability".
  • Is Council reporting "on its environmental programs to the Community"?


The Policy also contains many performance-based criteria, such as :

  • Council committing to a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012
  • noting that Council's Strategic Plan 2008-2012 states a "3% annual reduction in energy use"
  • "enhancing biodiversity on all Council managed land"
  • "improve the energy efficiency of buildings - commercial, industrial and residential"


In terms of implementation, "responsibility for implementation of the policy rests with the Elected Members". 

ELECTED MEMBERS!


I came away from that meeting feeling that Council has not committed to the Policy, and it has not made any advance on it whatsoever. Why not?

In my view, the policy is a sham; it is unable to be implemented. There is no point in having a Policy if it can not, or worse will not, be implemented. Indeed, if Council makes a policy, isn't there an obligation to enact it? 

It is the responsibility of Council's senior management to ensure that it does, as it is very likely to be a part of their role specification.


At the time of writing (June 2011), Council does not have the qualified staff to support and execute the policy, and indeed there does not seem to be any management structure in place accordingly. Why is this so?

Council needs a lot of assistance in implementation of its environmental agenda, including raising the profile of sustainability issues in the Council area. Although the policy is centred on Council’s own operational performance, community organisations and qualified individuals could play a role in helping to achieve some of the objectives.

After all, both Council's Strategic Plan and the Environmental Sustainability Policy call for community engagement!

Have your say.

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