Innovation is delivering benefits to the environment and the community.
Parkes Shire Council strives to be a leader in sustainability by developing initiatives and implementing measures into our operations that aim to reduce our carbon footprint and impact on the environment.
Engineering Sustainability Officer
Council created an Engineering Sustainability Officer position in early 2013 to manage environmental and sustainability projects within the community while providing high level expertise and advice to project engineers and construction crews in regard to environment protection and remediation during infrastructure projects.
Council Solar Initiative
As a part of a wider sustainability and economic strategy for both the reduction of its carbon footprint and buffer against rising energy usage charges, Parkes Shire Council conducted a cost benefit analysis of placing solar panels on each of its operation buildings. With a payback period of just over six years based on the market rate for solar procurement at the time, Council engaged a contractor to install solar systems in its five largest energy usage sites. This has completely netted off Council's energy consumption at these sites and through a 60c feed in tariff is actually providing an income stream in some locations. In the foyer of the administration building, a solar edge dashboard displays live and historic performance data for the solar installations.
Renewable Energy Initiatives
Following the success of the installation of solar systems on Council's large buildings, the cost-benefit methodology was applied to other operation sites such as remote sites or high demands sites with pumping and other electrical infrastructure. The output from this analysis is a strategic plan with various initiatives for energy saving activities as well as alternative energy installations, that cover activities over the next five year period. The success of this plan has been to leverage Community Energy Efficiency Program funding from the Federal Government in the order of $150,000 for some of the works.
Solar Communities Program
To provide a low risk and affordable means by which residents and businesses could buy into the solar market, Council ran a tender process for the delivery and installation of solar systems for the community. The selected tender was given access to interested community members via an expression of interest. Once brokered, Council entered into a contract with each community member to provide them with a net metered solar system. The program has had overwhelming community interest with over 600 households and businesses signing on.
Dalton Street Rain Gardens
Parkes Shire Council partnered with Central West Catchment Management Authority to address ongoing flood issues in Dalton Street at the Close Street and Cooke Street intersections. This involved the retrofitting of cut away corners with bio-retention systems. The project involved kerb extensions, sub soil drainage, careful layering of substrate, planting of appropriate plant species and patching of adjoining road.
The site suffered flooding issues in high rainfall events however, project works have ameliorated flood problems and improved public amenity in the area, improving stormwater quality leaving this part of the catchment ultimately protecting downstream receiving systems.
Environmentally Sustainable Eco-Estate
Parkes Shire Council has developed a proposal for a new environmentally sustainable Eco-Estate. The subdivision will provide land for future residential purposes into eighty-six (86) lots and two (2) residual lots for open public space and drainage reserves. The proposal is unique to Parkes in that it embodies a sustainable approach to urban development. The key features of the proposal are the "green" streetscape with water sensitive gardens used to capture, filter and drain stormwater; solar powered street lighting; green open areas to link the cul-de-sacs; plantings carefully selected to encourage wildlife habitation and interpretative signage for inform residents of the facilities for a better appreciation of living sustainably in the built and living environments.
National Tree Day
National Tree Day and Schools Tree Day combine to make Australia's biggest annual community tree-planting event, providing all Australians an opportunity to do something positive for the environment and reconnect with nature. Locally, Parkes Shire Council has partnered with Landcare to annually conduct Tree Day for the local community. The event gets residents involved with hands on activities improving the vegetation at a local site plus provides them with information on local environmental initiatives and a native plant for their residence.
Schools Eco Day
Parkes Shire Council supports Schools Eco Day to encourage local students to learn more about a range of environmental topics. The day concludes with onsite tree planting to enhance the environment and provide a greater understanding for the students of the role native vegetation plays in the landscape.
Bulgandramine Mission Restoration and Revegetation
Council has partnered with Central West Lachlan Landcare, Peak Hill Aboriginal Working Party and CWCMA for this great environmental initiative. The project is to be delivered over two years with total funding of $34,873 being targeted at enhancing the old mission site at Bulgandramine. The project has brought the community together to tackle weeds particularly Weeds of National Significance (WONS) and pest animals at the site and rehabilitating it with native grass, tree and shrub species.
Already there have been two field days showcasing native grass and weed management, there have been cultural days on site as part of local NAIDOC celebrations and there have been three community working bees to improve the site.
The project has also provided a few hours employment each week to a local indigenous project officer, which will continue for the life of the project, ensuring local ownership and regular overseeing of the community activities and site management.
A Town Like Trundle Project
Council has undertaken this project on the site known as "The Willows" implementing a long term program to remove the presence of noxious weeds and enhance the site with native vegetation including grasses, trees and shrubs. Council aims to reduce the weed burden and minimise impacts of weeds spreading to neighbouring properties.
The location has become a demonstration site for weed control techniques particularly the African Boxthorn, a WONS please spell out. There has also been an information session for residents on Tiger Pear and how to control this pest using basal bark control methods.
This has been another project that Council has been able to foster partnerships in the community to achieve should this be
Council has fostered partnerships in the community for other projects linked to Crown Lands, NSW DPI, Landcare, Trundle residents and community groups, Lachlan CMA and local Weed Advisory Committees.
Tullamore Greywater Reuse
Parkes Shire Council completed the construction of a new sewage reticulation scheme and associated sewage treatment plant in the town of Tullamore in 2009. Community consultation with the residents during and after the installation gauged a high amount of interest in the reuse of treated effluent from the new treatment plant within the town for the benefit of the community. The village has reticulated water but is fed from Forbes over a distance of 130km and during hotter periods when demand for water is high, the system could not meet the demand.
As a result, treated water from the new plant has now been diverted to the Tullamore Showground and Council has commissioned an irrigation system to utilise this precious resource and allow the community to keep the amenity of the Showground in premium condition during peak tourism seasons. Council's investment in this project on behalf of the community was in the order of $280,000.
Parkes Shire Council has a heavy focus on the protection and enhancement of roadside vegetation for the protection of important ecological corridors and remnant vegetation. Parkes Shire Council was the first Council in NSW to categorise and assess the value of roadside vegetation within the Shire and create a Roadside Environment Committee approved Roadside Vegetation Management Plan. This year, Council has continued with project works recommended in the plan including fencing and signposting for the protection of threatened areas and re-vegetation projects. Through Landcare, the projects have engaged the community to assist with the vegetation works. In return, the community has gained valuable experience and education benefits.