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Ararat Rural City prides itself in being pro-active in responding to sustainability issues. Below is a snapshot of some of the current and recent projects.
Ararat Renewable Energy Park
Ararat Rural City is home to one of Victoria’s earliest and largest windfarms, known as the Challicum Hills Windfarm. In supporting this development, Council saw the potential for “Green Jobs”. To provide for future industrial development in the Renewable Energy, Council has created the Ararat Renewable Energy Park. The industrial park has been zoned for developments associated with the renewable energy sector – an initiative which has attracted much attention.
Central Victorian Solar City Project
The $42 million Central Victoria Solar City project is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, the Central Victoria Solar City Consortium and other supporting organisations.
The Central Victoria Solar City project is part of the Australian Government’s $94 million Solar Cities program that offers incentives to local residents and businesses to participate in a trial range of energy efficiency, local energy generation and demand management products and services. The project aims to discover innovative local energy solutions for you, your community and the planet.
Open to 2,500 households and businesses in the Central Victoria Solar City area, this initiative is helping change the way we think about and use energy. Householders and businesses can choose from a menu of energy efficiency services, and local generation and demand management products.
The Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance is a partner in the Central Victorian Solar City Project and, as a member Ararat Rural City is part of the project. Information on the project is available at the Municipal Office or at the centralvictoriasolarcity website.
“Grow Me the Money” Business Campaign
“Grow Me the Money” is a 12 month online program offered by VECCI designed to help small-to-medium sized businesses to become more sustainable and save money. Visit the “Grow Me the Money” website.
Waste Timber to Energy Project
Ararat Rural City Council and the Grampians Regional Waste Management Group are investigating ways to reduce waste going to landfill, increase recycling and reduce Council’s energy use. Wood waste (demolition timber, old pallets, furniture, etc.) diverted from landfill and used to generate energy use is seen as a practical way to achieve these goals.
Around 20% of all material being sent to landfill from the Ararat Transfer Station is wood waste. Buried in landfill, this material breaks down into methane that is a 21 times more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Council is currently trialling a gasifier unit running on chipped wood waste diverted from landfill. A gasifier burns wood under low oxygen conditions and produces wood gas which can run gas engines to generate power.
If the current trial proves successful a larger unit could be installed at the Ararat YMCA to supplement pool heating and supply electricity for the building.
Small Scale Waste to Energy Study
Ararat Rural City Council and the Grampians Regional Waste Management Group (GRWMG) are looking for alternatives to landfill for the disposal of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). Emissions from waste currently disposed of in landfill have been estimated by Cities for Climate Protection to be approximately 6,000 tonnes CO2 per annum.
This project is evaluating the available technologies that could be both an alternative waste disposal system and use locally grown biomass to produce renewable energy. For Council there are a number of distinct advantages of waste to energy systems. The initial target for the project is a system to dispose of 8,000 tonnes of MSW and 4,000 tonnes of biomass to produce approximately 7,500,000 KWh’s of electricity. This could supply over 1,000 homes.
Caledonian Industrial Court (Water Re-Use)
Caledonian Court is Ararat's latest environmentally friendly Industrial Estate. Caledonian Court has its own unique reticulated rainwater collection system, which will enable businesses that establish a presence in the new industrial estate to capitalize on water runoff from their buildings. For more information on Caledonian Industrial Court click here.
Environmental Sustainability Strategy
Council has recently completed this strategy, which provides an overview of Council’s role in Environmental Sustainability. The Environmental Sustainability Strategy reviews and incorporates existing policies and plans as well as identifying strategies and actions not included in other plans/strategies. The Strategy involves the community in determining future sustainability directions for our municipality by identifying environmental sustainability key priorities.
It contains actions for which Council is directly responsible or can influence (partnerships, education) and establishes a statutory Environmental Sustainability Advisory Group (ESAG) who developed the strategy and who will oversee its implementation and its continual review. The ESAG will play a continuing role as an advisory group to Council, acting as a referral group to council on environmental sustainability issues and referring concerns or making submissions to council on their concerns.
The Strategy identifies a process for implementing the priorities identified.
Greenhouse Action Plan
Ararat Rural City is committed to and has been recognised for its environmental and greenhouse initiatives.
Through the development of the Greenhouse Action Plan, Council has made a further commitment to a wide ranging program that aims to reduce Council’s emissions to 20 per cent below 2001-02 emissions levels and community emissions across the municipality to 10 per cent below 1996 emissions levels by 2010.
As part of this commitment, Council has been an active member of the Cities for Climate Protection program and the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance and recently joined the Wimmera Mallee Sustainability Alliance.
Council has completed an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. Using this baseline data, a range of actions have been identified to achieve the two greenhouse reduction goals, including:
- conducting energy audits for Council and community buildings
- investigating alternative vehicle fleet options and fuel sources
- assessing public lighting requirements and energy efficient globe technologies
- increasing community awareness of the greenhouse effect and the benefits of energy efficiency
- utilising carbon sequestration (ie tree planting) to reduce greenhouse emissions
- reducing waste going to landfill and increasing recycling
- encouraging expansion of the renewable energy sector
Ararat Rural City continues to champion renewable energy sources in its bid to reduce greenhouse gas reductions.
Among its raft of programs and initiatives is a waste management strategy and an enduring commitment to purchasing ‘green’ wherever possible. The Council communicates and works with community-based environmental advisory groups and strives to ensure the community is educated about climate protection initiatives.