Tag Archives: Sonja Terpstra

Grant awarded to fight deer

THE VICTORIAN Government has awarded grants of $30,000 to local Landcare groups to continue their work in protecting the local environment.
Part of this year’s grants program is supporting the work of Friends of Warrandyte State Park and Andersons Creek Landcare, both member groups of the Middle Yarra Landcare Network who received a grant of $10,900.
These groups are working to protect the last populations of Variable Billybuttons and Musk Daisy-bush from sambar deer in Warrandyte State Park and Manningham (see story below).
Sonja Terpstra MP, Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region , congratulated the successful recipients of the 2019–20 Victorian Landcare Grants.
“It is projects like these that make a significant contribution to both the environment and the economy,” Ms Terpstra said.
She said the annual grants program delivers “critical funding to Landcare and other environmental volunteer groups who make significant contributions to caring for the environment through on-ground works, education and capacity building projects.”
In a statement to the Diary, she said over the past four years, the Victorian Government has provided “more than $149 million to protect Victoria’s biodiversity, supporting native and threatened species through a range of on-ground initiatives and funding”.
Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said more needs to be done with respect to deer management.
“A large number of residents have contacted me in relation to the huge number of deer in the area, which is rightly being seen as a danger to both drivers and our sensitive environment,” he said.
Mr Smith said he raised the deer issue with the Environment Minister Lily d’Ambrosio 10 weeks ago, but has “yet to receive a response from her acknowledging the growing problem”.
“With the Minister failing to respond to my electorate, and with the Deer Management Strategy update almost eight months late, it is clear this concern has not even made it on to her to-do list.
“Any contribution to our committed volunteers is welcome, but this funding is a drop in the ocean when measured in the context of a problem that is reaching epic proportions.”
Ms Terpstra said the funding focuses on protecting and managing a range of native plants and animals, threatened species and habitats through collaborative planning, increased engagement and alignment of natural resources, scientific, educational and community sectors.
The Christmas Hills Landcare Group also received $19,000 as part of an ongoing program to eradicate woody weeds and to hold a talk to “Learn About Owls” in the Christmas Hills area (see story below).
Landcare is a key component of the Victorian Government’s plan Protecting Victoria’s Environment — Biodiversity 2037, which sets out the strategy to stop the decline of native plants and animals and ensure the environment is healthy, valued and cared for.
Ms Terptra conveyed her congratulations to the grant recipients.
“It is projects like these which make a significant contribution to both the environment and the economy.”
She also said investment in Landcare in the Warrandyte area was important “so that local communities can enjoy our precious natural environment for years to come.”

Landcare focuses on fencing out the deer

By ARTUR MUCHOW,
Middle Yarra Landcare

EACH YEAR local Landcare groups have the opportunity to apply for project funding from the State Government’s Landcare budget.
This year we are fortunate to have received nearly $11,000 in total for a substantial effort to protect specific native plants badly impacted by the growth in deer numbers.
The funding will be invested mainly in fencing material and plants.
This work is designed, in the short term, to limit sambar deer on Parks Victoria land and will enlist the support of Manningham Council.
Deer are browsing, trampling and rubbing threatened indigenous plants and their habitat, causing erosion, preventing natural regeneration and spreading weeds.
In the longer term we await the new Victorian Deer Management Strategy, now reported as due out later this year to address the problem at its source.
Friends of Warrandyte State Park (FOWSP) and Andersons Creek Landcare, member groups of the Middle Yarra Landcare Network (MYLN), will share the funding and co-ordinate their work to build fences and replant
destroyed species.
Between them, the two groups have 250 volunteer members, many of whom have special knowledge and skills to apply across the two Landcare groups and importantly to share with all volunteers.
Together they will co-ordinate on all aspects from planning right through to monitoring outcomes.
This year’s project will also cater for volunteers who enjoy particular activities such as monitoring and plant identification, especially important in this project.
There will be plenty of tasks for those who enjoy being physical, with fence building a big focus.
We are constantly told by volunteers that they love the involvement with Landcare because they are outdoors doing something to contribute to preserving the natural habitat, while meeting new people.
Volunteers of all ages are always needed, regardless of their experience level, so please join in.
Andersons Creek Landcare runs on Wednesdays 10am–12pm and FOWSP every Thursday 9am–12pm.
Contact both groups through Facebook to participate either regularly or occasionally.

Funding for Christmas Hills Landcare projects

By DON EVANS

Christmas Hills Landcare THE CHRISTMAS HILLS Landcare group received $19,000 in grants to allow landowners to protect and respect the local environment.

There are two parts to this project — the first builds on a long-running staged program of woody weed removal in remnant forests on private land in Christmas Hills that commenced in 2011.
To date, this program has treated woody weeds on 50 private properties covering a total of 669 hectares, and this new grant will enable us to treat woody weeds in 99.7 ha of remnant vegetation on 10 properties.
Complementing woody weed control works that Melbourne Water and Parks Victoria are also doing locally, this work will continue to improve the quality of our remnant vegetation, and the function of the habitat corridor it forms connecting Kinglake National Park to the Yarra River corridor and Warrandyte State Park.
This is all for the benefit of the rich diversity of flora and fauna Christmas Hills supports.
The second part to this project also builds on a long-running program of helping local landholders to better understand, and connect to, the natural environment of which they are custodians.
Specifically, this grant will enable local landholders to learn about the range of owl species that are believed to occur in and around Christmas Hills.
It will do this through a flight display of live owls that will give landholders the opportunity to meet some of the local species face-to-face, coupled with information on what landholders can do on their own properties to support owls.

The War on Waste continues

Recycling: increasing costs and new initiatives

OUR ARTICLES on recycling in recent issues of the Diary have met with much interest. Our ongoing look at the issue has garnered feedback from both residents and government alike, but sadly, not the recycling companies themselves.

Local Councils

Increased costs

The separate Manningham and Nillumbik Council meetings on June 25 each made reference to these councils signing deeds of amendment to their contracts with Visy Recycling and SKM Recycling respectively to amend the pricing for delivery of recyclables to these operators.
This comes as a consequence of China’s restrictions on imports of foreign waste, although the specific details in both instances were
confidential and held in closed meetings.

Soft plastics

Manningham does not accept soft plastics in the recycle bin.
Nillumbik Council has confirmed with the Diary that it is accepting soft plastics in a tied bag in the recycle bin, whereas SKM Recycling’s website tells us that no soft plastics are allowed.
We are advised that Nillumbik Shire Council is one of four councils currently participating in a trial project to collect and recycle soft
plastics in kerbside recycling bins.
The remaining Councils that send recycling to SKM do not have this arrangement.
After the bags of soft plastics are collected, they are sorted via manual picking or optical sorting technology, compacted, baled and sent to a plastic recycler either locally or overseas for recycling into a range of items including other soft plastics, street furniture and children’s toys.
This trial is currently being reviewed by the partner councils and Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group in light of data
collected over the past 18 months and the current challenges in Victoria’s recycling industry, and will continue until further notice as the review progresses.

Co-mingling and sorting

Whilst welcoming the initiative to start recycling soft plastic, for this writer, who already sorts waste into
landfill (red), recycling (yellow), garden big stuff (green) and food, ash, lawn clippings, leaves into our own compost bin which makes wonderful nourishment for our garden, the need to further segregate soft plastics became somewhat of a logistical problem.
We tried hanging a plastic bag in the kitchen waste cupboard, but there was no room and it got in the way, so we hung it outside by the bins and the contents blew all over the garden in the next gale!
Councils do not sort rubbish; they pick it up and deliver it.
This means that the sorting of rubbish is done either by the householder at one end of the chain or the recycling company at the other.
Recycling companies are noting that the mixing of glass, paper, aluminium, steel, plastic and cardboard into one yellow bin (co-mingling) can cause difficulties.
Co-mingling of multiple classes of recyclable product in the one bin causes cross contamination, e.g. glass gets into paper and plastic.
Asian countries have not actually banned the import of Australian recyclable waste; they have reduced t h e percentage of allowable
contamination to levels which are very difficult and costly to achieve, so this effectively can be regarded as a ban.
And some of the solutions in the pipeline may require us to further segregate our rubbish into yet more bins in the future.
New initiatives such as burning landfill waste to generate power will require an extra sorting process.
Only 50 per cent of red bin (landfill) contents is burnable, so either the householder will be asked to sort it, or the receiver will have to accept the lot, sort it themselves, and take the remainder to landfill.

Recycling companies

The Diary has made every effort to interview SKM Recycling and Visy Recycling, offering to see how the
sorting process works, report on what happens to the sorted materials, and take photos; however, all our efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

Nillumbik Council

Nillumbik Shire Council had put the creation of a domestic recycling scheme on the agenda at the Australian Local Government
Association conference in Canberra in mid-June, and Council hopes it will be supported and added to a national advocacy campaign.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan said putting items such as recycling on the national agenda would benefit councils and residents across the country.
“Many councils are facing the same issues and we look forward to working collaboratively to address them and seek support from the Federal Government,” Cr Egan said.
“Nillumbik has led the way when it comes to recycling for so many years and developing a domestic industry would mean we would no longer be reliant on China and other counties.”

Victorian Government

The Legislative Council, the upper house of the Victorian State Parliament, is currently in the process of conducting an inquiry into
Recycling and Waste Management.
Sonja Terpstra MP, State Upper House Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, visited Warrandyte last month to inspect the new bridge.
She was impressed with the level of community engagement within Warrandyte and was interested in our coverage last month of recycling
matters, as she is a committee member sitting on the current inquiry process which is ongoing as we go to press.
Speaking as the Member for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, Ms. Terpstra noted that of the 12.9 million tonnes of total waste generated by Victorians in 2016–2017, 4.2 million tonnes was sent to landfill and 8.6 million tonnes was diverted from landfill for recycling.
Of this recovered material, 86 per cent remained in Victoria and only 14 per cent was exported overseas.
2.3 million tonnes of the total waste above was attributable to kerbside collections, and 46 per cent of this was diverted for recycling as a State average, although our local councils are doing much better.
Ms. Terpstra noted that Victorians are excellent recyclers — by and large.
She was keen to stress the low percentage, 14 per cent, of recyclables that were exported and felt that recent publicity concerning the policy
change in China made the problem appear larger than it actually was.
However, this did not take away from the fact that community concern still exists about exporting of recycling to other countries, contamination rates and the like.
Ms Terpstra also drew attention to other initiatives being taken by industry including:

  • •A proposal by Australian Paper to proceed with Victoria’s first energy-from-waste project with plans to use kerbside rubbish to
    help power its Maryvale Paper Mill; the scheme is in fact very similar to — but on a much larger scale than — the initiative being
    taken by Manningham Council to convert tree waste to biochar and further development of that technology to produce power,
    as we reported last month.
  • Advanced Circular Polymers’ $20 million advanced plastics recycling facility in Somerton, which received a $500,000 funding
    boost from the Andrews Labor Government and is set to process 70,000 tonnes of plastic each year.
  • The Government has issued a statewide exemption for local councils to remove the administrative barriers to extend their recycling
    collection contracts to June 2021 and look at future shared contracting of recycling services across multiple municipalities,
    which will help local councils save money in management and procurement costs.
  • The Victorian Budget 2019/20 is investing an additional $35 million to strengthen and diversify Victoria’s waste and recycling industry.
  • Lightweight, single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned across Victoria from November 1, 2019.
  • A complete ban on sending electronic waste to landfill came into effect on July 1.

Ms Terpstra observed shrewdly that we are spending a great deal of time working on how to get rid of rubbish, but perhaps our focus should include looking into why we are creating it in the first place.
Having just purchased a dashcam for my car which arrived in a plastic bag containing a cardboard box containing polystyrene and no less
than six sealed plastic bags containing things such as simple cables and USB adapters, which did not need to be wrapped, I have to question — do we really need all that packaging?

Repairing our throwaway culture

By JO FRENCH

THE INAUGURAL Warrandyte Repair Café went off with a bang, a snip, a screw and a stitch on Sunday, July 7 at the Mechanics’ Institute Hall.
The initiative of the Warrandyte Mechanics’ and Arts Association is only the third Repair Cafe in Melbourne and follows in the footsteps of the movement that started in Amsterdam.
The event was held from 10:30 to 12:30 and organiser David Tynan was encouraged by the number of visitors and repairers that took part in the event.
“A great turnout,” said David as he gestured to the crew of volunteers around the room that had made the day a success.
Jillian McKinn offered her skills in garment repair and upcycling.
“It’s is a wonderful idea for people to learn to repair,” said Jillian, “I loathe the idea of a throwaway society, and I was delighted to be involved.”
Jillian worked alongside Agnes Stuyfbergen and Denise Farran to help Hazel Rice recover an old faded footstool with bright red Burmese woven fabric.
Agnes’ sewing skills were also put to good use teaching a visitor to darn a woollen jumper.
“I showed her how to do one hole,”
said Agnes, “and then she went home to do more.”
“It’s really exciting, so many people came in with a variety of different things.”
Greg Lawrence was working on a few small mechanical repairs and had a happy customer leave with his pressure pump sprayer working again.
“It’s a great idea — on two fronts — it gets people together and helps people out.”
Brian Prewett and Roger Gray worked together on a few appliances.
“Of the three, we fixed a slow cooker but the vacuum cleaner and toaster were simply worn out,” said Brian.
“The Repair Café suits me,” said Roger, “I like the idea of fixing something rather than trashing it.”
Jock Macneish was also on the scene.
“The repair café is a wonderful device for delaying the terrible moment when I realise I will become old and useless,” he said.
“While I can still fix things, I can delude myself,” he said.
The grin that followed was evidence of the fun and companionship shared over the event, and all participants are looking forward to next month’s event.
The next Repair Café will be held Sunday, August 4.

The Bridge is complete: but at what cost?

AS THE QUEEN of the Shire was returned to her rightful place, State Government politicians have come out to applaud the completion of the Warrandyte Bridge.
Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green has officially announced the completion of the project to widen the bridge to three lanes and build a new shared path for pedestrians and cyclists across the Yarra River.
“We’ve worked hard to make this bridge safer while preserving the unique character of the bridge and this area of Warrandyte,” said Ms Green.
She also commended the people of Warrandyte for their patience during the roadworks.
“We appreciate all of the feedback we received from locals who helped shape the look and feel of this bridge and showed great patience while we made these important safety improvements,” she said.
Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, Sonja Terpstra said: “I am really pleased to see the results of this project to make the bridge crossing safer and easier for all local road users.”
So with the politicians marking the project as complete, the Diary thought it was time to ask the authorities concerned with the Bridge Upgrade project whether they regarded it as complete, and what the total cost was.
Nillumbik suggested that we ask VicRoads whether they had any further landscaping works to be done on the north side.
Manningham told us that “Council is working with VicRoads to plan the delivery of the surrounding landscape works” in particular with reference to the Lions Park project, so we take it that there is still more site clearing and landscaping work to be done on the south side by VicRoads.
We asked VicRoads whether they considered the project to be complete, however they had not responded by the time we went to press.
Cost of the Upgrade
The Andrews Labor Government committed $5.1 million funding for the project in March 2016.
In May 2017, we ascertained the contract had been awarded to VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd for $4.265M.
In November 2017, following representations in State Parliament by local member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith, a further $200,000 had been secured for the slip-lane on the south side.
Following extensive delays to the project we asked VicRoads in November 2018 what the final cost of the project would be, in view of rumours circulating that the cost had blown out way beyond the original funding commitments.
At that time, they responded “The total cost of the project will be provided once complete”.
The Diary has continued to ask VicRoads over the past month what the final cost will be, and they have failed to respond to our questions.
We will publish an update if we learn anything further.