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The committee aims to tap into the knowledge, skills and experiences of community members to provide Council with strategic advice and recommendations about environmental sustainability and management issues.
Representatives will be appointed by Council for 2 years and are chosen based on:
- Diversity of environmental interests and knowledge including biodiversity, natural resource management, sustainable agriculture, environmental sustainability, climate change and environmental education.
- Live, work and/or volunteer within the municipality, or have a demonstrated connection to the municipality through professional, technical or industry alliances.
- Representation comprising a mix of urban and rural members across the geographical spread of the shire.
- A mix of skills and attributes to complement other members of the committee.
- Ability to regularly attend and participate in meetings as scheduled.
Major projects the committee are expected to work on during the next term include:
- the review of the Mitchell Shire Environment Strategy and Sustainable Resource Management Strategy
- biodiversity projects and
- providing advice on key strategic planning matters.
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This report presents a summary of activities undertaken by the Mitchell Environment Advisory Committee (MEAC) for the 2019-2020 financial year and is presented to Council in accordance with the adopted Terms of Reference for the Committee.
The current membership of MEAC was appointed by Council at the 21 May 2018 Council meeting and extended to November 2020 at the 18 May 2020 Council meeting. The elected Committee members for the 2019-2020 committee were;
- Geoff Clarke
- Laura Mundy
- Lesley Dalziel
- Peter Chapman
- Trevor Vienét
- Marla Stone
- Rhiannon Hardwick; (resigned May 2020)
- Ian Julian
- Daniel Young
- Geoff Mabbett (resigned February 2020)
- Michael Watson
- Lauren Hull.
During 2019-2020 MEAC held 4 ordinary meetings and 2 special meetings. This represents approximately 93 hours of volunteer time not including reading, correspondence and travel to meetings and events. Of these meetings, 2 were held online due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Committee adapted well to using this technology.
Two resignations were received from community Committee members during the year, however it was decided not to advertise for new positions due to the complicating factors of COVID-19 and that the Committee still had the required minimum number of members in accordance with the adopted Terms of Reference.
At the 18 May Council meeting a 6 month extension of the current MEAC membership was approved, again, due to difficulties of advertising for new MEAC members during the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with the adopted terms of reference, the committee provided written advice to Council on the following matters:
- Wallara Waters park naming
- Hudson Park Draft Master plaN
- Draft Kilmore Creek Precinct Landscape master plan
- Ryan’s Creek Draft Revitalisation plan
- Beveridge North West PSP.
The information below presents a summary of the Committees activities from July 2019 to June 2020 under broad subject headings:
Waterways and catchment planning
The first meeting for the new financial year started with a guest presentation from Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA) CEO Mr. Chris Norman.
Mr. Norman presented on the projects and programs of the GBCMA and spoke about opportunities for collaboration with Council.
The Committee also wrote to the GBMCA requesting that MEAC is considered as a stakeholder in the consultation phase of the Goulburn Broken Regional Catchment Strategy renewal project. This letter has been acknowledged but consultation delayed due to COVID-19.
Community Environmental Events
MEAC was one of the supporting organisations successful in obtaining a DELWP grant to screen the 2040 sustainability documentary to the Mitchell community.
The film screening was originally to be an outdoor event in Seymour however, due to COVID-19 this was changed to an online viewing attracting 245 participants.
A presentation from Council’s strategic planner and principle strategic planner on the Mitchell Shire planning scheme review was well received. Discussion around the planning scheme review included
- Landscape considerations
- Sustainability in subdivisions
- The use of section 173 agreements
- Sustainable transport options and active transport
- Biodiversity reports
- Erosion control
- Monitoring and review of the goals set in planning policy.
The Committee also received and noted updates on the Rural Land and Activities Review, the Beveridge North West Precinct Structure Plan and the Integrated water Management Plans for the Upper Merri Creek and Kilmore, with 4 committee members attending the community consultation session for the Greening Kilmore - Integrated Water Management Plan in July 2019.
The Wallan Regional Park continued to be a regular feature of MEAC meetings. This is a project the Committee continues to monitor and support.
The Committee also provided input into the preparation of the Kilmore Creek Precinct Landscape Master Plan and the Ryan’s Creek Revitalisation Plan, providing written advice on both draft waterway plans and taking the opportunity to present to Council on the Kilmore Creek Precinct Landscape Masterplan in February 2020.
The development of the inaugural Mitchell Shire Council Environment Policy was a key project for the Committee, including a special meeting to focus on this key strategic document.
General business discussions
A wide variety of topics were raised during MEAC meetings and included in these discussions were:
- Illegal rubbish dumping
- Cat curfews
- Roadside vegetation
- Revegetation opportunities
- Urban forestry
- A Parliamentary Inquiry into The Tackling Climate Change in Victorian Communities.