4.30 pm – 6.00 pm Thursday 08 December 2016


Community Councils and Industry

Craig Wallace – ACT Council of Social Services

Elizabeth Hirst – Belconnen Community Council

Larry O’Loughlin – Conservation Council

Stephen Hodge – Cycling Promotions Fund

Kevin Cox – Gungahlin Community Council

David Denham – Inner South Community Council

Michael Hopkins – Master Builders Association

Chander Khera – Council on the Ageing

Gillian Helvar – Pedal Power

Clare Wall – Planning Institute of Australia

Glenys Patulny – Tuggeranong Community Council

Pat McGinn – Weston Creek Community Council

Mike Reddy – Woden Valley Community Council

ACT Government

Gary Rake – Deputy Director-General, EPSDD (Chair)

Melanie Clarke (minute taker)

Andrew Pedersen – Director, Asset Acceptance, Schools and Active Travel, TCCS

Daniel Iglesias – Director, ACT Parks and Conservation Service, EPSDD

Brian Levine – Fire Management Officer, ACT Parks and Conservation Service, EPSDD

Vanessa Morris – Building Policy, EPSDD

Marcus Sainsbury – Senior Project Officer, Light Rail, TCCS


Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

Adam Hobill – Building Designers Australia

Dorte Ekelund – Director-General, EPSDD (after a short welcome)

Brett Phillips – Executive Director, Planning Delivery, EPSDD

Tony Carmichael – Executive Director, Strategic Planning, EPSDD

Neil Cooper – Manager, Fire, Forests and Roads, ACT Parks and Conservation Service, EPSDD

Barbara Norma – Climate Change Council

1) Welcome & Apologies

The Director-General, Dorte Ekelund, welcomed members and thanked them for their contribution. Ms Ekelund then recorded her apology for the remainder of the meeting as she was required at another official event.

The Deputy Director-General, Gary Rake, then gave an overview of the meeting agenda.

2) Notes and actions from previous meeting – 27 October 2016

Notes and actions were not discussed in full to allow presentations to start before a couple of early departures.

Following on from the previous meeting, David Denham suggested that certifiers could simply tick a box relating to trees on exempt developments. Mr Rake thanked Mr Denham for the suggestion and agreed to look into it.

A summary of action items from the previous meeting is available in Appendix A.

3) Meet and greet a bettong by Jason Cummings, Woodlands and Wetlands Trust

The Woodlands and Wetlands Trust (the Trust) work with the ACT Government on research, communications and community outreach. They manage the Jerrabomberra Wetlands and Mulligans Flat.

Jerrabomberra Wetlands

Mr Cummings said Jerrabomberra Wetlands will be more actively used as Eastlake develops and they are working closely with LDA on that. The wetlands will also be more connected with Kingston Foreshore as the area grows.

A web cam which takes photos every time a bird goes past is available for people to view on the Jerrabomberra Wetlands website which is jerrabomberrawetlands.org.au.

Jerrabomberra Wetlands has been involved in research to monitor the bird Latham’s Snipe which breeds in Japan and flies to south eastern Australia when it gets cold, to feed, get fat and return.

There are currently more than 30 birds monitored in this research. The Trust has funding for GPS trackers which they will fit to four birds and track them back to Japan. This research shows the important ecological factors for their travel but also the importance of Jerrabomberra Wetlands on an international level.

Mulligans Flat

Mulligans Flat Woodlands Sanctuary (the Sanctuary) has a predator proof fence which keeps native animals in and predators, such as foxes and cats, out. Native mice are being reintroduced into the Sanctuary and quolls, curlews and bettongs have already been successfully reintroduced. People have the opportunity to see these nocturnal animals on twilight tours.

The Trust has two ambassador bettongs who live at ANU by night but are used for education through the day. Emily Belton showcased an ambassador bettong.

Mr Cummings said the Trust will expand the Sanctuary behind Throsby and they are looking at building a learning centre at this location. It is currently at the planning stage and they are looking for investors and partner organisations.

Member’s comments

Glenys Patulny asked if the present bettong would be released into the wild. Mr Cummings said these individuals would remain ambassador bettongs and wouldn’t be released.

Pat McGinn asked how many animals they would have in Mulligans Flat. Mr Cummings was not sure how many were sustainable but the plan is also to introduce native animals into the wild.

Ms Patulny asked about Latham’s Snipe – checking if they are tracking the same ones. MrCummings explained they are, in conjunction with other organisations internationally and within Australia, and they follow animal welfare rules around tracking, which is very strict. They need to be a minimum weight.

Mr Cummings also mentioned they were considering using Rosenbergs goannas to control animal populations as a conservation measure.

Chander Khera asked about dogs in Jerrabomberra Wetlands. Mr Cummings explained that they are not allowed, although there is a grey area due to dogs being allowed on cycle paths which cut through the wetlands.

Gillian Helvar asked when we would see positive landscape changes from the reintroduced native animals. MrCummings said in areas with no foxes there are more native animals and he hoped the positive impacts would be observed in just a few years.

4) Fire season awareness by Brian Levine

Mr Levine gave an overview of the fire team which is made up of 40 staff. They have a wide breadth of skills from people with forestry and environment degrees to people who have experience managing wildfire overseas. There is also a 160 strong trained brigade in parks.

The Bushfire Operation Plan (BOP) is used to plan their bushfire mitigation for the year. It was implemented following the 2003 fires.

In the 2016-17 financial year they will do 4,733 kilometres of slashing twice due to rain. The big ticket job is prescribed burning, the majority of which is done in Namadgi National Park.

Community engagement is an important factor of their operations and includes improved web content, email notifications and the use of social media. They also work closely with the Asthma Foundation to share information.

The team gathers fire intelligence to take raw data and convert it into advice on fire behavior – this can be done daily.

The fire management unit uses heavy machinery to manage bushfires and they are now manning the fire towers again. The risk/severity of fire determines whether two or four fire officers are up in the towers.

Mr Levine identified challenges faced by the fire management unit. This includes adapting and focusing on ecological and cultural burns as other options. Smoke management is another challenge which they constantly work to improve. They are working with the University of Melbourne and CSIRO to address this and what its behavior will be like, including factors such as lift, cured grass, wind etc. Climate change and changing outlooks are also a challenge. They change their program depending on weather.

Mr Levine gave an update on the upcoming seasonal outlook. Because our region has seen lots of rain over winter/spring there is a lot of grass fuel. Dry weather predicted for December to February means a short but sharp fire season. They are increasing slashing to help reduce fire spread in grassland.

Member’s comments

Ms Patulny asked if they talk to Landcarers first before burning. Brian said they do and they have a coordinator who is the liaison for that.

Pat McGinn asked:

1.  What happened to the small fire trailers that came in 2003. Daniel Iglesias said they are still in use but they are not tasked with going into the bush.

2.  How the expansion of urban areas is factored in bushfire management and risk.

3.  How building codes are relevant to bushfire management.

The last two questions were answered by Gary Rake who said both were being worked on. The ACT Government is also looking at bushfire prone areas and how we address fire risk and finalising how those are done through a declaration.

Ms Patulny then asked if standards have been relaxed and Mr Rake said they had not.

Elizabeth Hirst asked about the cross-border relationship. Mr Levine said we have good relationships with NSW and Victoria and he, and many of his colleagues, are on national committees. They also share resources, i.e. they have helped directly to the left of our border. Ms Hirst asked about the specific arrangements for cross-border locations like the new Ginninderry. This will be considered in the planning phase.

Clare Wall said there was a small area of a rare orchid on Black Mountain which had previously been burnt in a prescribed burn, asking if they could specifically avoid some small areas to prevent destroying them. Mr Levine said they get that kind of information from ParkCare coordinators and can try to avoid it.

5) Active Travel Office update by Andrew Pedersen

Key agenda items from an active travel advisory group meeting included an update from the city and gateway urban renewal strategy team. They had discussed pedestrian access along Northbourne Avenue. The discussion paper from earlier this year can still be viewed and an update will be provided in 2017 for consultation.

Branding and slogans for active travel are currently being worked on.

There is a new position – the schools transport coordinator which is the government representative with oversight for school safety relating to travel, including parking, walking etc. around schools. This comes from the parliamentary agreement which calls for 20 school crossing coordinators by July 2017. The placement of these coordinators takes into consideration incidents, traffic etc. Schools are being spoken to about what problems they’re facing. They are writing to all schools with an indication of thinking and how they can engage. NSW is being used as a guide for how this can work. A range of solutions are being considered, such as zebra crossings, dragon’s teeth and other infrastructure works. More will be known about the intentions in February.

As part of promotion they are in the process of developing an Active Travel Counts week which is likely to be in March. There will be a callout for industry and community input. They are developing a smart phone app to roll out in March to track people’s movements throughout Active Travel Counts week. This will help provide data for insight into future areas of focus.

Mr Pedersen said as part of a $30 million commitment from government to upgrade paths, there are some small path upgrades but also big ticket bike paths. People are encouraged to to submit concerns to Fix My Street at www.act.gov.au/fixmystreet. There was some discussion on the level of priority Fix My Street reports received.

Member’s comments

Elizabeth Hirst asked if connectivity in Belconnen around development for pedestrians and cyclists was being considered. Mr Pedersen said this will be incorporated in the plan and active travel office is consulted on this.

Ms Helvar asked how active travel infrastructure is incorporated in small developments. Anything that requires approval will. Mr Rake said any form of exempt development needs to meet pre-defined standards.

Ms Helvar also asked whether the schools coordinator would include cycling. Mr Pedersen said it was included.

Mr Khera asked if active travel linked to speed trials. Mr Pedersen said it does.

Ms McGinn asked if tourism is part of their thinking for cycling. Mr Pedersen said it is a future consideration.

Stephen Hodge asked if they have development information at their disposal to plan for active travel, to impose good solutions for pedestrian and bikes. Or do we need to rely on good will of developers? Mr Pedersen said they rely on good will at the moment but they are working on a code. This requires legislation change (i.e. path width for pedestrians and cyclists). They have undertaken to come back to the community and say where opportunities for input are.

Stephen Hodge suggests Mr Pedersen becomes familiar with Stromlo Forest Park Master Plan and to speak with the Chief Minister about cycle tourism.

Standing light rail update from previous action:

Marcus Sainsbury from the light rail team provided an update on the project. At the moment there is a focus on utilities (locating, protecting and relocating them) along the corridor from Gungahlin right through to city. This helps prepare for track work. This is the reason for off peak traffic control for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.

Behind the scenes in Mitchell there is lots of activity – bulk earthworks are completed and they have moved thousands of tons of material and are now expecting the first vehicle to be delivered by the end of 2017.

We will also start to see roadworks along Flemington Road in the Mitchell area. A wide median is making it easier to undertake these works. Some parts of the corridor aren’t very wide, however, so some roadworks will be required and this will take shape over coming months.

Some of the trees along Northbourne Avenue will be removed in coming days. There is a consideration to balance amenity/look alongside making it ready for stops and station areas.