Q and A for climate emergency community forum

The following questions were asked by community members at Council’s Climate Emergency Community Forum - Session 1 held on 13 May 2020. Answers were prepared by Council officers following the event.


Energy and emissions questions

Question: Is Council considering running a program to encourage and enable larger electricity users in the commercial and industrial sector to switch to using renewable energy?

Answer: Council already runs programs to encourage commercial and industrial users to install onsite renewable energy with rooftop solar. These programs are called Solar for businesses and ‘Green loans’ or Environmental Upgrade Finance . We are also exploring options to facilitate a bulk purchase of offsite renewable energy for interested participants.  All business owners can access a wide range of advice and support by joining the Sustainable Business Network.  Read more about our business programs.


Question: Does Council currently have a program (or are they considering running a program) that encourages and enables apartment blocks to replace their gas hot water system with photovoltaic or solar hot water?

Answer: Council provides advice and support to Owners Corporations to help them to access renewable energy.  This can include assistance with estimating payback periods for the cost of replacing gas hot water systems.  However, any capital costs to upgrade the building is the responsibility of the Owners Corporation. Read about our solar for apartment blocks program.


Question: The installation of solar panels and batteries in schools has great opportunities for energy efficiency and education. What can Council do to encourage and enable this with schools in the municipality?

Answer: Council funds the Port Phillip EcoCentre to work directly with schools.  The EcoCentre delivers the Resource Smart program and a number of student sustainability programs. In line with best practice, energy use reduction is encouraged before the installation of roof top solar. If you are interested in a Solar installation at your school, talk to your school council.  State schools can also seek advice from the Department of Education. 


Question: Does Council currently have a program (or considering running a program) to encourage and enable solar photovoltaic energy sharing in apartment blocks?

Answer: Yes, seeking a partnership to test and increase the uptake of energy sharing platforms is a commitment in Council’s Act and Adapt: Sustainable Environment Strategy.  This work has begun with an initial information session for apartment dwellers held in February 2020. 


Question: Is Council considering increasing pet registration fees for dogs that can be used to offset the greenhouse gas emissions generated by pet ownership in the City of Port Phillip?

Answer: The calculation of emissions related to a pet (dog, cat or other) vary considerably on a wide range of factors, situations and lifestyles.  To implement an offset program linked to dog registration would be extremely complicated and costly to administer. The Council currently has no plans to implement a greenhouse gas offset program that is linked to dog registrations.

Question: If flights are not included in the greenhouse gas emissions profile of the local community, where are they measured?

Answer: The City of Port Phillip Emissions Total for 2017 does not include the emissions related to airline travel. These emissions are recorded at the location of the fuel usage which is dominated (in Victoria) by Tullamarine Airport in the City of Hume. Tullamarine Airport has greater annual emissions (2.30 Mt CO2e) than the entire City of Port Phillip (2.08 Mt CO2e) and the City of Hume is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in metropolitan Melbourne at 5.31 Mt CO2e. If you are interested in learning about the emissions impact of a typical City of Port Phillip resident including flights, you can read our Ecological Footprint Report.

Question: Is it possible for Council to measure community greenhouse gas emissions and any changes in these emissions in the future? If so, how can this be done?

Answer: Yes, Council has previously published an estimated Community Inventory that was used to support the development of Council’s community sustainability programs.  This has since been updated to 2017 data in the ‘snapshot’ tool. Information is on our website. Over time this data will be updated. 

Question: How is our community going to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 through sustainable design strategy goals if some buildings (like schools) are exempt from the planning application process?

Answer: Although Council can't enforce Planning Scheme requirements where developments are exempt, Council regularly advocates for good design outcomes for all developments within the City. Council has strong and productive relationships with the Victorian Government and the new schools built in recent years, including partnering with the Victorian Government to deliver integrated kindergarten and community facilities at South Melbourne Primary.


Question: Does Council have a plan and target for transitioning council-owned buildings away from using gas energy?

Answer:Yes, Action 14 of Act and Adapt Sustainable Environment Strategy 2018-28 commits Council to where viable, progressively convert Council building to be fully electric power through maintenance and renewal programs. Gas hot water systems in some buildings have already been replaced with electric heat pumps and work is in progress to further reduce gas use and remove gas connections from buildings. This will progress over a number of years as buildings are upgraded.


Question: Do we know the energy usage comparison between residents and businesses in the City of Port Phillip?

Answer: Yes, you can read the energy usage comparison between residential, industrial and commercial properties in the City of Port Phillip can be found on our website.


Question: Has Council set a short term target (eg. the next five years) for greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the community?

Answer: Council set a net zero emissions goal by 2050 to align with the Victorian Government's target and intends to set shorter-term five year goals based on the Victorian Government's targets. This acknowledges that achieving these goals is dependant on action by the Victorian Government in relation to areas such as transport and utility scale renewable energy investment. An announcement by the Victorian Government on their short term targets has taken longer than expected. In the meantime, Council has called for ambitious and timely target setting including in this public letter.


Question: Will the new buildings on JL Murphy Reserve and South Melbourne Life Saving Club be fitted with solar panels?

Answer: South Melbourne Life Saving Club already has solar panels (36kW) on the roof, they are flat and very discreet from the street. The JL Murphy Reserve was constructed as ‘solar ready’ with good orientation and appropriate safe roof access. Solar panels were not installed as part of the building construction, but we will seek additional funding through grants from the Victorian of Federal Governments if they become available.

Communication and engagement questions

Question: Is Council considering including a regular section in Divercity on practical action that residents can take to live sustainably?

Answer: Divercity frequently includes articles that provide sustainability tips and or promote sustainability programs and events.


Question: Where on Council’s website can we find the strategic documents that were mentioned in the forum?

Answer: Sustainability polices are here on our website.


Question: Where on Council’s website can we find information about the solar program for residents on a low income?

Answer: Details are on our Solar for residents web page.


Question: What measures is Council undertaking to ensure the voices of youth are heard in shaping solutions to the climate emergency?

Answer:Young people living in the City of Port Phillip have been very active in engaging with Council. Councillors were impressed by the articulate and passionate presentations by a group of young people that spoke in the Council Chamber about the the school climate strikes and the declaration of a Climate Emergency. When developing the current suite of sustainability policies, young people were invited to participate in the community consultation through Council's Family Youth and Children Department. Council also facilitates the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) which is a committee of young people who want to influence Council decision making and contribute to their community. The YAC forum identified sustainability as a key issue and the committee has worked on a number of direct action and awareness raising activities.  


Question: Has Council considered requiring rate payers in the municipality to provide an email address and communicate with this section of our community via this method regarding sustainable living actions that they can take?

Answer: This has been considered but Council currently communicates with rate payers by mail. Due to privacy reasons we can only email rate payers that have opted in to receive information by subscribing to sustainability newsletters.


Question: How are Indigenous voices being incorporated in this discussion?

Answer: Council have a strong commitment to protecting and promoting Aboriginal culture and heritage. Council engaged with the Boon Wurrung Foundation throughout the development of various strategies and policies including Act and Adapt, Sustainable Environment Strategy and most recently the Biodiversity Study and Action Plan, providing input and suggested actions to deliver in the future.

We recognise that this is an ongoing conversation and Council is open to suggestions from the community on how they feel Indigenous culture, heritage and knowledge can be celebrated and promoted through our programs and in our public spaces.

Budget questions

Several similar questions on the budget have been combined.

Question: Will Council increase spending to support the community to address the Climate Emergency next financial and how can community members who want to advocate for more or less spending on climate programs get involved in budget decision making?

Answer: COVID-19 has resulted in a significant financial impact for Council. Details of the budget challenges have been shared with the community via online budget sessions on 4 May 2020 and 18 May 2020. If you were unable to make these sessions, a recording is available online on Have Your Say Budget 2020/21 page. Council is identifying potential savings and finalising a draft budget for 2020-21 that will be available for community consultation on 17 June 2020. Community members are encouraged to review the draft and provide feedback to help shape Council’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and provide a solid foundation for Port Phillip into the future. To participate in the community consultation, subscribe to the Have Your Say website to receive notifications and updates.


Question: What percentage of Council expenditure is spent on dealing with the climate emergency?

Answer:'Dealing with the Council Emergency' includes direct spending on emissions reduction and also the full suite of programs across the organisation that respond to the challenges of climate change. These programs reduce waste to landfill, protect our assets and support the community to adapt to a changing climate. They also include our street tree and parks planting program to increase greening and water projects that increase access to alternative sources of water and reduce the impact of flooding. The most recent Annual Report in 2019-20 included $6,853,000 spending on these programs out of a total of $223,908,000 expenditure. This is 3.06 percent. The Annual Report is on Council's website.


Question: Council has said they will spend $48 million over 10 years with Act & Adapt. How is this money being allocated?

Answer:The Act and Adapt Strategy allocates the estimated costing over ten years to four Council Plan priorities - A greener, cooler, more liveable City, A City with lower carbon emissions, a City that is adapting and resilient to climate change and a water sensitive city. There is a total of 39 actions listed in the Strategy to be delivered in the four priority areas. You can read these on Council's website. Each year Council publishes an Annual Budget which details the individual initiatives to be delivered in the coming year and an Annual Report confirming actual expenditure.


Question: City of Melbourne has employed a Chief Resilience Officer, Toby Kent, who is proving to be highly effective for the City Of Melbourne. Can Port Phillip City Council hire someone with similar qualifications to guide the organisation in their planning?

Answer: The Chief Resilience Officer position is part of the Resilient Melbourne project. Although this position is hosted by City of Melbourne, this is a collaborative project with input, guidance and support from metropolitan councils, organisations and community groups across Melbourne.The City of Port Phillip is currently a member of Resilient Melbourne for the 19/20 financial year and will continue to work with them to implement projects such as Living Melbourne Metropolitan Urban Forest Strategy. Resilient Melbourne are redeveloping their operating and membership model and will present us with options for continuing our work with them into the future.

Community resilience questions

Question: What support does Council offer vulnerable people in the event of heatwaves? How does Council define ‘vulnerable people’ in this context? How do these people know that Council is able to support them?

Answer: Council has a register of those who are considered vulnerable and will provide services directly to those on this list. Support is also provided to organisations who provide direct care including housing associations and community health programs. Those sleeping rough are visited directly and provided with information on how to stay safe as well as water, and, in the past, movie tickets. The support provided each year is dependent on budget and what direct care organisations request. Council also has the Linking Neighbours program.

Flooding, inundation, erosion questions

Question:What is the current status of the Port Phillip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment?

Answer: The Port Phillip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment is Coordinated by the Victorian Government's Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). The data collection phase is due for completion in July 2020. Read more about the project.


Question: What is within Council's purview with respect to natural events, in particular rising seas and our shoreline exposure?

Answer: Council is committed to reducing the impact sea level rise and erosion will have on our City. But we can't do it alone. We work collaboratively with the Victorian Government and the 10 local Councils around the Bay via the Association of Bayside Municipalities to enhance, advocate for and protect the Bay. This includes minimising impacts from sea level rise and erosion. The Port Phillip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment will provide information about the extent of sea level rise and shoreline exposure in Port Phillip Bay. This information will inform any future adaptation works to reduce the impact of sea level rise. Decisions regarding how we respond to these natural events, will be made in consultation with the community.

Trees and planting questions

Question: What role can the community play in tree planting and increasing vegetation in our local streets?

Answer: There are regular planting days held in collaboration with Earthcare St Kilda, Friends of Elster Creek and Friends of Westgate Park in various locations around the City. Find out more here.


Question: How does Council decide which trees to plant and can the community find out the details of this?

Answer: Find detailed information about tree selection and read our Greening Port Phillip strategy here.


Question: What is Council doing to make our municipality greener?

Answer: There are six actions outlined in Council's Act and Adapt Strategy to support the delivery of a "Greener, cooler, more liveable City”. You can find details on pages 30-32. Highlights and challenges are then shared with the community in Council's Annual Report each year.

To make our municipality greener during 2019-20 we:

  • Planted 1,325 trees and increased permeability on Liardet Street and Farrell Street, Port Melbourne to improve tree health and reduce heat
  • Partnered with local residents to deliver a biodiversity corridor in Danks Street, Albert Park. This included planting indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses and installing nesting boxes which will provide habitat for wildlife
  • Facilitated 28 planting days, where volunteers planted 21,067 indigenous plants in Native Vegetation Areas along the foreshore
  • Installed fencing at Elwood Tea Tree Reserve, Fraser Street Dunes, Point Ormond Reserve and Lagoon Reserve to protect areas of native vegetation
  • Improved the sustainability of buildings across the City by assessing Environmentally Sustainable Design in 212 planning applications and working with developers to change the design and construction of their developments.


Question: What is Council currently doing to encourage and enable planting of trees and other plants on private property? What is it intending to do in future?

Answer: Council regularly delivers workshops and funds the EcoCentre to provide education and workshops to the community. We are currently working with the EcoCentre to develop a factsheet for residents to encourage planting native vegetation and encourage biodiversity on their property.

Council's Environmentally Sustainable Design Policy in the planning scheme includes a category called Urban Ecology that encourages developers to protect and increase vegetation, incorporate indigenous vegetation and food production into landscape design. We are currently working with partners to strengthen these requirements and develop an online tool for developers to demonstrate site coverage of vegetation to support this requirement.


Question: If CO2 is stored by trees, and a large percentage of the land in Port Phillip is owned by residents, why not provide free trees to residents to plant on their properties (both residential and commercial)? Could fruit trees and nut trees be an option that residents could choose from?

Answer: Encouraging the community to increase greening on their own properties provides benefits in relation to urban cooling, biodiversity and amenity. As described in the video shared with forum participants, planting individual trees in our urban environment has only limited carbon storage opportunities per tree. However, in order to support community to' green' their properties we have previously provided free seedlings and seeds to residents that have attended our gardening workshops.


Question: In response to the newly declared climate emergency, are Council officers intending to make recommendations to Councillors to increase the target for tree canopy across the municipality from the current target of 19-21%?

Answer: When Council declared a Climate Emergency, the declaration noted the existing strategies including Act and Adapt which includes the current canopy cover target. At this time in the policy cycle, the role of council officers is to deliver the existing strategies rather than make recommendations.


Question: Is Council able to form more local ‘Friends Groups’ to enable large scale community planting of trees in public spaces as a low cost alternative to planting large numbers of trees to capture carbon?

Answer: Council already collaborates with EarthCare and the Port Phillip EcoCentre to deliver community planting days. They are always looking for volunteers to support planting and other community activities.


Question: What is Council currently doing to enable and encourage more planting on nature strips/verges? Is it planning on doing more in future?

Answer: To support local greening, Council has developed a set of nature strip guidelines that provides advice on what can and cannot be planted and where. Nature strips are our City’s smallest open spaces and it is common for residents to maintain the green space outside their front door. Sometimes this includes residents wanting to improve their nature strip with plantings which needs to be done to accommodate all users including neighbours, pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and our native insects, birds and other wildlife.


Question: Is Council able to replace lawns with other plants that have a greater value in storing CO2?

Answer: Plants absorb carbon but as as shown in the introductory video shared with participants, the number of trees required to have a meaningful offset of community energy use far exceeds the amount of public lawn space available. Also, Council's parks and open spaces are valued by many of our apartment dwelling residents that have limited access to outdoor spaces in their homes. This includes access to lawns for formal sport and informal recreation.


Question: Although 1,325 trees were planted in 2018-19, a number of trees were replacement for trees lost or otherwise unviable. Do you know the net gain of trees in the municipality for that year?

Answer: 800 trees were removed in 2018-19. So there was a net gain of 525 trees.


Question: Is Council intending to implement an ‘adopt a verge’ program, similar to this one impemented in Perth?

Answer: Council isn't intending on implementing this program. However, community members are welcome to use their nature strips for planting. We do have guidelines for nature strips to ensure that you consider safety but encourage you to take the opportunity to improve your street and gain a beautified public frontage to your property.


Question: How are tree planting programs integrated with the urban heat analysis as they are so clearly intertwined?

Answer: Heat and canopy data is used to help identify and prioritise tree planting locations in the City. Other factors such as available road and footpath space, underground services and powerlines also influence where trees can and cannot be planted. Other factors include biodiversity, neighbourhood character and amenity. You can find more information in Council’s Street Tree Planting Program (2017-2022)


Question: Which fake grasses are more environmentally sustainable?

Answer: Natural vegetation is always a more environmentally sustainable option than synthetic options. Council officers don't recommend installing synthetic grass in your residential property as this has negative environmental impacts including increased heat and reduced biodiversity.


Question: Who can we speak to at Council (or elsewhere) to get railway line rehabilitation support?

Answer: VicTrack are responsible for managing the land alongside railway tracks. They have an online portal to accept applications for beautification by local community groups.

Design/planning and development questions

The City of Port Phillip was among the first councils in Victoria to introduce a Planning Policy for Environmentally Sustainable Design. This Policy requires new developments to meet best practice across ten environmental categories.

We are working collaboratively with other councils to update the Environmentally Sustainable Design Policy to strengthen sustainable design requirements for developers and work towards zero emission developments. Read more about the requirements for Sustainable design in the planning process.


Question: Is Council considering loosening heritage protections to allow people to adapt their homes to protect their houses from flooding?

Answer: We value our heritage protections and these are often complementary to our sustainable values. We always seek to take a balanced approach when working with home owners and developers. When retrofitting homes, raising floor levels is one method for protecting homes against flooding, but where this is not practical there are alternative safe ways of maintaining our city’s heritage character while adapting to the impacts of climate change. The City of Brisbane has developed resources for residents and business owners, including wet-proofing, raising electrical equipment and using flood-resilient materials. Council officers are actively working with Melbourne Water to develop similar guidance appropriate to Melbourne homes. As each heritage home is different, Council officers are available to discuss options with home owners.


Question: Is Council able to require that all new buildings in the municipality:install solar panels, install water tanks and are not able to install gas connections through the planning process? What is council doing in this area?

Answer: It's not currently a specific requirement to install solar panels or water tanks or prevent gas connections from being installed.  However, developments must meet a minimum number of points to achieve Environmentally Sustainable Design outcomes, including energy performance and water resources. It is very common to see developments include solar panels and water tanks to gain these points. Have a look at our sustainable design requirements.


Question: What is Council’s view on density versus sustainability in new developments?

Answer: Sustainability and density are not mutually exclusive and density can often lead to positive sustainability outcomes, such as improved transport choices. Where the Planning Scheme deals with conflicting priorities, Council Officers seek to find an appropriate balance that leads to positive community outcomes.


Question: In relation to embodied energy and disposal of materials, what is Council doing to prevent existing buildings being demolished to make way for new ones?

Answer: Council's Environmentally Sustainable Design Planning Policy includes a category on Waste Management, and encourages developers to reduce the extent of demolition of existing buildings. Heritage properties are also protected by Heritage Overlays.


Question: Is Council considering loosening heritage protections to allow people to adapt their homes to protect their houses from flooding?

Answer: We value our heritage protections and these are often complementary to our sustainable values. We always seek to take a balanced approach when working with home owners and developers. Raising floor levels is often the preferred method for protecting homes against flooding, but where this is not practical there are alternative safe ways of maintaining our city’s heritage character while adapting to the impacts of climate change. The City of Brisbane has developed resources for residents and business owners, including wet-proofing, raising electrical equipment and using flood-resilient materials. Council officers are actively working with Melbourne Water to develop similar guidance appropriate to Melbourne homes. As each heritage home is different, Council officers are available to discuss options with home owners.


Question: Why are people who live in homes that fall under a heritage overlay unable to install solar panels that can be seen from the street? Why is sustainability not more important than heritage in this situation?

Answer: A heritage overlay does not necessarily prevent property owners from installing solar panels. If your property is covered by a heritage overlay area and the proposed solar panel system is visible from the street, you will need to apply for a planning permit. Council’s planning, sustainability and heritage officers will then consider the design and placement of the solar panels to minimise the visual impact of the panels. As part of the City of Port Phillip’s commitment towards environmental sustainability the application fee typically associated with obtaining a planning permit is not required for applications to install solar panels.


Question: What are Council’s sustainability requirements for new developments in Fishermans Bend? Are they word leading or best practice?

Answer: The Environmentally Sustainable Design requirements for developments in Fishermans Bend are among the strongest standards in the country. The Planning Scheme requires developments to meet minimum Green Star certification (4 or 5 Star) depending on the type and scale of development. There are also specific requirements for matters such as sustainable transport, energy efficiency, water sensitive urban design and low waste. In addition to this, the Victorian Government has registered the entire Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area (FBURA) for the Green Star Communities tool and it is the largest urban renewal area in Australia to do so. Fishermans Bend is striving for a 6 Star Green Star – Community rating.


Question: Why is so much development being allowed in Fishermans Bend when it's predicted that future sea level rises will put large areas under water?

Answer: In July 2012, the Minister for Planning identified the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area (FBURA) as an urban renewal project of State significance and rezoned the area as Capital City Zone. The City of Port Phillip and City of Melbourne have also been working collaboratively with the Victorian Government and other partners to ensure the standard of development is sustainable and resilient to climate change. The Planning Scheme requires developments be resilient against the impacts of sea level rise and flooding from storm events, including buildings that have increased floor levels and smart detention tanks that capture rainwater during flood events. In the longer term, a bund (levee) will also be built along the Yarra River to help reduce floodwaters from entering Fishermans Bend.


Question: Is there any chance the State government will reduce permeable surface requirements on private property?

Answer: The Victorian Government has not indicated any upcoming changes to permeability requirements for new developments.


Question: What is Council doing to help prevent exhaust carbon, brake dust and rubber from tyres entering waterways through the stormwater system?

Answer: Over the past decade, Council has installed over 200 raingardens across the City, which are designed to capture and filter sediment and pollutants from stormwater before they enter the Bay. The new stormwater harvesting scheme at Alma Park also captures and filters rainwater in addition to reducing Council’s use of drinking water for irrigation. Council also has 16 gross pollutant traps and a large number of litter baskets installed within the drainage system to prevent litter and large items entering the stormwater system.


Question: When will Council be implementing rain gardens in Elwood where there is a high flood risk? I’ve noticed that most of the rain gardens installed in the municipality to date have been in other area.

Answer: Where suitable sites are identified in Elwood they are considered alongside all other suburbs in the City. We are currently constructing raingardens on Southey St, Elwood.Council is committed to delivering Water Sensitive Urban Design projects to reduce the amount of pollution entering Port Phillip Bay. Streetscape raingardens are delivered through a dedicated program of funding and are included in conjunction with other transport and road projects where feasible. Raingardens provide a range of benefits and are designed to improve water quality, replace asphalt and concrete with green surfaces. In some cases, raingardens can contribute a small reduction in localised flooding. Over the past decade, more than 200 raingardens have been delivered across the City. Funding for raingardens is prioritised based on where they provide the greatest benefits, including how much water they will capture and filter.


Question: How can the community demand more sustainable homes, with regards to both renting and buying?

Answer: The property market for both buying and renting is dependent on supply and demand. If renters and buyers prefer the cost saving and comfort benefits of sustainability features then sellers and landlords will be motivated to provide improved properties to maximise their profits.

Research shows that Australian consumers want sustainable homes but are often confused about the terminology used and don’t always feel empowered to ask questions about energy efficiency or solar. There are a range of ratings and tools that can help you assess and compare properties. Details are in this guide published on the Sustainability Victoria website. If a property you are considering isn’t eligible for a rating or you don’t have the resources to pay for an assessment you should take every opportunity to ask lots of questions about current utility costs and appliance ratings to help you make a good decision and to send the message that sustainability is important to consumers.


Question: Is Council considering implementing stormwater harvesting from the Fitzroy Street drain and using this to water Catani Gardens and other gardens along the foreshore?

Answer: Harvesting stormwater from the Fitzroy St drain is one of the options Council is exploring to reduce our potable water use and remove pollutants from our water before it enters the Bay. Other potential opportunities include stormwater harvesting from Shakespeare Grove Main Drain, using the future recycled water from Fishermans Bend, and expanding our use of water from Elsternwick Park.


Question: Is Council considering using permeable surfaces for footpaths across the municipality in future? Is Council considering including this as a requirement in future contracts?

Answer: Council is working to increase permeability across the municipality. This can be achieved through a replacing hard surfaces such as concrete and asphalt with grass and other permeable materials (known as de-paving), using passive irrigation to water plants and trees, and delivering hard infrastructure with permeable materials such as permeable asphalt and pavers. Council delivers permeability improvements through many of our projects and programs, including road and footpath renewal, park upgrades and the Greening Port Phillip and Water Sensitive Urban Design programs. We are investigating suitable permeable materials, such as asphalt, concrete and paving to use more widely in our road and footpath programs.


Question: Is Council considering introducing targets for increasing permeable surfaces across the municipality?

Answer: Council doesn't have any formal adopted targets for increasing permeability. The Act and Adapt Strategy commits Council to 'complete a study of permeability potential for Council land and introduce place-based permeability targets. Embed these standards into our maintenance and construction programs' and to 'Update Council policy and engage with the community to achieve greater permeability on private property'.


Question: Is Council able to monitor the minimum permeable surface requirements of 20% on private property?

Answer: Current data relating to the percentage of impervious surfaces on private property is supplied by Melbourne Water. This data is used for high level monitoring of permeability across each sub-catchment in Port Phillip.


Question: Given the Elsternwick Park Masterplan’s multiple benefits of flood mitigation, less polluted water entering the bay, increased water harvesting for Council's parks and gardens, enhanced biodiversity and a new and spectacular park for the use of residents, why are we hearing that there is discussion of Council withdrawing support?

Answer: In March 2018, Council resolved to support Bayside's Elsternwick Park North project and to commit to co-funding the Urban Forest and Wetland subject to an evidence-based assessment that will deliver:

  1. reduced downstream flooding
  2. improved water quality
  3. improved opportunity and capacity for water harvesting and distribution
  4. improved public amenity
  5. protected and enhanced biodiversity Council officers have been working closely with Bayside City Council to develop the Elsternwick Park Masterplan and continue to form part of the Community Reference Group for this project.

Question: Why does Council require so many off street car parks to be required through the planning process when it is trying to discourage car use? There seems to be a mismatch between planning regulations and desired environmental outcomes in this regard.

Answer: Parking is a complex issue in urban areas. There is a need to balance environmental outcomes with providing adequate facilities for our future communities. In some cases, providing off-street parking within new developments means there is less need for Council to allocate public space to store private vehicles.

Council recognises that the number of parking spaces required in new developments depends on many factors, such as access to public transport, shops and other services. Council's “Move, Connect, Live” Strategy outlines how Council will gather data on current use of parking in different areas and use this to investigate 'parking overlays' to manage car parking by precinct rather than on a site-by-site basis. An example of this is in Fishermans Bend, where planning controls limit the number of parking spaces that can be included in new developments.

Waste questions

Question: There must be an increase in the consumption of single-use plastics (including polystyrene and soft plastics) since COVID-19. Is council considering changing its recycling collection process to better enable local residents to recycle these materials? What are our options for recycling these types of waste?

Answer:There has been a general increase in waste being presented at the kerbside since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are already programs in place to recycle these materials and Council is not considering changing these to include them in a kerbside collection for the following reasons: In regards to soft plastics, no kerbside recycling processor in Victoria is set up to accept these types of materials and residents are encouraged to avoid using and purchasing them in the first instance. If their use cannot be avoided, we encourage you to collect them at home and then bring them into any participating Coles or Woolworths store where they can be placed in a communal bin for collection and recycling by Redcycle. If residents are keen to look at ways to reduce their use of single-use and other plastics further, Plastic Free July offers some great tips and programs to get involved in.


Question: Have there been any changes to the timelines for the implementation of kerbside green waste collection in City of Port Phillip since the COVID-19 situation? When can residents expect this program to be rolled out across our municipality?

Answer: The Victorian Government released its circular economy policy, Recycling Victoria - a new economy in February 2020. One of the targets of this policy is that by 2030, every Victorian household has access to food and garden organic waste recycling services or local composting. To set us up for this transition, Council is launching a food organics and garden organics trial in Elwood in 2020/21 to enable us to engage with our community and test how the roll-out of this type of service could look for our community. Alongside this trial, we are also trialling food waste recycling options for high-rise apartment complexes, and we have our Green Cone subsidy program for residents outside these trial areas who still wish to recycle food waste at home. The City of Port Phillip has a unique and diverse community with a mix of housing types. It is important for us to trial things first to ensure that when it comes time to offer our residents any new services, they are going to be the best fit for us, and not a one-size-must-fit all. Our message is always to avoid food waste where possible first.

Question:Does Council have any plans for collecting and recycling cigarette butts, considering the impact that they have on our local environment?

Answer: While cigarette butts can be recycled, this can be a costly disposal method and there is no processor who recycles cigarette butts within Australia. Instead Council is working to keep our environment, especially our waterways, free of cigarette butts with regular street and beach cleaning services, appropriately placed litter bins and cigarette butt receptacles, by targeting litterers with education, including through our Summer in the City Summer Rangers program, and enforcement where necessary.


Question: Does Council have any plans to include clothing/textile waste in its future strategies for managing waste locally?

Answer: Council encourages our community to responsibly reuse pre-loved clothing and other textiles in good condition by sharing, selling or donating quality used goods. Our Guidelines to Prepare a Waste Management Plan promote the inclusion of charity collection bins in all new apartment complex developments to make donating goods easier for people living in apartment buildings. Clothing and textiles that aren't suitable for donation to charity can be recycled at Council's Resource Recovery Centre or at H&M and Zara stores, or picked up for a fee by Manrags. You could also get creative and turn your worn out clothes and bed sheets into Boomerang Bags, a rag rug or simply cut them up to use for cleaning around your home.


Question: Is there anything that Council can do to encourage the implementation of a container deposit scheme in Victoria?

Answer: The great news is that after much advocacy from community, not-for-profit and local government, including City of Port Phillip, the State Government has announced it will introduce a container deposit scheme in Victoria by 2022/23. Council will use opportunities to consult on the design of the scheme to continue to advocate for a scheme that works best for our community.


Question: Will Council be implementing a separate scheme for the collection of glass and e-waste, similar to Bayside City Council?

Answer: As part of the Victorian Government’s circular economy policy, Recycling Victoria - a new economy, by 2027, all Victorians will have a new glass bin, or access to glass services. Council has begun two glass recycling trials in our municipality; a kerbside glass recycling trial in Garden City, and communal glass recycling trials in selected parks around South Melbourne and Albert Park - all of which are going very well! The City of Port Phillip is a unique and diverse community with a mix of housing types. It is important for us to trial things first to ensure that when it comes time to offer our residents any new services, they are going to be the best fit for us.

In regards to e-waste, there are a range of services available for free e-waste disposal within the City of Port Phillip, including through Council's Resource Recovery Centre, hard rubbish collection, and at Port Melbourne Library and St Kilda Library. Please note that e-waste drop offs at Port Melbourne Library and St Kilda Library are unavailable until further notice due to Covid-19. Selected types of electronic waste can also be disposed of for free at the following stores:

  • Aldi: Batteries
  • Australia Post: Printer cartridges
  • Office Choice: Printer cartridges
  • Officeworks (up to 5 items): IT equipment, mobile phones, printer cartridges, CDs
  • Optus: Mobile phones
  • Telstra: Mobile phones
  • Salvation Army: Mobile phones
  • Vodafone: Mobile phones

In 2019, the Victorian Government banned all e-waste from landfill, and it is important our community access these recycling services. Find out more information about recycling e-waste.


Question: Does council have any plans to improve the application process for people living in apartment blocks to purchase and install council-subsidised Green Cones? Are you intending to share the stories of other apartment-dwelling residents who are using Green Cones successfully in their blocks on your website?

Answer: We are currently working with our Green Cone partner, Compost Revolution, to streamline the application process for our apartment buildings to purchase and install a green cone. This includes a review of the information we require from each apartment building as part of their application, and we are exploring ways to update the ordering process through the Compost Revolution website.

We also want to help each apartment building promote their green cones to their residents, and are currently developing a poster that can be placed in shared spaces (including notice boards and lifts) in addition to some signage that can be placed on the green cone to help everyone use it correctly.


Question:Why is Council subsidising Green Cones but not worm farms?

Answer: Council’s Don’t Waste It! Waste Management Strategy has set a strong diversion target for food waste, aiming to divert 50% of food waste from our landfill bins by 2028. The Waste Futures team assessed a large range of home composting options and found that the green cone is the only composting system that would enable us to reach our 2028 target. Unlike worm farms, our green cone is not limited in the types of food it accepts, and is able to process all food types including meat, dairy products, citrus and expired products.

Discounted worm farms are still able to be purchased from the Compost Revolution website but they are not subsidised by Council.


Question: Food waste has been identified a top ten issue by Project Drawdown in climate emissions. How can Council help to reduce waste in general, but especially food waste?

Answer: Council's Don’t Waste It! Waste Management Strategy has placed a strong focus on food waste as a priority area for our households and our Council and commercial buildings.

In late 2019, St Kilda Town Hall transitioned from our 16 worm farms to a holistic food waste collection service. This decision was made to enable us to increase the types of food that both Council and event staff were able to place in our food waste bins, increasing our landfill diversion. The transition also allowed us to rehome our worm farms to a range of our early learning and community centres, to support their waste reduction efforts. In addition to the worm farms, we are continuing to support the composting efforts of our community through our green cone subsidy. The green cone is an in-ground solar composting system that breaks down food waste using solar radiation and soil microorganisms, returning the nutrients directly into the surrounding soil. As part of the green cone subsidy, each green cone is sent out with a meal planner and shopping list to support residents in reducing the overall quantity of food waste they are generating. More information on the green cone subsidy can be found on the Sustainable Port Phillip website, or you can see the green cones in action at the Port Phillip Eco Centre. Later on this year we will also be launching our Elwood Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) trial. Running over eight-months, the trial will involve 500 residential properties and will help us monitor the uptake of a third bin for FOGO and gain some valuable feedback from our residents in relation to their experience using their FOGO bin. Whilst the Elwood FOGO trial is largely focused on our residential properties, we are also in the process of developing a program targeting our high-rise apartment buildings. The Food to Farm program will look at trialling various food waste diversion options to assess viable options for our high-rise apartment buildings. Keep an eye out for more exciting information on this program! Finally, whilst home composting and food waste collection services are important processes to divert our food waste from landfill, our first priority needs to be to avoid generating unnecessary food waste.


Question: There is a huge push for investment in so-called ‘Waste to Energy’. How can we ensure that there isn't a swap based on false sustainability assumptions?

Answer:Council is committed to investigating options for advanced waste processing (AWP) to meet both its strategic commitments and the community’s demand for improved sustainability in waste management. AWP encompasses a broad range of solutions from simple organics processing and mechanical sorting to full thermal treatment and energy recovery. In pursuing these solutions Council is mindful that consideration for the overall cost/benefit of these technologies needs to be balanced against any direct or quick wins that any one technology may offer. To ensure this is achieved, Council officers are using an outcomes based approached when assessing AWP options. Specifically viable solutions must:

  1. Provide maximum resource recovery (highest resource recovery before thermal treatment or landfill)

  2. Work best towards achieving Council’s Don’t Waste It! strategy targets (100% diversion by 2028) to respect community expectations

  3. Minimise, as much as possible, the logistic impact (and therefore cost impact) on collection services

  4. Provide the overall best value (fiscal) option to Council

  5. Promote Circular Economy principles

  6. Limit Carbon/Greenhouse gas emissions generated from the process

  7. Must not incentivise volume of waste (i.e. create a need to ‘feed the machine’).

Council is continuing to work on collaborative solutions with other local governments to ensure a thorough assessment of options and great outcomes for the community.

Divestment, procurement and Council process questions

Question: Is council intending to review its procurement policies for contractors and cease working with companies that are engaged in fossil fuel industries?

Answer: Council's Procurement Policy requires contractors to report their exposure to the fossil fuel industry during the tender process. This information reduces their score in the Corporate Social Responsibility criteria which will impact their ability to win the contract. There is no plan to change the Procurement Policy to exclude companies that are exposed to the fossil fuel industry as Council also seeks ‘best value’ from procurement which includes price and quality along with sustainability.


Question: We don’t have a few years to start making changes to reduce our impact on climate change – it’s happening now. Why can’t council act quicker on this emergency?

Answer: Council is acting quickly to reduce its own emissions to net zero by next financial year. We encourage the community to also act quickly and have planned these Climate Emergency forums to assist the community to identify changes that they can make now to reduce their impact on climate change.

Biodiversity questions

Question: Will Council’s new biodiversity plan embrace support for the Elsternwick Park Master Plan?

Answer:The biodiversity action plan recognises that plants and animals are not confined by municipal boundaries and Council is committed to collaborating with other organisations (local government, Parks Victoria, Vic Track, Melbourne Water) to support enhancing the natural environment to support biodiverse environments. Council officers have been working closely with Bayside City Council to develop the Elsternwick Park Masterplan and continue to form part of the Community Reference Group for this project.

Transport questions

Question: Is Council moving its own fleet of vehicles over to electric vehicles?

Answer: Council is progressively changing our fleet of vehicles over to electric and hybrid vehicles and is installing charging stations in our buildings to enable this. We plan to progressively increase the amount of these vehicles in our fleet as more models become available in the Australian market and vehicle costs decrease.

Our fleet also includes electric bikes for officers to use for work travel. Walking, bike riding and public transport use for work-related travel are encouraged where practical for staff.


Question: Is there a role for Council in encouraging electric vehicle technology and research at the old GMH plant in Fishermans Bend?

Answer: The old GMH plant is located in the City of Melbourne jurisdiction of Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area (FBURA), not the City of Port Phillip.


Question: Has Council considered encouraging and enabling residents to purchase and use only low emissions vehicles (EV, smaller engine size, etc)

Answer: Council has committed to 'Support the uptake of electric vehicles, including installation of public charging stations and investigation of planning controls to require charging infrastructure in new developments'. We are currently installing two public charging stations at South Melbourne Market. We are also working with companies that deliver charging infrastructure to explore partnerships to roll out more chargers in our car parks and streets. This will be subject to Council's budget processes. Council officers are working with industry partners to create, and share information about Electric Vehicles and the environmental and economic benefits. We’re exploring partnerships with car share companies and electricity distributors. We’re also working on potential changes to planning scheme requirements through an update of our Environmental Sustainable Design Planning Policy.


Question: What is Council’s future plans for installing EV charging stations across the municipality at Council buildings and elsewhere?

Answer: Council is currently installing two public charging stations at South Melbourne Market. We are also working with companies that deliver charging infrastructure to explore partnerships to roll out more chargers in our car parks and streets. This will be subject to Council's budget processes.


Question: With reduced car use during COVID-19 restrictions, is Council considering using this opportunity to narrow roads to further discourage car use in future?

Answer: Council is investigating how we can best support active travel and social distancing through new projects, or fast tracking existing projects, and advocating to State and Federal governments to provide appropriate funding streams to support these projects. This may include road narrowing, along with other ways of making walking and bike riding safer, easier and more attractive choice for our community.


Question: What are bike riders meant to do at the new roundabouts with zebra crossings where the bike lane disappears to avoid being hit by cars?

Answer: The City of Port Phillip has recognised that roundabouts present a risk for pedestrians and bike riders. Council has undertaken to modify existing roundabouts to make them safer with the use of raised zebra crossings on all four legs. These raised crossings help control vehicle speed. The lower speed environment provides bike riders an advantage to take up the full traffic lane safely, rather than be squeezed to the side of a roundabout. Another added benefit for bike riders as a result of raised zebra crossings is that drivers properly assess the traffic situation in more detail, rather than moving quickly through the roundabout.


Question: Does Council offer any financial incentives for low income residents to purchase EVs?

Answer: Council does not currently offer financial incentives for low income residents to purchase Electric Vehicles powered by renewable energy. However, Council is considering a range of options to reduce the barriers to electric vehicles including partnership opportunities and planning scheme amendments (see above).


Question:Council has a role in advocacy to business and State/Commonwealth governments. What is happening on this front?

Answer: Council recognises that there are constraints on the types of actions it can take without the support of partners. This infographic identifies many of these partnerships:

Question:How have the state and federal governments responded to Council’s letters regarding the climate emergency? How does Council know what difference their communications make?

Answer: Council has just received a response from the Australian Government. Read it here, along with our original letter. A letter from one local government authority will only have limited impact. But as more councils and organisations join the Climate Emergency movement, the calls for action will increase in number and effectiveness.


Other questions

Question: Would Council be interested in supporting programs in schools to help tackle climate change through student leadership and mentoring?

Answer: Council already funds the EcoCentre to deliver in-school programs. Read about ‘Tomorrow’s Leaders for Sustainability’ on their website.


Question: There have been some great community initiatives pop up since the start of the COVID-19 restrictions. Is Council considering working more closely with nascent local businesses to help ensure their ongoing viability?

Answer: Council is considering a range of economic stimulus and support measures for businesses at the Council Meeting on 27 May 2020.  There is also Business Forum scheduled for 2 June  2020 from 2pm-4pm.  Find out more about support for businesses by subscribing to the Sustainable Business Network newsletter or joining the (free) network.


Question: Why wasn't the decking on the new South Melbourne Life Saving Club decking made with recycled plastic rather than timber?

Answer: The timber used for the decking at South Melbourne Life Saving Club is plantation timber that is certified using the Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) scheme or equivalent. As beach goers will often be bare footed, other options such as recycled plastic which tend to be hotter than timber in the warmer months aren’t a practical solution.

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