recipe for a liveable sydney - Australian Conservation Foundation

acfonline.org.au

recipe for a liveable sydney - Australian Conservation Foundation

RECIPE FOR A

LIVEABLE SYDNEY

Sydney 1975 and 2002. Thirty years ago we tried business as usual,

now more than ever we need an effective plan.

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY


HOW TO USE THE RECIPE FOR

A LIVEABLE SYDNEY

This Recipe outlines a number of the key ingredients

needed to make Sydney more liveable for Sydneysiders.

To ensure the long term liveability of Sydney for

future generations we need to create a more sustainable

city. That means making sure that the natural systems

on which Sydney depends are protected so that our

community can flourish.

There are a number of downward trends that undermine

Sydney’s reputation as a great place to live. Sydney

is experienced by its residents as hectic, congested,

polluted and expensive while the environmental impact

of Sydney continues to grow.

A liveable city needs to reduce greenhouse emissions so

that climate change won’t reduce our water resources. A

liveable city needs water, biodiversity, housing, transport

and healthy, vibrant and fair communities. It doesn’t

need waste or pollution from cars, desalination plants or

nuclear reactors.

Recently, the House of Representatives Standing

Committee on Environment and Heritage completed

their inquiry into Sustainable Cities. The bi-partisan

committee made recommendations that, if implemented,

will genuinely reduce the environmental impact of our

cities.

This Recipe for a Liveable Sydney is for politicians and

policy makers of all parties involved in federal, state

and local government, for the community and for the

business sector. It connects ideas raised in the Federal

Sustainable Cities report with policies needed for the

implementation of Sydney’s Metropolitan Strategy.

The long term sustainability of Australia’s largest city

needs our focussed attention and commitment to long

term change. We hope this inspires everyone involved in

the planning of Sydney.

ABOUT AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is committed to inspiring people to achieve a healthy environment for

all Australians. For 40 years we have been a strong voice for the environment, promoting solutions through research,

consultation, education and partnerships. We work with the community, business and government to protect, restore and

sustain our environment. In addition to our efforts to protect Australia’s natural environment, we have a dedicated focus on

sustainable solutions for Australia’s built environment.

For more information about our Sustainable Cities work please contact

Kate Noble, ACF’s Building Green Campaigner (03) 9345 1134

k.noble@acfonline.org.au

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The Australian Conservation Foundation acknowledges the traditional owners of the Sydney region and urges all levels of

government to ensure that Indigenous People’s rights are recognised and that they are included in metropolitan planning

decisions.

FROM THE FEDERAL SUSTAINABLE CITIES REPORT

“A vision for sustainability must engage Australians and have meaning – it must close the gap between policy makers and

the lived reality of Australians who will, ultimately, be the practitioners of sustainability principles.”

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage, Sustainable Cities, August 2005.

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION


WHAT GETS MEASURED GETS DONE

Sustainability targets provide us with a map and a

compass to achieve a liveable Sydney. The development

of targets, and the right policies to achieve them, has

the potential to drive innovation and provide a shared

understanding of the challenges Sydney faces.

The recent bi-partisan Sustainable Cities Inquiry, conducted

by the Federal House of Representatives Standing

Committee on Environment and Heritage, recommended

the adoption of a National Sustainability Charter with

targets and a Sustainability Commission to oversee it. Such

arrangements have potential to deliver better resource

productivity and better environmental outcomes. We urge

the Federal Government to adopt these recommendations

that will make Sydney and other Australian cities more

sustainable.

The metropolitan planning for Australia’s largest city should

be guided by clear environmental and social targets so that

we can track our progress. Targets will ensure that we are

responding to environmental and social trends with the

best mix of policies to achieve real benefits. In this Recipe for

a Liveable Sydney, ACF has proposed long term targets to

guide a range of policies as well as identifying some priority

actions that Governments should take over the next 5 years.

These targets are based on the best available scientific

information regarding the environmental limits of the

Sydney basin and minimum targets to deliver social equity

in their implementation.

Sydney needs targets for:

■ Water,

■ Greenhouse emissions,

■ Biodiversity, ■ Pollution,

■ Waste,

■ Housing,

■ Transport, ■ Health,

■ Equity and ■ Community vitality.

Importantly, these targets cannot be met in isolation

– each theme interacts with the others and all of them

have implications for the urban form of Sydney. Transport

decisions that favour cars, for example, can impact

negatively on social disadvantage, greenhouse emissions, air

pollution and health – while at the same time encouraging

sprawling suburbs as the urban form.

Similarly, climate change from greenhouse emissions will

exacerbate water shortages, health problems and threats to

biodiversity in Sydney. Because of this, it makes no sense to

address Sydney’s water shortage with an energy guzzling

desalination plant, because it will contribute to climate

change, which will in turn reduce water supply.

We urge all levels of Government to set long term

sustainability targets and to integrate them across

Government decision-making to guide policy and public

investment.

SUSTAINABLE CITIES REPORT

In August 2005, the Federal House of Representative

Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage

made recommendations to address the sustainability of

Australian cities. We support the Committee’s findings

and recommendations and urge all levels of Government

to adopt them. Highlights of the report include

recommendations to:

■ Establish an Australian Sustainability Charter, and a

Sustainability Commission, to set key national targets for

water, transport, energy, building design and planning,

and encourage a COAG agreement to the charter and its

key targets.

■ Extend the Roads to Recovery program to other modes

of transport as a step toward including sustainability in

the funding criteria, and significantly boost Australian

Government funding for sustainable transport

infrastructure for outer suburbs.

■ Review fringe benefits tax concessions for car use with

a view to removing incentives for greater car use and

extending incentives to other modes of transport.

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

■ Review the tariff policy on four wheel drive vehicles with

a view to increasing the tariff rate on four wheel drive

vehicles, except for primary producers and others with a

legitimate need for four wheel drive capacity.

■ Fund an education campaign as part of the National

Water Initiative to educate the public about the

benefits, economics and safety of using recycled water,

and to investigate the viability of decentralised water

management systems.

■ Mandate disclosure of the energy efficiency and

greenhouse performance of residences at the point of sale

and point of lease.

■ Expand the First Home Owners Grant to $ 10 000 if

environmental features such as solar hot water, rainwater

tanks, and water recycling is installed.

■ Ensure that Government departments and agencies take

steps to make their buildings achieve 5 stars.

■ Double the photovoltaic rebate to encourage the uptake

of photovoltaic systems.

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY


PRIORITY ACTIONS FOR SYDNEY

To achieve sustainability targets Governments at all levels should develop

priority actions for the next 5 years. Three tests apply to each priority action

to ensure a genuine triple bottom line outcome:

■ Will the action deliver genuine environmental outcomes?

■ Will the action deliver positive social outcomes and is it poverty proofed?

■ Is the action a good long term investment?

WATER

Set a target to reduce Sydney’s water

consumption by 50 per cent by 2030, and

as a priority action:

■ Implement policies to meet short term

targets set in the Metropolitan Water

Strategy of 570 GL by 2008, and 550

GL by 2011.

■ Fund a public information campaign to

increase acceptance of recycled water.

■ Invest in water recycling infrastructure

and rainwater tanks for Sydney.

■ Rule out a desalination

plant for Sydney because

it is not cost effective and

will contribute to the climate

change that is

exacerbating water

shortages.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Set a target to reduce greenhouse emissions

by 60 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050, and 20

per cent by 2020, and develop a long term

plan to achieve it. As a priority five year

action:

■ Apply sustainability criteria to all

Government investment and planning

decisions to ensure energy, water, and

transport infrastructure is consistent with

achieving greenhouse reduction targets.

■ Introduce 5 Star ABGR energy efficiency

standards for all new commercial

buildings by 2007.

■ Introduce a Renewable Guarantee

for NSW to require electricity utilities

to purchase 15% of electricity from

renewable energy by 2012 and 25% by

2020 (over and above the MRET target)

to ensure that projects with planning

approval get built.

BIODIVERSITY

Set a biodiversity target for Sydney and

ensure it is protected in both new growth

areas and existing suburbs. As a priority

five year action:

■ Introduce an urban growth boundary and

legally enforceable conservation zones to

protect biodiversity in new and existing

suburbs. The conservation zones should

include all remaining Cumberland Plain

Woodland, and 35 per cent of total land in

growth centres to provide for ecological

function and open space. Ensure the

conservation zones are identified through

an extensive survey and designed to

maximise ecological protection.

■ Map existing native vegetation and

biodiversity at a scale appropriate to

the landscape planning decisions that

local governments and growth centre

authorities will be making (ie 1:4000).

■ Consult with environment groups,

biodiversity experts and landholders in

the development of the Land Release

State Environmental Planning Policy

(SEPP), Local Area Plans, and Precinct

Plans, and ensure biodiversity expertise is

represented in growth centre governance

arrangements.

■ Introduce native vegetation clearing

controls for all high value biodiversity and

remnant Cumberland Plain Woodland on

private land.

TRANSPORT

Set a target to reduce the number

of vehicle kilometres travelled and

a regional and precinct level public

transport target to deliver more buses,

light rail and train carriages, on more

routes, more often. As a five year

priority action:

■ Redirect funding from roads to public

transport and cycling to contribute to

the 60 per cent greenhouse reduction

target by 2050.

■ Increase the public transport trips per

capita by 25 per cent by 2030.

■ Implement policies to achieve Action

for Air targets including the targets to

reduce per capita growth in vehicle

kilometres travelled to zero by 2011,

and reduce total growth in vehicle

kilometres travelled to zero by 2021.

■ Develop a sustainable and active

transport policy and increase

participation of school students in

active transport by

funding a walking

school bus and

bike education

for every school.

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY


COMMUNITY VITALITY

Liveable cities support a creative, vibrant and cohesive

community for current and future generations. To sustain

Sydney well into the future we all need to do our bit to

create resilient communities and to reduce our impact on

the environment.

To encourage householders to reduce their own impact

on the environment through lifestyle changes, ACF

has established a GreenHome community education

program. In 2005 around 700 people have been involved in

GreenHome workshops in different parts of Sydney, from

Bankstown to Parramatta, Rockdale to Castle Hill. Local

residents attend workshops about saving energy and water,

reducing waste, using active transport, sustainable food

and gardens, green shopping and sustainable household

products. The results from the Bankstown program which

included 200 people, resulted in substantial collective

savings including 650 tonnes of greenhouse emissions,

12.75 million litres of water and a 30 per cent reduction in

household waste over one year.

In addition to the workshop program, ACF is pioneering the

internet-based GreenHome Challenge and Eco-calculator

which aims to encourage as many Australians as possible

to reduce greenhouse emissions and the consumption of

water and other resources through sustainable living. Any

one can register by visiting our website www.acfonline.org.

au/greenhome.

In 2003, nine out of ten people surveyed across NSW were

concerned about the environment. 1 While three-quarters

thought that the State Government should be doing more

to protect the environment and almost half believed the

Government should be doing a lot more. 2 By delivering

sustainable infrastructure such as renewable energy, public

transport and recycled water Sydney residents will be able

to significantly improve the sustainability of their lifestyles.

Improvements in household sustainability through

behaviour change need to be complemented by structural

changes to Sydney’s infrastructure, urban form and broader

Government policies.

To develop a vision of Sydney where community aspirations

for sustainability are complemented by Government policy,

ACF held a series of workshops with our members in

Sydney. They held an inspiring vision of the city that Sydney

could become with the right policies. They saw sustainability

as an opportunity to improve their quality of life and the

wellbeing of the community in general.

The vision of the most liveable neighbourhood that came

out of these workshops included closely connected social

and environmental goods. The most liveable neighbourhood

has a mix of ages, cultures and occupations living in a well

planned mix of affordable and accessible housing types. By

accommodating different housing types, people won’t have

to move when age and frailty make them less mobile and

children won’t have to move whole suburbs away when

they leave home. A liveable neighbourhood is a place where

you can safely walk and cycle to work and the local shops,

and where homes and workplaces are more comfortable

and efficient at using energy, water and materials. Public

transport is easy and convenient and neighbourhoods are

not dominated by car traffic. In a liveable neighbourhood

urban bushland is protected, and people can walk the dog

and kids can play in local parks. Workshop participants

wanted to live in neighbourhoods that had local character

with distinct heritage and they expressed the importance of

addressing disadvantage, homelessness and isolation.

While these aspirations may be transferable to other

communities, they are far from abstract. Importantly,

the social and environmental benefits are noticeably

intertwined. Compact, well planned cities lead to better

public transport, less congestion, less commuting time,

lower travel costs, better health outcomes and more time

to spend with family. They also lead to lower greenhouse

emissions, less air pollution and less destruction of urban

biodiversity.

It is crucial that sustainable cities policies and metropolitan

planning make a real difference to people’s lives both now

and in the future. As Australia’s largest city, Sydney should

be an example of international excellence and national pride

when it comes to sustainability.

MAKE SYDNEY PART

OF THE SOLUTION

■ Encourage Sydney residents to register

for the GreenHome Challenge and

eco-calculator. Any one can register by

visiting our website www.acfonline.org.

au/greenhome

■ Apply sustainability criteria to all

government investment and planning

decisions to ensure that infrastructure

such as renewable energy, public

transport and recycled water

complements the efforts of Sydney

residents to reduce their environmental

impact.

■ Involve the community and

non-government organisations as

partners in planning decisions through

active consultation processes.

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION


WATER

Climate change will exacerbate the drought affecting our

cities, and reliable water supply is vital to the wellbeing of

everyone living in Sydney. Saving water and ensuring that

recycled water is safe are the top two strategies that the

people of NSW think will make reducing water use easier. 3

Water is essential to life. Healthy, clean water for drinking,

gardening, recreation and ecosystems is an important part

of any city. Sydney is internationally recognized for the

beauty of its harbour, beaches and waterways and all of this

depends on healthy freshwater and marine environments.

Sydney currently uses more water than it can sustain. At

around 600GL of fresh water each year, Sydney is exceeding

the available yield. Of this, 450GL – which is around 75 per

cent – is lost out to sea when we pump it out through ocean

outfalls. By taking so much water from the Hawkesbury-

Nepean and Shoalhaven river systems we are causing

significant ecological damage. To keep our waterways

healthy, adequate water is needed for environmental flows

to avoid algal blooms caused by the accumulation of water

pollution. If we are to return 100 GL to the river system

as the minimum needed for environmental flows, the

sustainable environmental yield for Sydney would be 500

GL per year. However it is crucial to the security of Sydney’s

water supply that we also take climate change impacts into

account. By 2030, the Water Services Association of Australia

is planning for a 25 per cent decrease in the water supply

to our cities due to changed rainfall patterns and more

evaporation caused by climate change. 4 Over the same time

period, water consumption in Sydney is projected to rise

by another 200GL – a 30 per cent increase. This means the

amount of water the environment can provide for Sydney

will be 375 GL by 2030.

To achieve this sustainable water yield, Sydney will have to

reduce its total water consumption from 600 GL per year

to 375 GL per year by 2030. By setting a 50 per cent water

reduction target and the right policies to achieve it Sydney’s

water resources will be protected.

To achieve the target we need to reduce the water demand

at the household, neighbourhood and metropolitan level

as well as investing in new ways to harvest and recycle our

water resources. Water efficiency of homes can be almost

doubled with the installation water saving devices and

rainwater tanks to create a ‘virtual dam’ from the urban roof

catchment. We fully support the Government commitment

to no new dams – except a virtual dam! By capturing

rainwater for gardening and plumbing, each household will

be demanding less water from our rivers and dams and this

means we won’t need new dams.

At the neighbourhood and metropolitan scale, harvesting

stormwater and treating wastewater has great potential. At

the moment Sydney recycles just 14GL of water each year

which is less than 3% of water used. Urban developments

and industrial facilities should be encouraged to take

advantage of water recycling technology. Water sensitive

garden design can also reduce the amount of water used by

traditional gardening, and better management of watering

times through permanent water

restrictions can encourage long

term water saving practices.

We need long term cost effective

solutions to our urban water crisis.

A desalination plant would be a short

sighted band-aid to our water crisis

because it will contribute to the

climate change that is reducing

our water supply and is

more expensive.

MAKE SYDNEY PART

OF THE SOLUTION

■ Set a 50 per cent water reduction target

to protect Sydney’s water supply by 2030,

and return at least 100 GL to rivers as

environmental flows.

■ Implement policies to meet short term

targets set in the Metropolitan Water

Strategy of 570 GL by 2008, and 550 GL

by 2011.

■ Extend BASIX reduction targets to

existing homes to ensure uptake of

rainwater tanks, water efficiency and

water sensitive urban design.

■ Develop METRIX, the neighbourhood

scale sustainability index, to implement

stormwater harvesting, neighbourhood

scale water recycling and water sensitive

urban design of public space.

■ Invest in water recycling infrastructure

rather than a desalination plant because

it is more cost effective and will not

contribute to climate change.

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY


HEALTH

Liveable cities support the health of residents not only

by protecting a clean environment, but by good planning

which encourages active transport and recreation.

Unfortunately, the way we have planned our ‘car-dependent’

suburbs is having a negative health impact on us in terms

of obesity from inactivity and in terms of air pollution

which is linked to asthma. In the long term, the increase

of greenhouse emissions from cars will also lead to health

impacts associated with climate change. We need to plan

our suburbs for health, and then promote healthy lifestyles

to improve the well being of Sydney-siders.

The health of a city also relies on nearby farms and market

gardens to provide fresh food. If fresh food is transported

long distances to Sydney it contributes to greenhouse

pollution and is more expensive. Around 90 per cent of

Sydney’s fresh food is produced in the Sydney Basin at the

outskirts of our suburbs and this land needs to be protected

for future Sydney residents.

Recent research by population health experts at the

Australian National University found that if we do nothing to

reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the end of this century:

■ 8,000 -15,000 Australians could die every year from

heat-related illnesses, and

■ the dengue transmission zone could reach as far south as

Sydney. 5

While this may seem shocking, it is not too late to turn

the situation around if we act now to reduce greenhouse

emissions. The good news for health is that many of the

actions we need to take to address climate change will also

have other positive health benefits. Walkable, liveable cities

with good public transport and open space for recreation,

encourages more active and healthy lifestyles.

The connection between health and urban planning is

clear - if you live on a freeway, you are four times more

likely to be obese than if you do not live on a freeway.

The NSW Childhood Obesity Summit held in Sydney in

2002 recommended the provision of bicycle paths, public

transport and recreational space to address inactivity. In

addition, if we reduce the number of trips taken by car and

encourage active and public transport instead, we will also

address the causes of air pollution and asthma. Walkable

cities that are planned for social interaction and healthy

active lifestyles also diminish the social isolation that can

exacerbate mental health issues.

MAKE SYDNEY PART

OF THE SOLUTION

■ Set a target to reduce the amount of trips

taken by car and increase participation

in walking and cycling. Reallocate road

funding to active and public transport

infrastructure to achieve the target.

■ Plan for health by protecting agricultural

land for fresh food, ensure transit

oriented development delivers walkable

neighbourhoods with adequate parks and

recreational space.

■ Increase participation of school students

in active transport by funding a walking

school bus and bike education for every

school.

■ Reduce greenhouse emissions by

60 per cent by 2050

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION


GREENHOUSE

In 2005, the Lowy Institute reported that 70 per cent of

Australians are worried about global warming and 46% are

very worried (more so than about global terrorism or illegal

immigration). 6

Sydney is a big greenhouse polluter. This is because the

city has been planned to rely heavily on car travel, and the

majority of buildings waste huge amounts of energy. The

existing infrastructure was not intended to carry such large

amounts of electricity, so supplying new suburbs will be

very expensive without a smarter approach. Turning this

around is not rocket science. All we have to do is make

public transport more convenient, cheaper and faster than

taking the car; make sure buildings use only a fraction of the

energy to be even more comfortable; and install local power

like gas cogeneration and solar panels on every roof. By

making planning decisions to reduce greenhouse pollution

we will have more compact walkable neighbourhoods and

we will be able to shift our road building addiction to really

effective public and community transport.

Sydney’s location near the coast and its current problems

with water shortages make it very vulnerable to climate

change. We can expect more severe storms and sea level rise

to impact especially severely on coastal homes, and a loss in

water resources as changed rainfall patterns will no longer

recharge our dams. This will compound future droughts

meaning that Sydney-siders will have to pay more for fresh

food. Tropical diseases like Dengue fever will become more

likely in Sydney. Climate change will impact on everyone

and every sector of the Australian economy unless we act

now. Fortunately, we already have the solutions - we can

reduce our emissions with clean renewable energy and

energy efficiency.

Commonwealth, state and local governments need to take

urgent action to reduce greenhouse emissions by at least

60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050 to avoid the worst

impacts of climate change. The British Government and the

Californian Government have already set in train a plan to

reduce emissions by 60 per cent and 80 per cent respectively

by 2050.

In July 2005, Premier Bob Carr made a public commitment

to a 60 per cent reduction in NSW greenhouse emissions by

2050. Such a commitment can be delivered through energy

policy which includes emissions trading, energy efficiency,

and renewable energy targets. It is crucial that targets are

high enough to deliver these savings and incorporated into

whole-of-Government decisions and the Metropolitan

planning of Sydney. To encourage the uptake of renewable

energy the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET)

was introduced in 2000, however this has now almost been

filled five years early. In NSW, three approved wind power

projects will not get built, despite being announced by the

NSW government, unless a new market mechanism is

found. Without urgent action, the industry will be forced to

close. A Renewable Guarantee should be introduced so that

electricity retailers are required to purchase energy from

new windfarms in NSW. 7

If we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we

cannot afford to invest in a desalination plant to treat

water. A 500 ML plant would produce 950,000 tonnes of

greenhouse gases per year, and would only delay rather

than fix our water shortage problem. Water efficiency and

water recycling are a more effective solution (see water).

Governments need to assess the full cost of climate change

when investing in public energy, water and transport

infrastructure.

MAKE SYDNEY PART

OF THE SOLUTION

■ Develop a long term plan to reduce

greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent of

1990 levels by 2050 and 20 per cent by

2020.

■ Apply sustainability criteria to all

Government planning and investment

decisions to ensure energy, water, and

transport infrastructure is consistent with

achieving greenhouse reduction targets.

■ Introduce 5 Star ABGR energy efficiency

standards for all new commercial

buildings by 2007.

■ Introduce a Renewable Guarantee

for NSW to require electricity utilities

to purchase 15% of electricity from

renewable energy by 2012 and 25% by

2020 (over and above the MRET target)

to ensure that projects with planning

approval get built.

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY


TRANSPORT

Sydney residents believe that public transport is the third

most important issue for attention by the State Government

now and in ten years’ time, after health and education. 8

Liveable, walkable, well connected cities rely on convenient

transport. When car dependent cities like Sydney become

gridlocked and people spend hours commuting each week

it is not only the environment that suffers. Urban sprawl

means there is often a long distance between where people

live and where people work. The Australia Institute recently

reported that 35 per cent of fathers spend more time

commuting to and from work than the time they spend with

their children. 9

network both in new and existing suburbs. Public private

partnerships for road infrastructure should include a

commitment to improve rather than compete with public

transport.

The NSW State of the Environment report confirms that the

number of vehicle kilometres travelled is increasing 25 per

cent faster than population growth.

Petrol prices are at an all time high, not only due to the war

in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina but due to the long predicted

peak of world oil fields capacity. In a time of rising petrol

prices a greater proportion of the household budget is being

spent on fuel and this means less spending on other goods.

Responding to climate change is another international

influence likely to impact on the price of petrol with some

countries considering a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse

emissions. In the many parts of Sydney where public

transport is not a convenient alternative, car dependence is

further entrenching social disadvantage. The urban sprawl

encouraged by our dependence on cars means the cost of

energy, water and transport infrastructure is greater because

it has to spread further out. In fact large amounts of energy

and water are lost along the cables and pipes before even

getting to where we need it in the suburbs. In addition, car

travel continues to contribute to health conditions caused by

air pollution and inactivity.

To ensure Sydney transport is resilient to international

trends of petrol prices and climate change we need

planning policies that make our cities more compact, and

sustainable transport policies to increase public services

and infrastructure. It is crucial that all levels of government

review current arrangements that undermine investment in

sustainable transport. The recent Sustainable Cities Report

recommended that the Commonwealth Government review

vehicle fringe benefits tax arrangements and import duty

concessions for large 4WD vehicles. The relative proportion

of public spending on roads and public transport should be

reversed to rebalance transport infrastructure priorities.

In Sydney the investment in rail links to the North West

and South West of Sydney, announced as part of the

Metropolitan Strategy, will provide a backbone of public

transport infrastructure needed in new suburbs. However

there is still a need to rectify years of underinvestment in

existing services which has resulted in fewer carriages,

on fewer tracks, less often. Bus-ways, light-rail services

unhindered by road congestion and local community

transport will be needed as feeder services to the rail

MAKE SYDNEY PART

OF THE SOLUTION

■ Set a regional and precinct level public

transport target to deliver more buses,

light rail and train carriages, on more

routes, more often.

■ Increase the public transport trips per

capita by 25 per cent by 2030.

■ Implement policies to achieve Action

for Air targets including the targets to

reduce per capita growth in vehicle

kilometres travelled to zero by 2011, and

reduce total growth in vehicle kilometres

travelled to zero by 2021.

■ Develop a sustainable and active

transport policy and shift funding from

roads to public transport and cycling to

contribute to the 60 per cent greenhouse

reduction target by 2050.

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION


BIODIVERSITY

The Cumberland Plain woodlands surrounding Sydney

have been almost completely destroyed by urban

development since European settlement. While this may

seem an obvious statement, we too often take current

remnant vegetation and biodiversity as the highest

benchmark when considering urban development. This

means that the decisions made by each generation do

not recognise the full significance of Sydney’s remnant

vegetation and biodiversity. Sydney is the fifth most

biodiverse region in Australia and already has 260 species

that are listed as Threatened. Whilst revegetation is

important for extending habitat and wildlife corridors

- restoration and revegetation cannot replace original

biodiversity values. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

Urban parks and natural spaces underpin liveability for

many Sydney residents. Not only are these areas important

for recreation and visual amenity, but they are an important

reminder that the other species inhabiting Sydney are

crucial to the health of our urban ecology – we need to give

other species space.

Urban consolidation does not mean urban encroachment

into natural areas, nor sky-rise developments where

it’s not appropriate – it means providing good quality

urban settlements while protecting natural areas. This is

particularly important in highly urbanised areas such as

Western Sydney where the Cumberland Plain Woodland

plays an important role in protecting the Sydney water

catchment.

To protect Sydney’s quality of life and natural beauty, it is

crucial that metropolitan planning recognises the living

systems on which the urban form impacts. Recently the

NSW Government announced new parklands for Western

Sydney and a commitment to ensuring that 70 per cent of

new urban growth occurs in existing areas. We welcome

these commitments to put boundaries on urban sprawl

and urge the Government to deliver these outcomes with

a legally enforceable urban growth boundary. Furthermore,

legally enforceable policy should protect conservation zones

in existing suburbs to ensure the long-term protection of

all significant native species, species habitats and ecological

communities in the Sydney Basin.

The Metropolitan Strategy will introduce new governance

and referral arrangements to fast track development

approvals that will impact on biodiversity values. It

is crucial that biodiversity expertise is represented in

the governance arrangements for the Growth Centres

Commission, the Land Release Advisory Committee

and in referral arrangements to other government

agencies including the Department of Conservation and

Environment.

Further consultation should be conducted with environment

groups, experts and landholders in the development of the

Land Release State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP),

Local Area Plans, and Precinct Plans. This is particularly

important given the limited process for public appeal

to review the planning decisions of the Growth Centres

Commission – it is even more important to get it right first

time around.

MAKE SYDNEY PART

OF THE SOLUTION

■ Set a biodiversity target for new growth

areas and existing suburbs

■ Introduce an urban growth boundary and

legally enforceable conservation zones to

protect biodiversity in new and existing

suburbs. The conservation zones should

include all remaining Cumberland Plain

Woodland and 35 per cent of total land in

growth centres to provide for ecological

function and open space. Ensure the

conservation zones are identified through

an extensive survey and designed to

maximise ecological protection.

■ Map existing native vegetation and

biodiversity at a scale appropriate to

the landscape planning decisions that

local governments and growth centre

authorities will be making (ie 1:4000).

■ Ensure biodiversity expertise is

represented in the governance

arrangements for the Growth Centres

Commission, the Land Release Advisory

Committee and in referral arrangements

to other government agencies including

the Department of Conservation and

Environment.

■ Consult with environment groups,

biodiversity experts and landholders in

the development of the Land Release

State Environmental Planning Policy

(SEPP), Local Area Plans, and Precinct

Plans.

■ Introduce native vegetation clearing

controls for all high value biodiversity

and remnant Cumberland Plain

Woodland on private land.

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY


HOUSING

Our homes mean more to us than basic shelter. They are

fundamental to our sense of place and belonging because

they connect us to a particular neighbourhood and a

particular community. We welcome government attention to

the crucial issues of environmentally and socially sustainable

housing. Energy efficient homes can save householders’

energy bills at the same time as reducing greenhouse

pollution.

Urban sprawl driven by the development of larger homes

in new land release areas at the edge of Sydney has

contributed to poor environmental and social outcomes

(see equity, greenhouse, water, biodiversity, pollution).

Access to employment and services such as public

transport are crucial to social equity. Compact walkable

neighbourhoods should be pursued in existing as well as

new Sydney suburbs.

We support the introduction of stringent environmental

standards for the construction of new homes and the

renovation of existing homes. The introduction of

greenhouse targets for homes through BASIX is an

important step toward arresting the growth of Sydney’s

greenhouse emissions. BASIX can include the national 5 star

energy efficiency standard which we strongly support, but

goes further to address hot water, the size of the home, and

water efficiency.

The next challenge is to ensure that the environmental

performance of existing building stock is improved as this

stock is renewed. Often the decision to lease or sell a home

is the time when investments are made to upgrade building

features. Energy and water efficiency would be more likely

to improve if mandatory disclosure is required at the point of

lease and point of sale.

The roofs of our homes are a wonderful opportunity to

capture rainwater and solar energy to create a virtual dam

and a virtual power station for Sydney.

We need to find innovative ways of funding government

investment in distributed energy and water infrastructure

as well as extending requirements in BASIX. The Federal

Government’s Solar Cities program should explore

alternate funding arrangements for large scale investment

in residential solar panels and energy efficiency and

the research should be made publicly available

(see greenhouse).

NSW faces an electricity infrastructure investment of more

that $8 billion in the next 10 years to keep up with current

energy needs. Some of these funds should be directed

toward embedded generation such as solar panels, including

financial support for low income households. The significant

savings from avoiding the distribution costs of traditional

electricity supply should be re-directed to make renewable

energy more affordable.

Hot water accounts for more that 30 per cent of household

energy use and systems last around 10-12 years. This means

that if every electric hot water system was replaced with

a heat pump or gas boosted solar hot water system at the

end of its life, within 12 years we will have replaced all of

the energy guzzling electric hot-water systems in Sydney.

Governments should ensure that all new hot water systems

are heat pump or gas-boosted solar hot water, installed with

funding arrangements so that the upfront capital costs are

paid by the savings in energy bills over six years.

MAKE SYDNEY PART

OF THE SOLUTION

■ Introduce mandatory disclosure of the

energy and water efficiency of homes at

the point of lease and point of sale.

■ Ensure heat pump or gas-boosted

solar hot water are installed in Sydney

homes, as they come up for replacement

over the next 10 years and significantly

expand installation of rainwater

tanks. Ensure that these measures are

introduced through innovative funding

arrangements rather than shifting

the implementation cost to low and

moderate income homeowners and

tenants.

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION


EQUITY

A liveable city is one where there is a sense of fairness, a

city where it is just as welcoming to be young as it is to be

old, and where human rights to shelter and universal access

are ensured. Poor planning has had an especially negative

impact on the most vulnerable members of our community.

Housing, jobs and transport inequity have entrenched areas

of social disadvantage in Sydney.

The metropolitan plans we develop today can play a

role in turning this around to deliver social justice that

will make our community more cohesive. Federal, state

and local government policy needs to address the needs

of indigenous Australians, housing affordability and

accessibility, transport inequity, access to education, training

and employment opportunities, and access to the full range

of human services.

In Britain, most London boroughs implement a 25 per

cent affordable housing target through development plans.

As our population ages, universal housing design will

become increasingly important as more Australians seek

housing that accommodates wheelchairs and disabilities.

A 25 percent accessibility and affordability target should be

implemented as a priority.

Poor social planning, including poor access to jobs and

services, has compounded the housing affordability crisis in

the outer suburbs of Sydney. Poor public transport in a time

of rising petrol prices will further entrench disadvantage for

the unemployed, the elderly and the disabled. Metropolitan

planning needs to address this poor social outcomes in

existing suburbs as well as ensuring the same mistakes are

not repeated in new growth centres.

Governments need to recognise and address the legacy

issues that indigenous Australians are facing by engaging

them directly in planning decisions. This is particularly

relevant in the development of the Redfern-Waterloo

precinct.

It is well recognised that there is a housing affordability

crisis for low to moderate income earners in many

Australian cities and particularly in Sydney. Households

paying more than 30 per cent of their income on housing

costs are living in housing that is not affordable. Currently,

35,000 moderate income households in New South Wales

are experiencing this level of housing stress. The situation is

even worse for low income households.

MAKE SYDNEY PART

OF THE SOLUTION

■ Set a 25 per cent affordable and

accessible housing target and implement

policy to achieve this in new and existing

private housing.

■ Actively engage Indigenous Australians

in planning decisions including the

redevelopment of the Redfern-Waterloo

precinct.

■ Increase public and community housing

stock ensure it demonstrates best

practice environmental performance,

and reduce utility bills by improving the

energy and water efficiency of existing

public and community housing.

■ Develop a local employment and public

transport plan for new growth centres

and areas of existing disadvantage so

that a mix of employment is close to

where people live and easy to access.

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY


WASTE

Australia is the second highest producer of waste per

capita in the OECD, and most of our cities reflect a long

term trend of increasing the consumption of resources and

the production of waste. Waste is most visible as the left

over materials going to landfill, however its important to

recognise that we not only need to reduce waste at the end

of the process, but to use materials more efficiently in the

production of goods and services across the economy and in

our own lifestyles. Some wastes are so toxic that they need

to be avoided all together - such as the radioactive waste

from the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney.

In the 20 years from 1970 to 1990, Sydney’s total

consumption increased by 70 per cent even though

Sydney’s population only increased by 30 per cent. 10 The

amount of materials used by each Sydney resident, and the

amount of materials used for each unit of economic growth

continues to increase. Recent calculations of the ecological

footprint of Sydney residents indicate that these trends

continue. It now takes 7.4 hectares of land to maintain each

Sydneysider’s lifestyle, an increase of 16% on five years

ago. Furthermore, New South Wales’ ecological impact,

or footprint, has increased by 23% in five years while the

population grew by only 7%. 11

However, Sydney is performing better than the national

average on most measures of recycling household waste,

construction waste, and commercial and industrial waste.

The government policies that have successfully diverted

this waste from landfill over recent years shows that it

is possible to separate economic activity from resource

consumption. In New Zealand and Victoria, governments

have set a long term target of achieving zero waste.

The New South Wales Government through the State Waste

Strategy has adopted rigorous but achievable targets for

increasing resource recovery and diversion from landfill.

By 2014 the household waste target is 66 per cent; the

commercial and industrial waste target is 63 per cent; and

the construction and demolition waste target is 76 per cent.

These targets are commendable and policies to implement

them should be continued.

The next challenge is to focus on avoiding the amount of

materials used to produce products and economic value

in the first place – reducing materials before they become

waste. We can do this by introducing policies that encourage

manufacturers to rethink their design and packaging

processes through extended producer responsibility. In

Europe, several nations have set a target to improve material

efficiency economy wide by a factor of 10. The benefit

of improving materials efficiency is that often there are

associated economic gains as well as savings in water and

greenhouse emissions.

The Lucas Heights reactor not only places Sydney at risk of

nuclear accidents and potentially at risk of nuclear terrorism

– it produces dangerous reactor nuclear wastes, and should

be closed. Sydney should not impose the transport and

storage of Lucas Heights reactor wastes onto unwilling

communities in other parts of Australia. Government should

take responsibility for any remaining radioactive wastes

from the Lucas Heights facility by on-site, above ground,

monitored and secure, dry storage.

Instead Sydney should establish non-reactor based

alternative provision of medical isotopes as soon

as possible through measures such as

cyclotron production and importing.

Lucas Heights should be reformed

as a centre of excellence in

non-reactor based nuclear

and other technologies.

MAKE SYDNEY PART

OF THE SOLUTION

■ Set a target to achieve zero waste by

2030 and implement policies to achieve

the State Waste Strategy targets by 2014

including a 66 per cent reduction in

household waste; 63 per cent reduction

in commercial and industrial waste; and

a 76 per cent reduction in construction

and demolition waste.

■ Introduce extended producer

responsibility requirements to encourage

the reduction of materials needed in the

manufacture and packaging of goods.

■ Support policies to transform Lucas

Heights into a centre of excellence in

non-reactor based nuclear technologies

and the provision of medical isotopes

through measures such as cyclotron

production and importing.

■ Ensure Sydney does not impose

the transport and storage of Lucas

Heights reactor wastes onto unwilling

communities in other parts of Australia.

■ Take responsibility for any remaining

radioactive wastes from the Lucas

Heights facility by on-site, above ground,

monitored and secure, dry storage.

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION


POLLUTION

Air and water quality and land contamination of Sydney’s

environment impacts on the health of Sydney residents and

their enjoyment of beaches and waterways as well as the

long term sustainability of the natural environment.

Air pollution is linked to asthma and other respiratory

conditions. The National Environment Protection Council

estimates that 4000 Australians die each year from air

pollution compared to 1600 deaths from road accidents. 12

While the impact of air pollution on people’s quality of

life is difficult to measure, the cost of particulate pollution

nationally is estimated to be about $8.4 billion per year. 13

While not the only factor, pollution from vehicle exhaust

plays a significant role in contributing to our air pollution

problems. While improvements have been made over recent

years in fuel efficiency and fuel quality, the steady increase

in vehicle kilometres travelled continues to impact on air

quality. The air pollution guidelines developed by the World

Health Organisation and National Environment Protection

Measures are regularly exceeded in parts of Sydney.

The EPA regularly monitors the recreational water quality

in Sydney as part of its Beachwatch and Harbourwatch

programs. Over recent years, monitoring has shown

improvements to the water quality of our beaches and

estuaries as a result of upgrades to sewage treatment

plants. However the NSW State of the Environment report

confirms that stormwater and sewage overflow continue to

pollute our rivers, estuaries and beaches whenever it rains.

Agricultural runoff and sediment from construction and

development, as well as acid sulphate soils also contribute

to water quality problems in rivers and streams. Not only

can these pollutants make beaches unfit for swimming, it

can also affect aquaculture and fisheries.

Contaminated stormwater is a result of the sediment, litter,

oil and other pollutants that build up on all the roads and

built surfaces of our urban environment. Because urban rain

water can’t just soak into the landscape and naturally filter

through to rivers and streams, stormwater is an engineering

and water pollution challenge. However if we were to install

more rainwater tanks to use our urban roof catchment,

and harvest and treat stormwater at the neighbourhood

scale, we would reduce water pollution at the same time as

meeting Sydney’s long term water supply needs.

Similarly, if we invest in water recycling infrastructure to

divert some of the 450 GL of waste water lost out to sea

each year through ocean outfalls, we would deliver a similar

outcome that addresses Sydney’s long term supply needs.

MAKE SYDNEY PART

OF THE SOLUTION

■ Set long term targets to reduce air and

water pollution by 2030, and implement

policies to achieve existing targets.

■ Implement policies to achieve Action

for Air targets including the targets to

reduce per capita growth in vehicle

kilometres travelled to zero by 2011, and

reduce total growth in vehicle kilometres

travelled to zero by 2021.

■ Develop METRIX, the neighbourhood

scale sustainability index, to implement

stormwater harvesting, neighbourhood

scale water recycling and water sensitive

urban design of public space.

■ Invest in water recycling infrastructure

rather than a desalination plant because

it is more cost effective and will not

contribute to climate change.

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY


Front cover shows Sydney from Space, October 1975, and July 2002.

Images Courtesy of UNEP 2005 One Planet, Many People: Atlas of our Changing Environment.

Printed on 100% recycled paper

1 NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, Who Cares About the

Environment in 2003.

2 ibid.

3 NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, Who Cares About the

Environment in 2003.

4 Water Services Association of Australia, (October 2005) Testing the Water: Urban

water in our growing cities: the risks, challenges, innovation and planning.

5 Woodruff, Hales et al; (2005) Climate Change Health Impacts in Australia,

Australian Conservation Foundation/Australian Medical Association, Canberra.

6 Lowy Institute for International Policy, Australians Speak 2005: public opinion and

foreign policy (2005).

7 The impacts on household prices would be very minimal, adding about $1.40 per

year to the average household bill.

RECIPE FOR A LIVEABLE SYDNEY

8 NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, Who Cares About the

Environment in 2003.

9 Flood,M; Barbato,C; (2005) Off to Work: Commuting in Australia, The Australia

Institute

10 State of the Environment Report, 1996 referred to in: Lowe, I, (2005) A Big Fix:

Radical Solutions for Australia’s Environmental Crisis, Black Inc.

11 NSW State of the Environment Report, 2003.

12 National Environment Protection Council (1998) estimated that about 4000 deaths

each year can be attributed to air pollution.

13 Australia Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian

Medical Association, 1999, Joint submission to the Senate Select Committee on a New

Tax System.

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

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