Werribee Plains Pathways to Sustainability Report - Australian ...


Werribee Plains Pathways to Sustainability Report - Australian ...

Pathways to Sustainability


Regional Environmental

Sustainability Framework

The Australian Conservation Foundation 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.

March 2010

ACF Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Sustainability Framework


In August 2002, the Government announced its vision for the Werribee Plains as creating a major

green region that is renowned internationally for its:

• Sustainable agricultural, industrial and urban development;

• Sustainable management of resources such as water, energy, air, soil, fish, timber

and ecosystems; and

• Community culture based on sustainability.

The Vision took shape through consultation and the Government’s active participation with the

community, business, and investors. The Victorian Government undertook community and key

stakeholder consultation and following this consultation released the report Creating a Sustainable

Future: Werribee Plains: a vision for a sustainable future.

It was envisioned at that time that the Werribee Plains has the potential to generate substantial

investments and jobs for Victorians in the water and agribusiness sectors and transform the region

into a global leader in water management and sustainable development.

In 2004, the Victorian Government released the Our Water Our Future White Paper with the aim

of securing the state’s water for the next 50 years. As part of meeting this challenge the funding

was provided for the Vision for the Werribee Plains to assist realise the transformation of the

region into a global leader in water management and sustainable development. This initiative was

underpinned by the preparation and release of the Vision for Werribee Plains – the next step:

action plan 2004 as the first in series of statements setting out priority actions the government

would take in the delivery of the Vision.

The Vision for Werribee Plains Grants Program has three major themes:

• Improved and protected biodiversity outcomes;

• Improved sustainability in industry and society – more efficient use of resources, reduced

emissions, and innovative solutions to resource sharing; and

• Opportunities with recycled water to generate new economic opportunities.

To date the Grants Program has funded a diverse range of projects, including:

• Support for the roll out as part of the Werribee West Recycled water extension for the

supply of Class A recycled water to 15,000 new houses and open space areas and an online

induction course for the safe use of Class A recycled water in the Werribee Tourism


• Increasing community understanding and engagement in keeping waterways cleaner.

• Promoting the role of industry in adoption of best practice for water use.

• Applied research for water use applications.

• Restoration of critically endangered grasslands.

• Support for community groups for such activities protection and enhancement of waterways

and revitalising degraded landscapes.

• Implementation of a Big Roof Project for harvesting water and energy from big rooves.

• Development of a Regional Sustainability Framework.

More information on these projects can be obtained by going to


March 2010 1

ACF Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Sustainability Framework


The Australian Conservation Foundation was funded, under the Grants Program, to undertake a

three-year project to develop a regional sustainability framework for the Werribee Plains region.

The Werribee Plains project encompasses the following municipalities of the City of Brimbank,

City of Greater Geelong (part), City of Hobsons Bay, City of Maribyrnong, Shire of Melton, Shire of

Moorabool (part) and City of Wyndham.

The broad aim of ACF’s involvement in this project has been to use the Werribee Plains region as

a research model to develop a range of practical yet ambitious solutions to massively reduce the

ecological footprint of the region and develop best practice environmental sustainability indicators

in the areas of water, energy and natural environment.

The Australian Conservation Foundation believes this framework can be used by local

governments and regional organisations, industries and communities to facilitate real

improvements in environmental sustainability through the:

• implementation of the Framework’s environmental sustainability directions, and

• inputting of the framework directions into strategic planning processes for future land use

and development in the Werribee Plains region.

As part of the initial exploratory phase of the project, a series of interviews were held with

stakeholders covering local government, state government, water authorities, industry

representatives, farmers, politicians and community leaders. Key sustainability issues facing the

region were identified as water, climate change and urban development. The impact of the

drought and an increased public awareness of the likely impacts of climate change were

perceived to be driving current moves towards sustainability. Interviewees identified a number of

important factors blocking moves towards greater sustainability, which were broadly classified as

institutional / governance, financial / market barriers and behavioural aspects (such as resistance

March 2010 2

ACF Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Sustainability Framework

to change). Opportunities for the project to overcome these barriers include providing information

and facilitating partnerships, with a strong desire to lead this change on the ground.

The Framework is designed to provide a clear focus on three key aspirational environmental

sustainability outcomes:

• Water - How far can we reduce the demand for reticulated drinking?

• Energy – To what extent can we achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and

to what extend can we substantially reduce car dependency?, and

• Natural Environment – How can we drive investment in the region’s biodiversity to ensure

resilience of natural assets and systems to climate change and fragmentation by


The organisational structure of the Regional Sustainability Framework is below. It is designed to

promote and facilitate decision making that incorporates these environmental aspirations into

business planning and implementation at a regional level.

Werribee Plains Regional Sustainability Framework

Long term outcomes for environmentally sustainable


Outcomes Outcomes Outcomes





Monitoring and


Suite of


indicators for



Urban water

research reports

Energy and Transport

research reports

Biodiversity Connectivity

research report



Policy and




Policy, planning

and programs



Planning and




Policy, planning

and programs



Action by

groups and


This Framework is designed to address for each of the areas of water, energy and natural


• An understanding with stakeholders of the issues;

• Quantification of the issues to the extent possible on the basis of existing evidence;

• Identification of priorities;

• Formulation of targets;

March 2010 3

ACF Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Sustainability Framework

• Development of potential solutions;

• Discussion of barriers;

• Formulation of proposed actions; and

• Identification of indictors for monitoring and reporting and reviewing progress.

After a review, research projects were identified to provide initial research on key regional issues

for each of the three areas. Consultants were appointed to undertake these initial research

studies. Key stakeholder involvement was an integral part of each of these research studies.

The overall purpose of these research studies was to provide a tangible starting point for the

understanding and discussion of issues, and development of solutions specifically relevant to the

regional action.

A summary of each of these reports is given below and the full reports for each of these research

studies are available at the ACF website at Home > Campaigns > Sustainable Cities > Werribee

Plains Project.



The priority was to look at to what extent a suburb can act as its own water catchment, with the

priority question being

• How far can we reduce the demand for reticulated drinking water in new, large-scale

suburban developments through localised capture, reduction & re-use?

The Werribee Plains, particularly the City of Wyndham and Shire of Melton are high growth areas

for urban expansion.

The ACF commissioned a research study on urban water management in the Werribee Plains

Region to undertake physical and economic modelling of water demand and supply for new

suburban developments. The study demonstrated that very significant savings of reticulated

potable water can be easily and economically achieved. These savings are maximised in a new

large-area suburban development, where water-efficient systems and appliances are built into the

design of new homes. Applying Water-Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) principles throughout the

suburb maximises the benefits of stormwater capture and re-use. In the "optimum" scenario

(balancing volume of water saved against the cost of making that saving), reticulated water

demand for the suburb was cut by 60 per cent, at a levelised cost of $2.35/kilolitre — below the

estimated cost of producing potable water through desalination.

Case studies demonstrating outstanding efforts within the Werribee Plains to promote sustainable

water and energy practices in industrial, irrigation and tourism precincts were also researched and

documented by ACF.

A further research project was commissioned to provide an evaluation of the market, institutional

and policy barriers to the adoption of sustainable water solutions. The research included a review

of current government policy at local, state and federal level and involved stakeholder interviews

with water authorities and government agencies involved in water planning as well as industry

stakeholders. A number of policy solutions were recommended along with targets and indicators

to measure progress.

Research Reports

Werribee Plains: Urban Water Management – WaterCycle and Economic modelling (2008)

Werribee Plains: Urban Water - Reducing potable water use (2010)

March 2010 4

ACF Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Sustainability Framework

Key Regional Strategic Directions - urban water


Household Scale

Collect baseline data for the number and size of rainwater tanks installed in new and existing houses,

and whether they are connected to laundry/toilet

Increase financial incentives (such as rebates) for household rainwater tanks

Facilitate bulk purchase schemes for household water saving technologies eg. dual flush toilets

Precinct Scale

Promote case studies of best practice precinct scale storm water harvesting and recycling projects to

councils and developers

Develop the business case for stormwater harvesting and recycling including the economic value of

social benefits such as maintenance of sporting fields, food security, reduced heat stress, and garden


Regional Scale

Establish potable and non potable supply goals for the next 50 years based on projections for urban

expansion for the municipalities in the Werribee Plains region.

Establish a regional network of local government officers working on sustainable water solutions

including recycling, storm water harvesting, and water sensitive urban design. Similar to the Regional

Waste Management Groups, and the Alliance for Greenhouse Action model, such a network focused

on water could support information sharing on technical and planning issues, economies of scale for

research and project development, as well as professional development opportunities.

Develop a financial incentive for water saving technology funded through water supply charges.



Two major priority areas were chosen for energy:

• Development of an overall strategy to achieve zero net emissions; and

• Reducing Green House Gas emissions by reducing car dependency.

Strategy to achieve zero net emissions

The purpose of this research study was to provide the eight municipal councils in the western

metropolitan area with a strategic plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

This study:

• Quantified the total greenhouse emissions by sector for each of the municipal councils in

the study area for 2006, and projected to 2020.

• Identified the priority sectors and provided a series of policy and program solutions for

achieving zero net emissions

• Identified ways to monitor progress towards achieving zero net emissions by 2020.

Reducing Green House Gas emissions by cars

The Werribee Plains is typical of the peri-urban areas of most Australian cities in being highly

dependent on the car, that is, its urban design has evolved around car transport.

March 2010 5

ACF Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Sustainability Framework

The purpose of this research study was to examine how effective the planning and implementation

of urban development in the peri-urban areas of the Werribee Plains is at providing the built form

to support reducing car dependency. This initial focus on urban design in the growth areas is

because the growth area structure planning is in full swing and there is essentially only one

opportunity to ensure that urban design planning addresses the issue of reducing car dependency

before changes are literally set in concrete.

Research Reports


Werribee Plains: Sustainable Transport in a Peri-urban Context – A review of potential

strategies for reducing car dependency (2009)

Werribee Plains: Energy Research Study - Towards Zero Net Emissions (2010)

Werribee Plains: Reducing Car Dependency -Transport and Urban Design Solutions (2010)

Key Regional Strategic Directions - energy


Residential building sector

Plan for an Increase in density of housing development.

Reduce house size.

Retrofit existing residential buildings.

Install solar hot water.

Install solar PV to allow energy feedback into the electricity grid.

Residential travel sector

Actions to reduce car dependency to:

• Increase local employment opportunities to reduce journey to work travel

• Improve access to public transport both train and bus

• Apply urban design to improve local accessibility by public transport, walking and cycling to shopping,

sporting and recreational amenities.

Develop a regional electric vehicle masterplan including provision of recharge points.

Non residential buildings (incl. commercial, industrial, education and hospitals) sector

Implement the Big Roof program to encourage large-scale installation of Solar PV on the regions’

industrial and commercial foofs.

Develop wind power and cogeneration.

Move to more energy efficient lighting and appliances.

Industrial processes sector

Engage with industry to better understand the industrial processes and equipment currently being used.

Explore options to implement industrial strategies

Renewable Energy / Community Greenpower

Engage with industry to understand the barriers to greater uptake of Greenpower

Involve local champions in Greenpower uptake

Negotiate a Greenpower price that is attractive to customers in the Werribee Region

Freight efficiency and mode shift

Collect direct information on freight movements within the region to provide a better understanding of

the emissions from this source

The Smart Grid / Virtual Power Station

Liaise with the Australian Energy Efficiency Council and allies to establish a Virtual Power Plant in

March 2010 6

ACF Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Sustainability Framework

Melbourne’s west.

Make improvements in National Electricity rules to facilitate the transition from centralised to distributed

power generation and transmission

Waste to Energy

Investigate seeking capital to fund construction and maintenance of waste to energy facilities on

existing land fill sites



The natural environment encompasses both specific natural assets and ecological processes. The

State Planning Policy Framework (SPPF) in Victoria’s Planning Provisions is an overarching

statement of State Government’s policy that is included in all municipal planning schemes. It

provides a useful understanding of the scope of issues included under natural environment. These

issues include protection of catchments, waterways and groundwater; floodplain management;

salinity; air quality, noise abatement, soil contamination; protection from wildfire; coastal areas;

conservation of flora and fauna; open space; heritage; energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Another useful concept is that of ‘natural capital’ which, using a definition taken from

www.eartheconomics.org is “The infrastructure of life on Earth. Stocks or funds provided by nature

that yield a valuable flow into the future of either natural resources or ecological services”. Most

commonly this refers to air, soil, water and vegetation communities.

Biodiversity was selected as the initial priority. This was chosen as an issue that is a major policy

focus at both the Commonwealth and State levels. Both these levels of government have placed a

high priority on protecting the highly threatened remnant grasslands of the Volcanic Plains of

Western Victoria that extend well into the project area.

To scope the issue of biodiversity and identify priorities for the study in the Werribee Plains

Region a forum was held with key stakeholders in 2009 and the following priority areas were


• Protection and enhancement of remnant vegetation along urban waterways.

• Protection of remnant grasslands.

• Connection of key habitats and integration across land tenures.

• Commitment, resources and enforcement of existing legislation and policy.

• Development of a holistic or integrated strategy across policy areas to address competing

policy drivers.

Since that forum the State Government announced an initiative for creating two large reserves for

native grasslands in the Werribee Plains which is currently the subject of a strategic assessment

under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Both the Australian and Victorian Governments have recently released reports on biodiversity and

climate change which identify connectivity as a central strategy for protecting and enhancing

biodiversity values to give ecosystems the best possible chance to adapt to climate change and

address the fragmented of ecosystems

This research study focused on regional connectivity and was aimed at:

• Preparing a biodiversity action plan for the ‘Vision for Werribee Plains’ project area.

• Involving key stakeholders in a region-wide submission to the ‘Vision for Werribee Plains

and other funding sources.

• Identifying intermediate and long term outcomes and targets, and associated indicators for

evaluation and reporting.

March 2010 7

ACF Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Sustainability Framework

Research Reports

Werribee Plains: Biodiversity Connectivity - Resilience of natural assets and systems to

climate change and fragmentation by urbanisation (2010)

Werribee Plains: Biodiversity Connectivity – Biodiversity legislation, policy and program

drivers (2010)

Werribee Plains: Biodiversity Connectivity – Existing related planning policy in municipal

planning schemes for Councils in the Werribee Plains Region (2010)

Key Regional Strategic Directions – natural environment



Formation of a Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Task Group in conjunction with local

government to lead the process of the preparation of a regional natural environment program as part of

the development of a business plan for a regional environmental sustainability program.

Waterway corridors

Preparation by Greening Australia of an application of the Werribee River Woodland Connections

project as the first regional connectivity initiative for funding under Caring for Our Country and other

funding sources.

This project will include the involvement of the community and build on existing programs.

A coordinated review of the municipal planning schemes for policy development and consideration of

zoning, overlays and other planning tools for achieving biodiversity connectivity.

A coordinated review of tools for supporting action on existing land management on private land for

biodiversity connectivity.


Werribee Plains Environmental Task Group to review issues for grasslands connectivity and develop a

regional action plan.


Werribee Plains Environmental Task Group to review issues for roadsides connectivity and develop a

regional action plan.


Each report has identified potential indicators for monitoring to track progress with achieving the

regional environmental sustainability outcomes.

It is proposed that a suite of indicators for an ongoing regional environmental sustainability

program. The use of common LGA environmental sustainability indicators at the regional level

would enable:

• A regional consistency in reporting;

• Regional economies of scale leading to decreased resources required by individual

municipalities in accessing sourcing data relevant to local government annual reporting

requirements; and

• Improved clarity of communication with ratepayers on a regional basis.

The indicators we will be applying are to monitor the achievement of intermediate term

outcomes that can be measured on an annual basis and probably reviewed on a 3-5 year time

scale. There will need to be a clear relationship between the intermediate indicators and long term

outcomes. One example of an intermediate indictor for the reduction in non renewable energy

March 2010 8

ACF Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Sustainability Framework

consumption is number of dwellings with solar hot water systems installed. The assumption is

that there is a positive correlation between installation of solar hot water systems to replace

electric systems and a reduction in the use of non renewable energy. These assumptions need to

be explicit and able to be tested over time.

It is evident from the examination of the local government corporate plans that while

environmental sustainability is a common theme, the treatment across the different municipalities

varies. There is also no obvious nesting of indicators from the national to the local government

level. A real opportunity exists with the Regional Sustainability Framework to address this issue

and produce efficiencies of scale in the collection and reporting of annual and longer term


Urban Water indicators


Long term outcomes

Urban residential areas

Potable water saved

Water recycled

Stormwater harvested

Intermediate term outcome indicators

KL reduced per person or per household

Number and volume of household rainwater tanks installed

KL as proportion of total water supply

KL harvested and proportion of total water supply

Stormwater Quality

Greenhouse intensity of water supply

Stormwater Quality Index

Tonnes of CO2 equivalent per KL water

Energy indicators


Long term outcomes

Residential building sector

Non renewable electricity and gas

consumption (total / per dwelling / per


Residential travel sector

Greenhouse Emissions by cars (total)

Non residential buildings

Non renewable electricity and gas

consumption (total)

Industrial processes

Victorian Industrial emissions



Intermediate term outcome indicators

• Housing density (dwellings per ha)

• Median housing size (m 2 )

• No. of dwellings with:

• Solar hot water systems installed

• Solar PV systems installed

• Small wind turbines installed

• Housing density (dwellings per ha)

• Proximity of dwellings to bus stops, train stations, activity

centres and open space.

• Walkability measures (e.g. length of footpaths constructed)

• Cyclability measures (e.g. length of bike paths constructed)

• Mode change (3 yr VISTA data)

• Area of industrial roof space covered by solar PV

• No. of large turbines:

• With planning approval

• Constructed and operating

• Victorian Greenhouse Gas Inventory

• Calculate emissions on a per job basis

March 2010 9

ACF Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Sustainability Framework


Long term outcomes

Victorian Freight emissions



Victorian Waste emissions



Victorian Agricultural Emissions

Agricultural land in use

Intermediate term outcome indicators

• Victorian Greenhouse Gas Inventory

• Calculate emissions on a per job basis

• Victorian Greenhouse Gas Inventory

• ABS estimated resident populations and calculation of

emissions on a per capita basis

• Victorian Greenhouse Gas Inventory

• ABS Farm census and allocate Victorian total based on

Werribee Region’s share of agricultural land

Natural Environment indicators


Long term outcomes


Planning Scheme protection for riparian

vegetation along regions waterways

Contiguous connectivity along regional

waterways of native vegetation

Improved regional water quality


Greater connection between Native

Grassland remnant patches

Planning scheme to allow for connected

corridors along waterways (3-5 years)


Marine parks and protected areas



Monitor roadside vegetation for active

use as a corridor by native fauna

Protection and maintenance of existing

remnant vegetation

Intermediate term outcome indicators

• Planning scheme changes to allow for connected corridors

along waterways (3-5 years)

• Revegetation of rare and threatened vegetation communities

• Implementation of off-stream watering for stock

• Riparian areas fenced and revegetated

• Results of water quality monitoring along waterways

• On-ground establishment of local biodiversity connections

• Planning Schemes and Vegetation Framework to include

specifications about grassland revegetation

• Areas extended

• Research into regional fauna movements

• Protection and maintenance of existing remnant vegetation

March 2010 10

ACF Werribee Plains Regional Environmental Sustainability Framework


At the end of March 2010 the ACF completes the 3 year project for the development of the

Werribee Plains Regional Sustainability Framework.

The ACF and DSE have considered potential governance arrangements for the ongoing

implementation of actions for water, energy and environment identified in the Framework.

The proposed governance arrangement is for the formation of a regional entity to facilitate

collaborative planning across all levels of government, regional agencies and the community for

environmental sustainability in the western Melbourne metropolitan area.

Modelled in a similar manner to ‘Health West’ the nominally titled “EcoWest’, would have the

following vision, mission, staffing and operational arrangements.


Lead strategic partnerships to facilitate real improvements in environmental sustainability in

Melbourne’s west.


Development of partnerships to support, canvas and represent member agencies and the

community in enhancing and strengthening the achievement of environmental sustainability

outcomes through collaborative regional projects.


A team comprising

An Executive Officer (suggested part-time and supported by member bodies from state and

regional agencies and local government) responsible for:

• Leading the development of a business plan for a regional environmental sustainability

program based on the Regional Sustainability Framework and initially concentrating on the

proposed actions for urban water, energy and environment ;

• Collaborative project planning and delivery; and

• Preparation of an annual regional environmental sustainability report card based on an agreed

suite of indicators for reporting to government and the community.

Project Officers – part-time and seconded for set projects approved as part of the business

plan by member bodies.



Suggested project based structure.

Initial Regional


Natural Environment – Regional Biodiversity Connectivity Project which is currently the subject

of bid to Caring for Our Country being prepared by ACF and Greening Australia.

Energy – Implementation by WAGA of the Industry Big Roofs PV initiative..

Water – Establish a regional network of local government officers working on sustainable water

solutions including recycling, storm water harvesting, and water sensitive urban design.

March 2010 11

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