CVGA June Newsletter
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Welcome to our CVGA Newsletter


Farewell Sonny! 

After four years leading the organisation, I have recently resigned as Executive Officer of the CVGA to start my own practice. Leading the CVGA has been a privilege and an opportunity to get an insight into what real collaboration looks like, and what it takes to accomplish it.

With enormous help from people all across Central Victoria we've built a robust enterprise that truly belongs to and works with you, its Member Councils. Some people have gone above and beyond to make the Alliance an effective vehicle for local government. Thank you so much. It has been so much fun and such a pleasure creating new stuff with you!

My leaving represents an opportunity to revisit some of the Alliance’s most recent accomplishments and to emphasise the importance of maintaining a strong collaboration framework into the future.

The recent withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Accord has emphasised to all players in the Climate Change space from US states and counties, to the heads of state of EU member-countries, to small regional Victorian local governments that action and leadership will increasingly come from all levels of government collectively, and not just from ‘the Big Boys’.

This is a fantastic recognition of a reality that is at least a decade old: sub and inter-national action is actually THE KEY DRIVER of responses to wicked, inter-linked challenges like climate change and regional social, health and economic sustainability.

Australian federal and state responses are a case-in-point with Victoria and other states charging way ahead of the federal government and key Australian local government groups going further again.

In this context, the CVGA has done its job over the last few years with the following major projects developed and/or delivered:

  1. Lighting the Regions: Australia's biggest regional street light upgrade ($10 mil, 16 Councils, 23,000 street-lights)
  2. Low-income Solar: Australia’s first and only market-correction mechanism for delivering solar power to low-income households ($8+ million, four Alliances, 26 Councils, 5000 + low-income households)
  3. Waste-to-Energy Micro Power Stations (six Councils, CapEx $33 million, equivalent to a 6MW power station across 70 sites, an expansion of the Hepburn Shire's ground-breaking pilot)

Amongst smaller projects, the Alliance has also delivered the Resilient Community Assets project for six member Councils as well as helping the City of Greater Bendigo to coordinate the Heatwave Help project that aims to support regional households vulnerable to heatwaves (and the Council Officers who are trying to help them).

If I can leave CVGA member Councils and stakeholders with a single, heartfelt message, it is:



After nearly 20 years of investment, a spectacular list of accomplishments and a truly world-class membership return on investment, it is time to start really stretching what the Alliance mechanism could accomplish. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface!

One of 10 Victorian Alliances, the CVGA is embedded in a state-wide framework we have only just begun to leverage: from multi-Alliance, state and federally-funded projects (like the low-income solar project) to collective advocacy or detailed state-wide procurement and business models, the Victorian Alliance structure is literally unique in Australia.

The CVGA represents a highly under-utilised resource for regional municipalities. Please use it!

Sonny Neale

Don’t Sell Your Waste!

Municipal Strategic Waste (MSW) has traditionally been seen by local government’s as a liability to be managed, not a resource to be maximised. This has now been completely turned around.

The question is not will it happen, but who will benefit?

In Sonny's latest article Don't Sell Your Waste he warns that Councils undervalue the potential of their municipal organic waste and we are under threat to lose a valuable resource to private enterprise. A number of private sector interests are very keen on ‘taking the waste off your hands’, offering to cover the gate fee Council would otherwise have to pay, sometimes with the transport cost thrown in. This seems like a good deal from the perspective of the traditional cost offset of waste management systems.

Now that these waste streams are valuable, the push is on to transfer these public rights into private hands quickly and cheaply before local governments realise the value of the resource they control.

Its time for local governments who control these waste streams, to develop their own business models for maximising the policy outcomes that they feel are important for them and their communities, and not simply offsetting a cost.

To read the full article click here.

2017 Victorian Greenhouse Alliances Conference

The Victorian Greenhouse Alliances conference was held in Moreland Council on 12 May 2017.

With over 200 delegates, speakers and representatives from state and local government and the private sector, as well as the renewable Energy Advocate, Simon Corbel speaking, the event was a spectacular success.

The conference highlighted both how rare and how valuable it is to have events that are focussed on sustainability and climate change, that are directed almost entirely at local government staff and stakeholders.

For many of us, it also emphasised the role Victorian local government Sustainability Alliances have in bringing people together to share and learn about what is and can be accomplished in this space.

I think it’s fair to say that, when compared to the need for more sharing, learning and collaboration in this space, there is substantial scope for expanding the range of statewide local government engagement through events such as this conference. We need to be talking with each other either in a structured or unstructured way much, much more often! There is so much being done, and so many opportunities available to Councils in this space that no-one can be across them all. It is only in forums such as this one that the opportunities and challenges can be sifted to find what really applies to your Council and municipality at this point in time.
The Conference was heart-warming, motivating and concretely valuable in terms of better understanding the dynamics of local government adoption of sustainability policies and practices and we need more such events, both across the state, within the individual Alliances, and as a next step, across States.

In this context, all kudos to the Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA) who took the lead on this and last year’s conference.

My Key Learnings

  • We need more opportunities for sharing of knowledge and information within the local government space
  • Local government divestment from banks and investment vehicles who put their money into fossil fuels is both more effective and potentially easier than I had thought (click the following two links for more here and here).
  • Don’t sell your Municipal Strategic Waste…. If it wasn’t worth so much, the private sector wouldn’t want to buy it! (see my article on this here)
  • Collaboration across local government bodies is increasing but we need to:
    • More quickly identify and support our intrapreneurs in the organisation
    • Create better cross-institutional governance arrangements
For an overview of the session topics and to view the power point presentations, click on the link here.
Sonny Neale

Green with envy - What’s the Goss on your Neighbouring Council?

Each month CVGA will be reporting developments from local councils so you know what everyone's doing with their CO2 emissions.


Loddon Mallee Waste Info App

The Loddon Mallee Waste and Resource Recovery Group in conjunction with its eight member Councils are excited to announce the launch of the Loddon Mallee Waste Info App. The Waste Info App has been developed to help residents make quick and simple waste and recycling decisions with the aim to reduce contamination and increase recycling levels.

Download the FREE Loddon Mallee Waste Info App through the App Store or Google Play with the search: Loddon Mallee

Ballarat City to Become Carbon Neutral by 2025

Ballarat City Council could become carbon neutral in less than 10 years under a bold plan. Council voted to be carbon neutral by 2025 and move to 100 per cent renewable energy sources at its April 26 ordinary meeting.

A number of potential changes have been identified including retro-fitting council buildings with energy saving products, such as motion censor lights, auditing council’s vehicle and plant fleet buildings.

Council has a cycling action plan, tree canopy cover targets, green waste services and solar panel program for public buildings and is looking at possible avenues for expansion of these programs.

To read the full article in The Courier click here.


EAGA  - report on progress of fossil fuel divestment in local government 

The Eastern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (EAGA) has compiled a document, Divestment from Financial Organisations Supporting Fossil Fuel Industries - A snap-shot of progress in the local government sector, sharing insights from councils who have implemented divestment strategies.

Research is based on direct consultation with finance officers in six councils across the country. The findings are intended to provide guidance to Victorian councils seeking to divest themselves of fossil fuels.

You can download the full report 

Industry News


Victoria's Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2017 - 2020

Local Government Engagement - how your feedback informed development of the Adaptation Plan: in May – August 2016, the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) held a series of workshops with local governments across Victoria to inform the development of the Victorian Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2017-2020 (‘the Adaptation Plan’). The perspectives shared by local government officers in these forums helped to build the Adaptation Plan. 

You can read the full report on how your contributions informed the creation of the Adaptation Plan here on our website.

Climate Change Risks to Local Government - Brochure

Local governments are on the front line, and have been showing leadership for many years, in dealing with climate change impacts. Managing climate change risks to council services, infrastructure and operations, and supporting the community to adapt, are critical responsibilities of local government. DEWLP have published an information brochure highlighting examples of the climate change risks faced by councils and how to consider some of these risks in decision-making.

To read or download this brochure in full, you can visit our website here.

Moreland Announces World First Hydrogen Garbage Trucks

Moreland City Council in Melbourne has announced plans to develop what it says is a world first fleet of waste vehicles powered by 100 per cent hydrogen fuel, as well as the creation of a commercial-scale refuelling station.

The council has teamed up with hydrogen utility company H2U for the project, with a global vehicle manufacturer on board to develop and test the fleet of prototype hydrogen fuel cell waste trucks.

Read a more in depth article in the Fifth State here.

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