Pig poo power plant set to boost jobs and energy in northern Victoria

An ambitious plan to turn pig poo and food scraps into power is being developed in northern Victoria.

The power plant, glasshouse and piggery expansion, called Waranga Green Energy, will be built at Stanhope, west of Shepparton. For over five years, it has been the dream of piggery owner John Bourke.

The project is set to transform the quiet town of Stanhope, providing an additional 30 jobs and estimated $10 million per year for the local economy. The aim of the property is to develop a closed system for power and waste on the farm.

Pig poo and straw from the intensive farming environment will be used, along with other food waste, to create power in an anaerobic digester plant to be built nearby. The plant will be used to power the piggery and provide heat to an expanded and upgraded farm.

Next to the power plant, a 4.6-hectare greenhouse will be built, using power and heat to grow leafy green vegetables, year round, to supply gaps in the seasonal markets.

The goal is to sell up to 20 million lettuces and over 20,000 pigs per year, along with liquid and solid fertiliser (a bi-product from the power plant) to the farm’s customers.

The price tag for the Waranga Green Energy and farm project is around $75million which Mr Bourke is planning to raise through superannuation and foreign investment.

He has hired a company to raise the capital needed.

An additional $1 million grant has been awarded by the Victorian State Government.

Mr Bourke is confident he will get the investment dollars he needs because of the high return from the project.

Construction is set to begin in early 2017 with Mr Bourke expecting the farm to be fully operational and sending food to market within the year.

Pigs on straw beds at a piggery at Stanhope

Pigs on straw beds at a piggery at Stanhope

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SA Aboriginal community turns to saltbush farming to create remote jobs

The Aboriginal community of Scotdesco on South Australia’s west coast, has pinned its hopes on farming to overcome shockingly high levels of unemployment.

Robert Larking’s office spans 25,000 acres on the edge of the Nullarbor, where he manages the tiny Aboriginal community.

He, and the community’s residents are embarking on an ambitious project to commercially sell saltbush, a hardy native, in a bid to create jobs in the remote area. To create employment, Mr Larking and the community is pinning its hopes on saltbush.

“Our process now is to go into a different stage where we can grow our saltbush, and feed our lamb saltbush and hit a different market,” he said.

The community has planted hundreds of saltbush plants, to be harvested commercially in three years’ time. A nursery has also been built where residents tend the seedlings until they are ready to go in the ground. There are plans to eventually build a mill in nearby Ceduna, where the plants can be turned into pellets for stock feed or flour for human consumption.

The community tends to saltbush seedlings until they are ready to be planted.

The community tends to saltbush seedlings until they are ready to be planted.

Saltbush is gluten free and high in protein.

“That’s when it’s really all going to come together, but we’ll be planting our paddocks for the next three years with other plants, so, increasing our stock.

While this project is only just getting off the ground, those involved have big plans. The hope is to plant about 10,000 hectares of saltbush in the region with the help of other Indigenous communities.

Ms Miller said it was important that job opportunities were available in remote areas.

Local Indigenous groups know this land, in the remote west of South Australia, inside out. That is why Mr Larking started looking at new ways the community could use their knowledge of the country to become self-sustainable.

He turned to farming, and the property runs sheep that are sold to market.

“We first started off with only 600 ewes and about 20 rams. After three years now we’ve got over 3,000 ewes and about 60 rams, even a bit more now, and we’re selling easy over 1,000 lambs a year,” he said.

Mr Larking said the community turned to saltbush to build on that success.

“We’re a small community and I sort of feel like there’s just a one-man-band, myself, but you know if I had more staff … we could move on very quickly to brighter and better things,” he said.

“Thinking about it, I can sell my meat to Woolies or Coles or something like that, a private buyer, instead of selling it straight to the market.”

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Time for the ‘green tape’ debate to mature: jobs and the environment are not implacable foes

Originally Published by The Conversation 25 August 2015, Allan Dale.

The highly charged debate over the proposed Carmichael coal mine, which culminated in Attorney-General George Brandis’s decision last week to propose winding back environmental legal protections, has exposed the simmering tension between “jobs” and “the environment” on Australia’s political landscape.

On one hand, those seeking to invest in the development of Australia’s natural resources and jobs growth have been making a clear case that Australia’s system of assessment and approval for major projects is riddled with procedural uncertainty.

Tinkering with the law is likely to entrench positions on both sides of the ‘green tape’ debate. AAP Image/Supplied

Tinkering with the law is likely to entrench positions on both sides of the ‘green tape’ debate. AAP Image/Supplied

On the other, environmental advocates and local communities feel that the current system does not adequately protect the environment – correctly pointing out Australia’s less than stellar record in preventing species from going extinct.

As a nation, however, we need to lift our game on both fronts.

Investors in the Australian economy and those seeking jobs and growth need certainty with regard to where and how they invest.

Equally, to avoid warfare (or “lawfare”) on a project-by-project basis, Australia’s environmental advocates and local communities need certainty too. They need clarity about where and how economic development can occur without harming our environmental heritage.

View the full article here.

Rural Poverty in Australia is worse in remote regions

 

Rural poverty in Australia is worse in remote regions, a report from National Rural Health Alliance and the Australian Council of Social Service found those living in the most remote locations were the worst off.

The report, A Snapshot of Poverty in Rural and Regional Australia, revealed that people living outside major cities had lower levels of education, higher unemployment, poorer physical and mental health and less access to medical care.

Nearly one in three people live outside our major cities – in rural, regional and remote areas across Australia

Allowing for the costs of housing, poverty is slightly worse in rural, regional and remote areas (13.1 per cent ‘outside capital cities’) than in capital cities (12.6 per cent). When housing costs (which are higher in capital cities) are not taken into account, that divide becomes starker.

Poverty in rural and regional Australia has a particular set of characteristics, including:  generally lower incomes of those living in these regions; reduced access to services such as health, education and transport; declining employment opportunities; and  distance and isolation.

The report is available on the National Rural Health Alliance  website

Regional Development Australia: The Conference will feature discussions on Regional Health and Social Development. It will be held in Albury NSW on the 15 – 16 October 2014.

Call for papers

Authors or organisations interested in submitting a paper or presenting a workshop are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 300 words outlining the aims, contents and conclusions of their paper or presentation; or about their intended role in a workshop.

All proposals will be reviewed by the Conference Program Committee. Presentations will be selected to provide a program that offers a comprehensive and diverse treatment of issues related to the conference theme.

Australian Regional Development Conference

RDA Conference15-16 October 2014, The Commercial Club Albury Secretariat: (T) 61 7 5502 2068 (F) 07 5527 3298 Email: secretariat@regionaldevelopment.org.au URL: www.regionaldevelopment.org.au

 

 

Jobless Scheme to help Drought affected graziers

An organisation helping jobless people in central-west Queensland says it will look at the possibility of having unemployed people assist drought-affected graziers.

The Remote Area Planning and Development Board has helped to form RAPAD Employment Services Queensland – to deliver skills and training under a federally-funded scheme.

Regional manager Tony Rayner says while most primary producers are not looking to employ workers in the current dry, there may be opportunities for jobless people to help.

“People are fully occupied with the drought at the moment and working their way through that,” he said.

He says there will be an element to the program where some jobseekers can do voluntary work.

“We will be working with AgForce and other groups to look at opportunities where we might be able to place some of our jobseekers to assist with some of the drought-feeding programs and jobs like that,” he said.

“Most of regional Australia has a small unemployment issue.” He says in the central-west region, unemployment is not excessively high. “We have a relatively small number of job seekers, but they are scattered across a very large region,” he said.

“Backpackers do take up some of the jobs that local jobseekers could do, but it is probably more of a case that we have to make sure that our local jobseekers have the right skills.”

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Regional Development Australia: The Conference will feature discussions on regional employment. It will be held in Albury NSW on the 15 – 16 October 2014 with a focus on the broad issues of economic, planning, environment and community development.

The Regional Development Australia: Innovation Awards are being held in conjunction to the conference with an aim to recognise and showcase individuals and organisations in four categories: economic development, planning and building, environment and resilience and community development.

Call for papers  is now open.

Authors or organisations interested in submitting a paper or presenting a workshop are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 300 words outlining the aims, contents and conclusions of their paper or presentation; or about their intended role in a workshop.

All proposals will be reviewed by the Conference Program Committee. Presentations will be selected to provide a program that offers a comprehensive and diverse treatment of issues related to the conference theme.

Australian Regional Development Conference

15-16 October 2014, The Commercial Club Albury
Secretariat: (T) 61 7 5502 2068 (F) 07 5527 3298
Email: secretariat@regionaldevelopment.org.au URL: www.regionaldevelopment.org.au