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

Read more.


Sustainable futures Helen Anstis

Sustainable futures

Sustainable futures – Helen Anstis will present at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference Canberra 5 – 6 September 2016.

Sustainable futures: We are pleased to announce Ms Helen Anstis, CEO, Baw Baw Shire Council as a Speaker at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress to be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016.

Helen Anstis will present on ‘Pathways to a sustainable future’.

There is no denying that many rural councils are stretched financially and are struggling to maintain the current levels of service and infrastructure provision due to increasingly tight financial conditions.

Seeking additional funding for just road and bridge maintenance will not solve the problem in the long-term. Only systemic changes to local government operations, combined with a review of the funding arrangements from Federal and State governments will resolve the long-term financial sustainability crisis that many rural councils face.

Therefore this presentation will explore this issue of future sustainability and present ideas on how rural councils can achieve long-term sustainability. All ideas were generated through a workshop run with the Emerging Leaders group.

In order to be seen as sustainable, a council would have to have an operating surplus on an annual basis after fulfilling 100% if its infrastructure renewal requirements and provide essential services.

Sustainable futures – About Helen Anstis

Helen Anstis joined Baw Baw Shire Council as its CEO on 5 July 2010. Baw Baw Shire offices are located in Warragul approximately 1 hour east from Melbourne’s CBD.

Helen’s diverse career, spanning over 30 years includes time in the private sector and across all three tiers of government. Her career covers wide ranging experience and includes roles such as investment manager and investigator. She has held positions at Hobsons Bay, Geelong and Hume City Councils prior to her employment with Baw Baw Shire.

Helen’s local government experience also includes a study tour across the United States and Europe, investigating the effects of chronic illness in the workplace, the findings of her research have been presented to the MAV and she was also awarded an Local Government Managers Scholarship to work in the United Kingdom for one month as an exchange manager with Three Rivers District Council.

In June 2014 Helen represented Baw Baw Shire on the Victorian State Government South East Asian Super Trade Mission, which visited Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Sustainable futures and a broad range of topics for regional development will be discussed at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress to be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016 to register for the conference CLICK HERE.

With over 60 speakers and 7 keynote speakers, it is the regional conference to attend. To view the 2016 Conference Program CLICK HERE.

Dr Kate Auty discusses Community Energy

Dr Kate Auty discusses Community Energy

Dr Kate Auty discusses Community Energy

Community Energy: We are pleased to announce Dr Kate Auty, Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment as a session speaker at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016.

Dr Kate Auty will be speaking on ‘Community Energy’ in the Regional environmental sustainability stream.

There is a growing movement across regional areas to promote a discussion about and also install community energy projects.  We have just seen leadership in the ACT with the Territory government committing to a target of 100% renewable by 2020, moving the target date forward.

The Victorian experience in relation to community energy is informative.

Daylesford began the conversation about two community owned wind turbines, engaged in a massive amount of community discussion, forged a new way of funding the proposal, built constructive relationships with government, and then built the turbines.  That community owns its turbines and produces its own energy.

Newstead in central Victoria has been forging ahead with a conversation about becoming 100% renewable.

Yackandandah and Seymour and Euroa are all working on ways to promote the turn to renewable energy and Dr Kate Auty explores the elements of a successful campaign.

Dr Kate Auty is the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment. Her qualifications include law, history and environmental science. She holds a PhD in law and legal studies and continues as a barrister. Kate has held appointments as a magistrate and coroner (Victoria and Western Australia). She has also held appointments as a WA mining warden and industrial magistrate. Kate was instrumental in establishing Aboriginal sentencing courts in both Victoria and Western Australia.

Subsequent to those appointments she was the Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability from 2009-2014 and she continues as a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow with University of Melbourne through to 2017. Current boards and advisory roles include the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (Chair), AURIN and MDBA ACSEES (member).  Kate is presently a City of Melbourne Ambassador in the development of the Future Melbourne Plan 2026 with a portfolio responsibility in climate change.

In accepting the ACT Commissioner role Kate relinquished advisory roles with La Trobe University in sustainable society, water and agriculture research, and she also stepped down as the chair of the advisory board to NeCTAR.

Community Energy will be discussed at The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016 to register for the conference CLICK HERE.

To view the Conference Program CLICK HERE. With over 60 speakers and 7 keynote speakers, it is a Conference opportunity not to be missed. To view the 2016 Conference Program CLICK HERE.

Nicky Ison and Jarra Hicks and Renewable Energy Opportunities for Regional Australia

Nicky Ison

Ms Nicky Ison, Community Renewable Energy

The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference Participation and Progress in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016 will include a presentation from Nicky Ison and Jarra Hicks on “Community Renewable Energy: Maximising the opportunities for regional Australia”.

Australia is in the midst of an energy transition: a shift from centralised fossil-fuels to decentralised renewable energy.  Australia has some of the best renewable energy resources in the world and if we are smart this can become part of our nations’ prosperity and sustainability. Many of our best renewable resources are located in regional Australia and as such represent a huge opportunity for regional communities to participate in and benefit from this transition. In their address, Jarra and Nicky will outline the economic, technical, social and policy drivers behind the rapid growth in renewable energy.

While there is no doubt that this clean energy transition will lead to more jobs for regional Australia, there are certain strategies and policies that can be put in place to maximise the benefits to regional economies and communities. Jarra and Nicky will talk through the specific opportunities of community energy and community-developer partnerships, highlighting case-studies such as Repower Shoalhaven, Denmark Community Windfarm and the Sapphire Wind Farm and outline how regional communities are leading the transition to clean energy.

Jarra Hicks cropped

Ms Jarra Hicks, Community Power Agency

In 2011, Nicky Ison and Jarra Hicks formed Community Power Agency to help grow a vibrant community energy sector in Australia.  Through Community Power Agency, they have worked with and visited over 50 community energy projects and organisations in Australia, Europe and North America.  Nicky and Jarra also help found the Coalition for Community Energy, which is working to address the barriers to the development of a wider Australian community energy sector.  Together they have been instrumental in the development of community energy policy in NSW, Victoria and federally.


The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016 to register for the conference CLICK HERE.

Early bird closes on 25th July so be quick to receive a discounted rate.


Sustainable Development Goals: a win-win for Australia

The Conversation

On September 25 world leaders will meet in New York to formalise the new Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 goals will guide efforts to reduce poverty and increase well-being, without destroying the Earth.


Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs) that applied only to developing countries, the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) will apply to all countries, including Australia.

The SDGs offer the opportunity for a “win-win” for Australia: by promoting more sustainable development we can improve the quality of life and opportunity here in Australia while also promoting prosperity in the many developing countries in our region. This will be vital for our economic future and security.

The SDGs are relevant to developed countries like Australia in two ways. First, they represent goals and targets that can make Australia itself more prosperous, fair and sustainable. Examples include improving gender equality and reducing non-communicable diseases. Second, they encourage actions by Australia that will contribute to global sustainable development. Examples here are more sustainable consumption and production, reduced carbon emissions, and support for overseas development.

Perhaps one of the most significant applications of the SDGs to Australia will be in helping reduce the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. A core principle underpinning the SDGs is that “no one is left behind”: the goals and targets are to be met for all income and social groups, particularly disadvantaged groups.

As one of the world’s most urbanised countries, goal 11, to make our cities safe, resilient and sustainable, is clearly important. As a dry continent with an important agricultural sector, ensuring sustainable water management in cities and rural areas is critical (goal 6).

And with some of the world’s highest carbon emissions per person, the goals of sustainable modern energy (goal 7), sustainable consumption and production (goal 12) and action to combat climate change (goal 13) are clearly relevant. Some of the social targets such as reducing inequality, strengthening prevention of substance abuse and increasing access to early childhood development also rated highly.

The SDGs and targets are meant to take into account different national realities and levels of development. Each government is able to set its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances. Potential Australia-specific targets could be for non-communicable diseases, technical and vocational skills, gender equality, water efficiency, affordable housing and sustainable cities. The SDGs and targets could be incorporated into national planning processes but also into those of the states and local government.

Perhaps most importantly, Australia should look for targets that incorporate the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. It is in this way that we will maximise well-being for all rather than continue the unsustainable path of trading off social and environmental needs for economic growth.

View the full article here.