28 May, 2015

LCC Budget and Operational Plan 2015-16

Click on the council letter to enlarge

Draft 2015-2016 Operational Plan
Community Information Meeting Notes
Held at Capertee Valley on 29 April 2015 at 6.00pm.
Present: The Mayor, Councillor Statham, Deputy Mayor; Councillor Thompson, Councillor Hunter, Roger Bailey, Juli-Ann Brozek, Iain Stewart, Andrew Muir, Deborah McGrath.

Approximately 30 members of the Capertee Valley community

1. Council Communications
There was discussion about how Council communicates with the community. It was noted thatparts of the valley do not receive Council Connections (there are two postcodes 2846 and 2849) and have difficulty with electronic media due to internet service. The question was asked “why doesn’t Council distribute the newsletter and other information with the Rate Notices?”

Council Connections has a distribution of approximately 10,000 householders in the Lithgow LGA and currently is distributed four times per year by Australia Post Unaddressed Delivery Service, placed on Council’s website and also distributed via an email distribution list.

In 2015/16, Council will be distributing one edition of Council Connections via the rates notice per year. This will be the first rates notice which is mailed out to approximately 9,500 rate payers in August. It was noted subsequent rate notices reduce in number due to people paying in full. Furthermore not all rate payers live in the area and many residents who live in the area are not ratepayers will not receive a copy of this edition.

The October Edition of Council Connections will be replaced by the 2nd Annual Year In Review.

This is a 50 page glossy document which provides a review of Council Activities for the previous financial year (2014/15). This is distributed to local businesses throughout the area and is available on Council’s website.

The summer and autumn editions of Council Connections will be distributed via the Australia Post Unaddressed Delivery Service. Council will ensure that both 2846 and 2849 post codes are included on the list of post codes for delivery.

2. Fit for the Future
The community member’s present raised concerns that they were not consulted on this issue and did not have the opportunity to comment. They request that the opportunity to view Council’s submission to the State Government.

The General Manager noted that ‘Fit for the Future’ has been publicised widely and that the first round of consultation closed on 1 May. It is intended that a second round of consultation, time permitting, will be undertaken prior to Council’s submission being finalised. In the event that a second round of consultation is undertaken this will be promoted through local media, Council’s website and Facebook pages.

3. Rates Notice Mail Outs
The question was asked – why does Council mail out multiple accounts in separate envelopes to the one address, can’t all accounts be combined or sent in one envelope?
The notices are matched by Council's printing house and where possible multiple  notices are included in the one envelope. The software checks run during printing would not be able to cater for all matches, as the names and formatting must be identical for example an extra space or the names being in a different order would result in the notices not being matched for enveloping.

3. Amalgamation
How come Lithgow Council hasn’t been asked to amalgamate?
The General Manager provided a general response on this matter. However more information is available at: www.localgovernmentreview.nsw.gov.au in the ‘Final Report – Revitalising Local Government’.

4. Waste Charges
Why are we charged to use the tip?
The rural waste charge is applied to properties in rural areas for access to Council’s Waste Facilities and Transfer Stations. It covers costs associated with maintaining these facilities.

5. Glen Davis Tip
A number of suggestions were raised regarding better management of the Glen Davis Tip
including:  Implementing community management of the tip.
 Better signage at the tip indicating what should go where and profiting scavenging.
 Someone employed for a buyback shop.
In addition the following issues were raised:
 TV’s are being smashed for the copper wiring and glass is where you drive.
 Refrigerators – being smashed and releasing the compressor gas into the ozone.
 $10,000 previously in the budget for a transfer station in reserve. It is no longer in there, what has happened to this money?
 Too much scrap metal and green waste at the tip, can it be taken away?
 Can the feral cats be eliminated?

Following the meeting, Council has started to investigate the issues of signage, Greenwaste and steel. The Local Land Services have been contacted seeking advice on feral cat control.
Discussions have commenced with interested community members regarding Community Management of the tip. Council is now awaiting representation from the community regarding this matter.

6. Signage
Can a sign be placed at the boundary between Mid-Western and Lithgow Local Government Areas near Mt Marsden?
This matter will be investigated.

7. Tourism
What is Council doing to capitalise on tourism in the area?
The Tourism Advisory Committee sets 3 key actions from the Destination Management Plan –
Tourism Strategy annually to be implemented. So far this year, Council has installed two RV Friendly locations in the LGA at Kremer Park and Lake Wallace. The Tourism Manager has attended a number of Major tourism expos including one in New Zealand where she gave a presentation on the Local Government Area. A number of items promoting tourism were included in the presentation for 2015/16 including allocation of $40,000 per annum for three years to develop and implement a regional marketing campaign.

Donna Upton from Capertee Valley Alliance also outlined some of the tourism strategies they have been working on including a detailed submission for Gateway signage to the valley at Capertee and Rylstone/Kandos, attendance at the Australasian Bird Fair, lobbying for the upgrade of Pearsons Lookout and working with Council to develop the lookout, working with National Park and the second printing of the Bird Brochure which was funded by Council.

8. Roads
a. Port Macquarie Road
It was noted that the endangered species on Port Macquarie Road may not be as endangered as first thought, it is now flourishing. The road has only been graded 1½ times in 10 years. As the road leads to the National Park it is embarrassing. It also has increased traffic now due to the National Park. Can Council please grade this road?
The General Manager, Group Manager Operations, Deputy Mayor Councillor Thompson and
Councillor Hunter inspected the road prior to the meeting and agree that the road needs a lot of work. Council has commenced discussions with the National Parks and Wildlife Service to ascertain where they get their road base and whether this can be used on the road.

b. Grading of roads in the Valley
Is there a timeline when a grader will be in the Valley? It was stated at the meeting that previously an undertaking had been given for all roads to be graded once a year. It was asked if they could be inspected annually.
All roads in the Capertee Valley are inspected on a quarterly or as needs basis. Grading commenced on the Glen Davis Road during the week beginning 11 May.

c. Glen Alice Road to Mt Marsden
When will the line marking be done at Mt Marsden?
As Line marking is undertaken by a contractor this will be done when there is a sufficient amount of road works to be marked in the valley.

Can sealing the 400m between sealed surfaces on Glen Alice Road be completed?
Subject to funding this will be undertaken during the 2015-16 year.

Can Council remove the overhanging branches Glen Alice Road as they are dangerous?
Due to budget constraints limited removal of dangerous overhanging branches will be undertaken on a restricted basis.

Can Council resurface Glen Alice Road between Port Macquarie Road and the northern entrance to Dunville Loop?
Routine maintenance will be undertaken on this section of Glen Alice Road.

d. Genowlan Road
The pipe on Genowlan Road has been put in the wrong location. It needs to be moved. It was noted that when Council was contacted regarding the relocation of this pipe that the resident was told to contact the contractor who installed it. Council is the contractor. Can this be relocated?
An onsite inspection to ascertain the issues with this matter will be coordinated by the Group Manager Operations.

e. Road side verges
Can Council develop a program of regularly spraying the verges on Glen Alice, Glen Davis and Noola Roads rather than slash/mow them. Mowing brings kangaroos to eat the fresh pick which is dangerous on the road. Spraying does a better job. Also grass is growing through the tar in a lot of spots.
Council will be slashing and then spraying the verges in coming weeks.

f. Noola Road
This road receives the least amount of maintenance of all roads in the valley. The sealed section is threatened by encroaching weeds and grasses and the surface of the unsealed section becomes dangerous in wet weather.
The encroaching grass/weeds will be sprayed as part of the verge spraying program.

g. Regional Roads Status
Why doesn’t Glen Davis Road receive funding from State Government? The General Manager explained that Glen Davis Road was removed from the Regional Roads register when the boundary changes occurred during 2014/05. It was requested that Council lobby the State Government to have Regional Roads Status reinstated on Glen Davis Road.
Council will write to the Roads & Maritime Services District Manager regarding this matter.

9. Emergency Bypass – Glen Davis
It was noted that during flooding the bridge to Glen Davis is impassable. Is it possible to have the height of the bridge raised as the road used previously as an emergency bypass is through private property and the owners lock the gate?
Unfortunately, Council cannot raise the bridge. A new bridge would be required to be built insitu which would require significant funding. As to the previous bypass, this is through private property and Council does not have any power to enforce the use of a road through this property as an emergency bypass.

22 May, 2015

Lithgow City Council 2015-2016 Draft Budget and Operational Plan Community Information Session Capertee Valley 29/4/2015


Lithgow Council 2015-2016 Draft Budget

Capertee Valley allocation of funds in the Budget. Residents Submissions please remember to;

 P O BOX 19

CVA Inc. recommends that individuals who live at Capertee, Glen Davis, Glen Alice, Bogee and Mt Marsden put in submissions to the budget in particular if they have concerns with the roads and signage and indeed other matters that may directly effect them.  At the meeting 29th April. it was clear that there was $100,000.00 set aside for timber bridge improvements. However CVA was informed by Operations Manager Iain Stewart that this was spent on a consultant to inspect bridges and testing.

Please note that there is no funding allocated in the budget for new seals or re-surfacing the old bitumen on the main road through the valley.

(See page 54) under Developing our Built Environment, item 100011, Rural Roads gravel Re-sheeting item 100030 across the Lithgow Local Government area $150,000.00,

Roads to Recovery Funding 100031 $560000.00  (page 57) nil allocated to Capertee Valley - Glen Davis/Glen Alice Road (sometimes called the Capertee Road Glen Davis timber bridge improvement page 58 item 100011 $100,000.00

Town entry signage will be installed at Capertee for the Capertee Valley and we are hoping a smaller sign will be installed at Mt Marsden end of the Capertee Valley.

Council will be preparing a Rural Lands STUDY Strategic Land Use COST $80,000.00.

Under Transport page 74 Rural Sealed Roads rehabilitation program  Nil

rural Roads gravel re-sheeting page 74 Nil.

Port Macquarie Road, at the April meeting the general Manager inspected the road and graders will repair this road in this financial year. An approach will be made to National Parks to see where they get their gravel from as from the park gate the road was a perfect gravel road.

It was noted that under the Economic Development Strategy that Lithgow City Council allocated $90,000.00  towards Halloween event in the 2015-2016 budget. 

CVA Inc. was told by Council officers at the meeting their were not enough funds in the budget for rural roads, 

The issue is that allocated in the budget under "Strengthening our Economy" the draft Operational Plan budget total is $251,214.00.

Capertee Valley community will appreciate that there may be some benefit to the businesses in Lithgow Town, we see no benefit to the Economics of the valley such as Agriculture/Farming or Tourism, National Parks, International Bird Trail and the Psyfari festival that attracts approx. 3000 people every year.

Signage, and Roads  are the main issues in the Capertee Valley and if the roads including secondary roads are not maintained to a safe standard then it WILL have an affect on our economy which Lithgow and surrounds will not benefit either, after all the Sydneysiders and International tourists drive through Lithgow to arrive here.

CVA Inc. thank the Mayor, Maree Statham, Deputy Mayor, Ray Thompson, Clr Col Hunter, General Manager, Roger Bailey and Senior staff for holding the information session in the valley on 29th April 2015.

So, we respectfully ask that in Council's deliberations, once they receive submissions from the rate payers of Lithgow consider CVA's submission and the individual community members.

Issued by CVA Inc.

13 May, 2015

Koalas under threat in the Liverpool Plains near Gunnedah

One of the most important populations of koalas in NSW is at risk if the NSW Government-approved Shenhua Watermark Coal Project on the Liverpool Plains near Gunnedah goes ahead.
That’s why we urgently need your assistance to keep our Environmental Defence Fund strong. So that we can be there to help communities hold companies and government decision-makers to account.
Today, this Fund is more important than ever.
Did you know that the Federal Government recently reinstated funding to all community legal centres except Environmental Defenders Offices?

This has significantly impacted our ability to provide the community with the support they need.
The Watermark Coal Project case is just one of the current cases where EDO NSW is acting for the community and will need financial support.
On behalf of Upper Mooki Landcare, we have lodged an appeal in the Land and Environment Court to have approval for the mine overturned so that our iconic koalas are properly protected.
The group do not want to see koalas and their habitat destroyed – so they came to us.
Koalas are listed as a vulnerable species in NSW and under Federal law, with habitat loss and fragmentation recognised as key threats. In its assessment of the mine, the NSW Planning Assessment Commission stated: “The [Gunnedah koala] population has reduced significantly, as a result of droughts and heatwaves, with the estimated reduction of up to 70% since 2009.”

Gunnedah is rightly known as the Koala Capital of the World,” said Nicola Chirlian from Upper Mooki Landcare, “but the approval of this massive open cut mine will destroy prime koala habitat.
If the mine goes ahead, 847 hectares of preferred koala habitat will be cleared.
The case will argue that the NSW Government approval failed to properly consider whether the mine was likely to significantly affect the local population of koalas, a threatened species, as required under the law.
We know that if it proceeds, the Watermark Coal Project will be responsible for destroying koala food and shelter trees, increasing the risk to koalas from vehicle strike, and removing important wildlife corridors, potentially isolating any animals that remain.”
We think that the approval should be overturned, as the mine failed to properly assess their impact on the local population of koalas. But it’s not an argument we can make alone. We need the expertise that only EDO NSW can provide,” said Nicola.
Each time we help the community defend the environment it can cost up to $100,000. Will you help us to help groups like Upper Mooki Landcare protect our wildlife and their homes, and make sure we have the resources to advise the next community that comes to us for help?
Please give generously to our end of financial year appeal. Without your support over the last few difficult years, EDO NSW would not be here to assist communities in need - but we still need your help.
With our expertise, the passion of communities who care, and your support, we can continue protecting places that are precious to us all.
We have been defending the environment for 30 years but there are new threats emerging every day. Thank you for helping us to keep it safe.

Jeff Smith
Executive Director

11 May, 2015

EDO under threat again - Donations to Environmental Organisations being Questioned !

Full information is available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/reo.
On Thursday 26 March 2015 the Committee adopted an inquiry referred by the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, asking the Committee to inquire into and report on the Register of Environmental Organisations. The Committee is inquiring into the administration, transparency and effectiveness of the Register of Environmental Organisations under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.

The Committee invites interested persons and organisations to make submissions addressing the terms of reference by 21 May 2015.

For information on how to make a submission, go to our Making a submission to a Committee Inquiry page.

The EDO have assisted the Capertee Valley on several occasions in the pursuit of the environmental protection over the 2 majestic and distinctive mesas - Airly and Genowlan
EDO NSW: standing up for communities and the environment
Jemilah Hallinan, EDO NSW Outreach Director
2014 began with major government funding cuts, later a landmark victory in the NSW Court of Appeal to stop a coal mine expansion by Rio Tinto, then a legal action which made coal seam gas company Santos hand over water testing data to farmers, another which stopped Whitehaven’s bulldozers from winter and spring clearing at Maules Creek and finally we received an amazing $500,000 donation.
Despite the funding cuts, which were announced a year ago today, EDO NSW provided more than 20 community workshops across NSW, 1,000 free legal advices, ran 10 public interest law court cases and made over 40 policy submissions to the NSW and Federal Governments.
The resilience and hard work of EDO NSW was rewarded later in the year with a $500,000 donation from former Greens MP Sylvia Hale, the most generous single donation EDO NSW has ever received.
 “With State governments weakening environmental laws and the Federal Government planning to hand over its environmental approval powers to the States, the role of EDO NSW has never been more important,” Ms Hale said after making the donation.
Ms Hale’s donation was emblematic of increasing public support for EDO NSW and an acknowledgement of the crucial role it plays in levelling the legal playing field between the public and big developers and miners. 
The role of EDO NSW in maintaining a fairer legal system has also been acknowledged by the Productivity Commission, the Federal Government’s own advisor on economic policy. In its Access to Justice report, released in December, the commission recommended the reversal of last year’s pre-Christmas decision by Federal Attorney General George Brandis to remove all Federal funding to the EDOs around Australia.
During the year EDO NSW had a landmark victory for the residents of Bulga, who have been fighting off a coal mine expansion which threatens the Hunter Valley village, near Singleton. In April. the NSW Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the Bulga residents, upholding the refusal of the Warkworth coal mine expansion by the NSW Land and Environment Court last year.

Bulga residents after their legal victory in the NSW Supreme Court
However, following the Bulga court decision, the NSW Government changed  the rules to prioritise the economic benefits of mining projects over environmental and social considerations such as dust, noise, pollution and impacts on threatened species. Mining giant Rio Tinto is now making a third attempt to get the project approved. EDO NSW is advising the Bulga residents on their legal options.
EDO NSW is also acting for a local community group, Friends of Tumblebee, in a challenge to Cessnock City Council’s approval of a steel fabrication and workshop facility to be constructed on land which is habitat to the critically endangered bird, the Regent Honeyeater. Unless stopped, the proposed development will clear 3.2 hectares of habitat critical to the survival of the Regent Honeyeater. The case will return to court in April 2015.
Earlier this year Whitehaven Coal was forced to halt its winter and spring clearing operations for its Maules Creek open cut coal mine in the Leard State Forest following legal action by the Maules Creek Community Council (MCCC), represented by EDO NSW. Restricting clearing to summer and autumn ensures threatened species are not hibernating or breeding, and gives them a fighting chance of survival. Whitehaven plans to clear 1664 hectares of forest which provides habitat for numerous threatened species, including bats, birds, koalas and reptiles. An area of 544 ha of this forest is the nationally listed critically endangered ecological community, Box Gum Woodland, which is facing an extremely high risk of extinction.
Coal seam gas and its potential impacts on water resources has been a major concern for rural communities. A local farming group, Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord (MGPA), represented by EDO NSW, took legal action to require Santos to provide any information relevant to potential groundwater contamination of a farmer’s freshwater bore in the Pilliga forest near Narrabri. EDO NSW also made submissions on a range of NSW Government changes to the regulation of the CSG industry following the release of the Chief Scientist’s report which recommended a regulatory overhaul and the implementation of world’s best practice.

Another focus of EDO NSW’s policy work was the Federal Government’s proposed handover of its environmental assessment and approval powers to the States and Territories. We have consistently raised concerns about the inadequacies of State laws to address national environmental issues. The handover would mean States and Territories will approve mines, coal seam gas and other development projects which impact World Heritage Areas, the Great Barrier Reef, wetlands of international significance, migratory species, threatened species and water resources. The States will also be responsible for approving uranium mines.

Contamination of Sydney Water & further protection of the Gardens of Stones Unique Landscapes & Biodiversity !

Stop Springvale Colliery's Extension Plan - write to the Planning Assessment Commission

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05 May, 2015

Capertee Valley Garden Group May

  Garden Group meets 8th May

Hi All
We couldn't seem to pull off an April meeting because of everyone's Easter commitments, but there will be a May group at Wendy Williams place, so save the date!  Her address is "Wiraki" 2511 Glen Alice Rd and it will be a 10 am start.  Looking forward to seeing everyone then & hope you're all enjoying this lovely rain
best wishes 
PS We also need hosts for June & July, so if anyone is interested please let us know!

04 May, 2015

Save Westpac Rylstone

On the 20 April 2015, the Westpac Retail & Business Banking Group Executive announced that there would be no changes to the existing branch network due to the 'Bank@Post' arrangement. A week later, Westpac starts announcing the process of dismantling it's Instore Branch network.

Did you know that Westpac Instores represents 45% of regional bankings physical point of presence.

click here to read more on facebook

My personal view is that Westpac has lost it and I wont be queuing up elsewhere, keep our existing Westpac instore branch.  I need a bit of privacy in my banking. Bruce