Archive for August 25th, 2013

Warren Roberts, current CEO at Stonnington Council, has been awarded the Keith Wood Medal at the IPWEA International Public Works Conference held in Darwin 11th to 15th August 2013.


IPWEAvic Information Series Event was held on Wednesday 21 August 2013 9am til 1pm at Ballarat Golf Club in Ballarat.

A light luncheon was generously provided by Biosis.  The event was especially significant as it was part of biosis celebration of 30 years in the consulting industry.  Congratulations Biosis!

The event was chaired by Adam Sewell, the IPWEAvic convenor of the IPWEAvic Central Highlands Regional Group. Delegates from Local Government, Department of Environment and Primary Industries, VicTrack, Consultants were represented at the event.

The delegates were treated to 5 presentations and then had a chance to participate in a discussion with the expert panel.

Biosis Overview – John Miller, Principal Botanist at Biosis

John’s overview stressed the importance of the following three items when looking at the environmental risk in projects:

1. Gather data

  • Know what is important
  • What data to collect
  • How to collect the data
  • How much data to collect
  • When data should be collected

2. Interpretation of data

  • Implications of the data
  • It is a shows topper
  • Impact minimised

3.  The decision

  • Good data
  • Proper interpretation
  • Robust discussion
  • Defensible position

Regulators View – Don Hough, Director Regulation and Approvals, Department of Environment and Primary Industries
Don shared his thoughts on how environmental risks emerge through the Project Cycle, considering the following elements:

  • Finance
  • Design
  • Construct
  • Operate maintain
  • Decommission

He stressed that if you are seeking to address environmental risk in the operate/maintain and decommission stages of a project then it could get very costly, an example being with contaminated land.
The cost of environmental risk needs to be linked to cost and performance and an allowance made fro its management in the operating budget.  If not thought about at the beginning of projects it will become an issue in the operating stage and you will be expected to manage the environmental risk within the operating budget.

Optimisation of cost vs performance
Set cost and make decision on this information
In 1980 the cost of collecting environmental information was low but over time as more money was available and the public demanded better information more money was spent on collection of environmental data.  There is a point where the investment in collection of data gives only marginal returns

Transnational private standards are scalable and transferrable

  • Risk. ISO 3100
  • Environmental management IOS 14000
  • Quality ISO 9000
  • Audit ISA

Wind farm experience

  • Business model
  • First mover to mature industry
  • Social licence to operate
  • Regulatory reform
  • Changing standards
  • Changing focus, risk and it one
  • Transaction costs, one stop shop

At present the windfarm industry has a lot of approvals but not too many are on the ground. The industry is looking at introducing better efficiency in the industry working towards a one step process for windfarm approvals rather than a few steps which are contested at each stage.

A foundation for change

    • Cultural

Productivity commission environmental in projects -Rework Resubmitting documents Clear accountability to deliver Right info at right time Quality systems is good

  • Technical

– Project definition
– Risk assessment and management

The department has learnt that Road networks are critical.  Initially the assumption had been made that road networks were sufficient to carry additional construction traffic but should have considered the windfarm projects like a mine construction site  as its footprint with truck movements varying from the norm.

  • Administrative

– Transaction cost
– Allocation of accountability

Trying to move risk from ourselves to someone else does’t work but results in higher costs.

Windfarms Bird Collision Model Ian Smales, Principal Zoologist, Biosis
50 commercial wind farms operating
Biodiversity for wind farm
Small footprint
Road network is the major impact
Flora and fauna impact small

Specialist investigations
Aerial surveys used to find and map breeding sites.  Migratory flight paths of birds documented.  A buffer zone then placed.
Ultrasonic call surveys undertaken to find bats

It seems a bit of a myth that large numbers of birds die in collision with windfarms.  This is due to information gathered from poorly designed windfarms in California
Initial site section is important and windfarms should be proactively designed to minimise potential risk of bird collision
Actual conclusions from data collected from 916 turbines in SE Australia, 8 windfarms over 9 yrs shows 121 individual collisions comprising 24 species of birds,  6 specks of bats.  A quarter of the bird collisions were magpies, 19% kestrels, 6% wedge tail eagles (equating to 8 actual wedge tail eagles)
This data can be compared to aviation data for bird strikes where we find 12,790 strikes for the 10 year period 2002 to 2012 which includes 90 eagles, 1,566 birds of prey and 767 bats.

Ian has developed a model for collision risk for birds
The model uses a cumulative assessment methodology and needs good demographic info on births (deaths and marriages).  Inputs to risk model take into account the species of birds and how rare they are.  eg there are only around 30 Orange bellied parrot left in the wild so if one is killed it is a great loss.
Helmeted honeyeaters have been well studied as are the Brolgas on south west Victoria. It is interesting to note that the population of Cranes (which are a simlar bird to the Brolga) in Europe number between 5000  to 7000 and migrate throughout Germany without many collisions with wind turbines.  It appears that risk of bird collisions with windfarms is low.  This is monitored by the number of dead animals found but is not conclusive due to predators on carcasses so needs to be in terms of total pop loss of a species.  The aim is to retain population

Moyne Case Study – Russell Guest
Moyne has 9 wind farms with current permits for 4 more,
MacArthur has 42 turbines and is the largest farm.
Windfarms are situated

      • in Lava flow country for good foundations,
      • are up to 90m-100m in height to catch the wind,
      • near the power grid that runs to Melbourne (There is one farm that has a permit issued seven years ago but is too far away from the grid to make it worthwhile developing further.)

Avoiding unacceptable impacts on flora and fauna is the aim.  Agreement is rarely  reached in the application stage.  Consultants studies guide councils to the significance of any flora and fauna.   Remnant native veg is beside the roadsides which is impacted by traffic.  Use of native vegetation offsets are generally found with native vegetation on the site destroyed.  Transmission lines pylons are required   to be located where they avoid native vegetation, the bigger issue of impact is in the access tracks.  It would be best for developers to try and get all the required native veg clearance permissions at once, with one offset plan to avoid administration
Major trucks are quarry trucks and the council doesn’t know which quarry the proponent is going to use until two weeks before construction commences.

The main contention of those opposed to windfarms is in the accuracy of the data.

Environment and noise impacts are monitored by council.

There is a need to pass on the knowledge and experiences of windfarms to give capacity to deal with it next time

Impacts of Windfarms on Roads – Norbert Michael, ARRB
Norbert took the delegates through the type of data required to be collected for local roads that may have windfarms construction traffic.

Establishing an adequate pre construction traffic condition baseline to determine the point in the pavements life cycle, then undertaking a survey during construction to make sure the construction traffic is operating in the expected way and along the expected routes and then post construction.  The data needs to look at the surface and the structural condition of the pavement and include traffic counts.

Using a Family life cycle costing approach is recommended to give you the tools for a defensible position

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