The difference between a sand mine and a koala


The three headlines in the 98th Sustainable Hour on 11 November 2015:

A You Yangs Protection Group is formed
A new community campaign seeks to protect the You Yangs – a mountain area with forest and wildlife 20 minutes drive from Geelong – from the construction of a big sand mine right next to it.

Community-owned renewable energy gets a boost in Victoria
On 7 November 2015, State Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio launched Victoria’s most comprehensive guide for communities wanting to establish renewable energy projects. We bring an excerpt of her speech at the launch.

The Act on Climate Festival in Geelong
With only one week to go before the opening, festival coordinator Dan Cowdell comes in the studio to tell us all about what exciting climate change related events will be happening over the weekend 20-23 November 2015 in Geelong.

Audio excerpts: below on this page.

Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 98 (in full):

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Guests in the studio:
Janine Duffy, You Yangs protection group, Echidna Walkabout

Roger Smith, You Yangs protection group, Echidna Walkabout

Dan Cowdell, president, Geelong Sustainability, coordinator of the Act on Climate Festival task group leader of a local CORE group

Audio clips:
Lily D’Ambrosio launches ‘The Guide to Community-Owned Renewable Energy for Victorians’

Catherine Mann, Chief Economist, OECD, G20 Finance Deputy and Special Counsellor


Audio excerpts

…and quotes from the 98th Sustainable Hour


You Yangs Protection Group

Download the audio file (mp3)

“There is no net benefit to the community in this project. The You Yangs is such an iconic Australian landscape. Plus its got wildlife. Plus it is 45 minutes from Melbourne, one of the gateway cities of Australia. And no other city in Australia can match what we have got here in Geelong. But wildlife needs a bit of a buffer. They need the You Yangs, and they need the private land around it to be in good farming condition, because that is where they live. They need the water to be in good condition. This sand mine is threatening all of those things, and putting 500 per cent more trucks on the roads in the area.”
Janine Duffy

“You may have heard of Koala Clansy. He is an internationally renowned koala. He lives in the You Yangs. People come out to Australia to actually see him. You can imagine what an impact that is having. It sounds like it is small, but it is actually very, very big. And it is sustainable. The difference between that and a sand mine is sustainable only in a very short term, for a few jobs, but as we go on, it becomes less and less sustainable. And there is an aspect to this that people in our community should know about, and that is: once this permit is approved – if it is – it means that the people who have the permit have access to that land to do whatever they like, and we need to take this in the consideration for 1,000 years. And we, the community, have no further say in it. So it is very important that it is stopped now.”
Roger Smith

“The existing sand mines are a perfect example of how things have gone wrong in the past. The people who’ve run one of them have walked off. And they don’t need to do anything. They don’t need to repatriate the land. Because they can say: ‘We are going to pass it on to somebody else’. The permit is valid for a thousand years.”

“One of the best ways of supporting our cause is to go to our Facebook page, and click like. It may sound funny, but the modern social media is an incredible way of building up support. Get on it, and ‘like’ it. Then you build our support base. So that when we ask you, as someone who loves the You Yangs, when we ask you to get involved, you can very easily keep in touch with what is going on.

Also, write letters and submission to the Council. The submission period is meant to be finished, but that doesn’t matter. You can still keep on writing. Get involved politically. Go and talk to your local Member of Parliament, who by the way is John Eren, Minister for Tourism.”
Roger Smith

» See also: #SaveYouYangs

Sand mine “totally unacceptable”

Geelong Environment Council wrote in a submission to City of Greater Geelong’s Planning Department:

“It is unacceptable that destructive developments are permitted at all, and particularly adjacent to the You Yangs Forest Park. This important parkland attracts thousands of visitors each year and is the jewel in the crown in the landscape between Geelong and Melbourne. A further extension of the mined areas as proposed in application 692/2015 is totally unacceptable.
• Single use of valuable land.  The land around the You Yangs, and extending to Corio Bay is amongst the earliest settled farming areas in this region.  The land is valuable farmland sustainably producing grazing or crops annually.  It will be extraordinary if a permit is given which will permit the agricultural values of the land, which have existed for over 200 years, be sacrificed for a single use of sand production, with there being no chance of adequate restoration.  Apart from the loss of a valuable landscape and detriment to other landowners, the economic values of another 200 years of an annual food crop versus one extraction of the sand component of the soil must indicate that the sustainable and continuous use of the land for food production should be maintained.
• The proximity of the subject land to Hovell’s Creek and the fact that the tributaries of the creek will once again be diverted to accommodate a sand mine is unacceptable.  All efforts to restore the creek’s original course and to allow water to flow to Lascelles Dam should be made. This water body has immense values for birdlife in the region and is one of the three largest freshwater impoundments in the area (Sites of Faunal Significance in the Western Weetlands of Melbourne)
• The River Red Gums (Eucalyptus caladulensis) which are on the creek fringes and areas of sub soil dampness are magnificent.  Unfortunately with the lack of water flowing from the existing sand mine site and the prospect of the new site diverting any flow of water away from the natural flow means a number of the River Red Gums are becoming stressed or dying.  Many of these trees would predate white settlement., These trees are important for habitat for many species of avifauna and for marsupials.
• The whole area including the You Yangs and the major properties surrounding the hills are significant for wildlife.  Over 260 bird species have been recorded, with wildlife such as Fat-tailed Dunnarts, Koalas, Black Wallabies, Echidnas, Kangaroos, various lizards and snakes. The bio-link between the You Yangs and the Brisbane Ranges traverses the subject land, is a valuable link in wildlife habitat in this area.  Success of the bio-link with the planting of thousands of trees has been contributed to by local Landcare members, Further fragmentation of the land by another large sand mine is opposed.
• The Green Belt between Melbourne and Geelong is continually being reduced by urban development.  It is important that the existing green belt is maintained and not fragmented by mining enterprises such as this application.  The scarred areas of previous mining operations are unattractive in the landscape and illustrate short sighted once only use of the land.

The subject area is listed as a Site of Significance in the publication ‘Sites of Faunal Significance in the Western Wetlands of Melbourne.  This publication from the Wildlife Branch of DCE in 1991 verifies by research the value of the area for ecological attributes.  The Significant Landscape overlay verifies the values of the wider landscape and the Ramsar listing of the mouth of Hovells Creek indicates a requirement to protect the upper reaches of the creek.

Concern is expressed that the washing of the sand (recognized as poor quality) on the proposed site will cause a loss of water for Hovells Creek and Lascelles Dam with a subsequent loss of bird habitat.  The disposal of the sludge from the previous sand mine after the wash process has proven to be a damaging problem and will continue to present a problem to downstream areas. It will be exacerbated by a new sand mine permit.

The loss of amenity to the surrounding properties and tourists to the Forest Park will include constant and significant noise from the mine operations, sand and dust blown into the region from strong winds and the presence of many large trucks frequently on the narrow country roads.

The You Yangs area is important for many reasons,
• For country amenity for the farming community,
• Landscape values for tourists and residents of Geelong and Melbourne,
• Clean air, not polluted by blown sand, and magnificent views from the You Yangs. Park
• Tourists don’t wish to see landscapes scraped clean of all vegetation and only vast holes remaining looking like scenes from the desert. Tourism to the Geelong region is important.
• GEC members and other tourists were appalled to view the adjacent sand mine, with its ugly mounds around the perimeter and vast cleared sands inside the boundary.

For all of these reasons GEC is strongly opposed to the proposal for a permit to mine the sand on the property owned by Mr Bisinella and recommends that Permit No 692/2015 is refused.
Joan Lindros for GEC Committee

» Excerpt from


How-to guide for renewable energy community projects

Listen to Lily D’Ambrosio’s launch speech in full:

Download the audio file (mp3)

‘The Guide to Community-Owned Renewable Energy for Victorians’ is a booklet of around 40 pages which covers the commercial, technical, governance and regulatory aspects of what is required when you want to establish renewable energy projects. Ms D’Ambrosio launched the guide at Hepburn Wind’s annual general meeting at Daylesford on Saturday. This comes in the lead up to the release of the governments new Renewable Energy Action Plan.

The two turbines owned by Hepburn Wind is Australia’s first community-owned wind farm.

Environment groups such as Friends of the Earth, Geelong Sustainability and the community energy advocate Embark welcomed the release of the community energy guide and said it demonstrates an “all hands on deck” approach to growing renewables in the state.



“Ambitious Victorian Renewable Energy Targets will create jobs, unleash investment, and help tackle climate change. It’s something all political parties can support,” said Leigh Ewbank from Friends of the Earth Melbourne.

» Download the guide (PDF)

» Read more on:

» Media release:

» Article:

Dan Cowdell speaks about the CORE group and its visions for renewable energy in Geelong:

Download the audio file (mp3)


The Act on Climate Festival in Geelong

Dan Cowdell speaks about the Act on Climate Festival in Geelong:

Download the audio file (mp3)

» Sign up and find out more about this festival here:


Climate and the global economic outlook

Catherine Mann, Chief Economist at OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and G20 Finance Deputy and Special Counsellor, talks about the OECD Economic Outlook for November 2015:

» Video with slides and Catherine Mann’s presentation:

Catherine Mann explains the Climate Change High Risk Slide (seen above) at 29:28 in the video.

At 31:20 Carherine Mann talks about the momentum which has declined with regard to investment in renewable energy, since it peaked in 2011. “We need to address the issue and move forward more quickly now,” she says.

» More info on


Quotes, excerpts and links

…in relation to the 98th Sustainable Hour

And now… for the Good News

– actually, 43 pieces of good news, all together, compiled on as we go on

We are heading towards The Sustainable Hour no 100, and we want to do that with 100 good news stories in our hands. Last week we had 13. This week we have 43.

Can you help us find them?

» Read the positive news stories at:

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Australia urged not to be a roadblock to clean energy innovation at OECD

11 November 2015

With plans to direct billions of dollars of OECD support into cleaner energy technologies in developing countries to be debated at an OECD meeting next week, The Climate Institute has urged the Australian government not to undermine proposals from the USA, Japan and other advanced countries.

“Australia has an opportunity at next week’s meeting of the OECD to demonstrate its support for cleaner energy innovations in developing countries,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute today. “By supporting proposals from the USA, Japan and other OECD countries to curtail financing for the most polluting and least efficient coal projects in the world’s poor nations, Australia has an opportunity to help clear the path to cleaner energy technologies.”

The role of export credit agencies in coal financing has been on the agenda of the OECD for nearly two years. Export credit agencies are government agencies that provide government-backed loans, guarantees and insurance to companies to do business overseas in developing countries. Australia’s agency does not support coal power plants, but for countries like Japan they play an important role in financing billions of dollars’ worth of these projects in developing markets.

The USA and Japan have come to an informal agreement that could form the basis of an OECD statement on this issue in advance of the Paris Climate Summit in November/December.

“This agreement would essentially limit most export credit financing to the most efficient unabated coal plants, with some exceptions for the poorest nations. The World Bank, the USA and a number of EU countries have already moved unilaterally to implement controls on coal plant financing,” John Connor said. “While The Climate Institute would advocate stronger standards, the US-Japanese compromise proposal would be a step in the right direction.”

Behind the scenes, Australia is proposing an alternative that would support investments in older and more polluting “supercritical” coal power technology rather than restricting support mostly to “ultrasupercritical” coal fired generation in poorer nations.

“Why should we support lumping developing nations with anything but global best practice when it comes to energy options?” Connor asked.

“In advance of the Paris climate summit later in the month, it is very disappointing to hear reports of Australia pushing for older technology, more polluting, coal plants to be financed,” he said. “Australia risks further enhancing an older reputation as a roadblock to innovation.”

The Climate Institute encourages the Australian government to take a fresh look at its position and to cease undermining efforts to direct global capital to cleaner outcomes.

John Connor, CEO, The Climate Institute

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24 Hours of Reality video streaming

On Friday 13 November 2015

The annual live broadcast event 24 Hours of Reality is back! Millions of people around the world will be watching as 24 Hours of Reality showcases some of the great solutions happening in Australia right now.

Last year 17 million people tuned in to watch 24 Hours of Reality and 88.5 million people connected with the #ClimateHope message on social media.

This year you can help spread the word using #24Hours and #WhyImWatching.

Wherever you are, tune in on 13 November for 24 hours of Reality as influencers and artists join Al Gore to spotlight stories around the globe of people working together to solve climate change.

Tune in between 4 and 7pm AEST for the Australian segment with inspiring interviews and short docos from people in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania, beamed live from Sydney and featuring several Climate Leaders.

» Go to:

Viewing party in Melbourne:

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Act on Climate Festival


Festival flyer (PDF)

Opening Night

Market Day at Steampacket Gardens

Act on Climate Team at Run Geelong

Film Evening – ‘This Changes Everything’

On Saturday 21 Nov: Waves 2 Woods
Waves 2 Woods is a live music + environmental festival in Anglesea on 21 November 1pm – 8.30pm
Join the crew for a cracking day out with good mates for some top shelf acts, inspiring eco legends, craft beer, local wine, kids activities + more.

» Go to for all the info.

On Friday 27 Nov: The People’s Climate March in Melbourne
Oxfam wrote: “On the last weekend of November, join millions of people around the world who are taking to the streets and marching for a fair and safe climate. This is a historic moment!
It’s a chance to stand with our friends across the world who are already being hit with the brutal impacts of climate change. A chance to show our government that we are standing up and walking away from a dirty, polluted past. And that they must follow. A chance to show the whole world that from here on in, we’re all in.

Show the world that here in Australia, we care. And we want to see real action on climate.

» RSVP to the People’s Climate March now:

» Geelong departure with train to the People’s Climate March in Melbourne

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…and the weather:

Current weather ‘a window into the future’, consequences of warming oceans

“As Yemen braces for a second storm in the wake of unprecedented Tropical Cyclone Chapala, which brought seven years worth of rain to the war-torn Middle Eastern nation in just two days, weather anomalies related to the ocean continue to grab headlines worldwide. An El Niño system along the Equator, and an unusually persistent zone of warm water off the North American coast, called “the Blob,” and a longer-term cycle of heating and cooling known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which, “may be switching from a cooling phase to a warming phase,” are all taking place simultaneously and underscoring the impacts climate change is having on the world’s oceans. A leading scientist with NOAA called these simultaneous occurrences as “wake up call” to get serious about tackling climate change. Beyond scientists and meteorologists, the calls for taking climate action are being voiced by a chorus of leaders including national security leaders, parent organizations, private sector innovators and social justice leaders, all of which see the impacts of increased and more powerful extreme weather events through the lenses of threats to security, economic stability, and families.”
The Tree

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Pete Seeger, American singer