Council Plan Submissions

  • Community owned power grid – Proposal Paul Hosking 2

Access to affordable energy is an essential part of modern life. The changes to state-run power generation over the last five decades are leading us towards a precipice of shortages and skyrocketing electricity prices.

Rapid technological changes to the fundamentals of electrical generation, distribution, and storage are ushering in new business models and ways to manage power that Macedon Ranges residents should be taking advantage of.

It is now time for local councils to become involved in energy. Planning ahead for the generation, storage and transmission demands of the future.

The Council needs to grab the opportunity to improve energy supply, affordability and sustainability for all residents of the Macedon Ranges.

The Shire Council is ideally positioned to take part in the changing landscape of energy supply because they manage many locations that could be utilised for power generation and storage, as well as having the personnel and expertise to maintain the physical assets, lines and poles.

“Re-Municipalisation” of power grids is something that is happening around the globe. For example

Community ownership of the power grid is the best way to give all Macedon Ranges residents access to renewable and new technology energy, not just those that can afford private generation and storage, AKA going off grid.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council must set in motion a plan to bring affordable, renewable energy to all residents of the Macedon Ranges.

While technological developments are set to change generation and storage the one thing that won’t change will be the need for reliable power transmission; the physical power grid will be constant whatever happens.

  • Energy saving advice for Macedon Ranges residents Proposal – Paul Hosking 2017

Living in the Macedon Ranges means we have a high reliance on energy, we have to drive a long way to work, school or play and our climate is harsh requiring heating in winter and cooling in the summer. With most of our energy sourced from unsustainable or carbon intensive supplies, life in the Macedon Ranges is far from environmentally sustainable and will become increasingly unaffordable.

Many residents are keen to reduce their energy use. They are looking for ways to save money by using less power and find sustainable ways to heat and cool their homes, but most are unsure how to get started.

While new homes have high Eco standards that make them far more efficient, most houses in the Macedon Ranges are old and would not come close to the modern standards.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve found most “eco” companies are good at partisan advice designed to sell their products, and rarely able to provide holistic advice that is outside their expertise. It is a real challenge for homeowners to know what products, strategies or modifications to a home will reduce the energy burden and achieve the best bang for the buck result. The challenge is multiplied by the complexity of our climate in the Macedon Ranges.

Residents need access to an independent expert with local knowledge that can advise on best practice energy saving for the homeowner. Services like this are available from other government bodies, but again, in my experience specific local knowledge is lacking.

I feel the council should provide an advice service, which gives residents access to an expert who can provide independently tailored information on how homeowners can reduce energy consumption.

This service could be a “means-tested subsidised” or full cost recovery.


  • Town Level Discussion Events- Ross Colliver
“Support town level discussion between community groups, and regular discussion between residents. On local issues, take one specific issue known to be salient in that town, each quarter, and work through the options residents see for improving things. To do this, run two sessions a week apart, the first to open up the options, the second to pick the best out of the options. Do this three times a year on different issues, so you draw in interests across different kinds of residents. Support this process with good session design that mixes lots of talk time with solid information on the current situation and its history, independent facilitation, refreshments at the end, and publicity on the events, what is said at them, and what people who go think about the events.”


  • Consultation using existing community initiatives proposal…John Brookes

“The community is already organising ways to better formulate and articulate its vision in the form of fora and community meetings. Equally, individual councilors have indicated, by their attendance at the meetings and fora, that they are willing to listen. This is an excellent beginning to a pattern that must continue to form. For the council to not lose the faith of the electorate it is imperative that it continue to consult and communicate via the avenues the community (i.e. the electorate) has been creating. I think internet surveys are a poor substitute for this because they take this initiative away from the electorate and the methods it has used to express itself. In essence, continue supporting those community-led initiatives that have brought the electoral changes to the Macedon Ranges that saw this council take office.”


  • Submission to MRSC Strategic Plan from Kyneton Transition Hub – February 2017

Kyneton Transition Hub is a part of the international transition town movement and is concerned with sustainability issues in a broad sense. Our special focus is on building strong and resilient communities in a future of peak oil and climate change.

Our vision for the Macedon Ranges region includes initiatives to make our region more resilient and sustainable and also ways to contribute to a more resilient and sustainable world. For these reasons we recommend the following issues are included in the next council strategic plan:

  • Divestment – ensure MRSC does not have investments in fossil fuel and other unsustainable industries. Adopt an ethical investment policy for all money held by the council.
  • Invest in renewable energy for council owned buildings and encourage and facilitate the same for community-owned buildings in the region. Encourage and support community-owned renewable energy initiatives like the solar and wind farms in Woodend.
  • Urban agriculture should be encouraged through edible trees on nature strips, a clear and positive nature strip garden policy, support for community and neighbourhood gardens, and encouraging edible gardens on under-utilised council land and open spaces.
  • Support for local agriculture that recognises the importance of resilience and equity not just economic issues. Help build links between producers and their local customers, but also address the issue of food insecurity as it affects the disadvantaged in our community.
  • Resilience and sustainability can only be achieved if equitable solutions are sought. This relates to food security issues, but also homelessness and access to housing. Council should work with other groups to help secure equitable outcomes for all.
  • Work with local communities and community groups to preserve and enhance our local parks, botanic gardens and nature reserves.
  • Bring sustainability issues to the fore in all council decision-making. This may require a sustainability reference group that includes community members and experts to ensure sustainable outcomes.
  • Enhance council decisions by embedding community consultation into the processes. This is likely to be some form of deliberative democracy such as citizens juries.

This is only a brief outline of our key concerns. We would be happy to discuss this in more detail as the council plan takes shape.

Contact details:

Julie McLaren, Community Liaison

Kyneton Transition Hub

(03) 5422 3023

  • Critique of the Council Survey… Rob Bakes

Dear Sir,

I have attempted to fill out the New Council Plan Survey over the last few weeks. My slowness and reluctance to complete the task stems from my fear that ranking the issues in the manner requested, would give an inaccurate indication of what I consider important. For these reasons I have decided to put in a written submission which perhaps will make my preferences clearer.

Here are the areas which the Council needs to prioritise.

Priority No.1. Community engagement

A Forum for Democratic Renewal has over the last twelve months engaged the community in “kitchen table conversations” right across the Shire. The results can be accessed on our web site. The effectiveness of these forums, and the usefulness of deliberation, I think surprised everyone. Surely the results of this valuable work should be included in the current discussions about the new Council plan. Community engagement needs to involve more than filling in surveys.

Citizens juries have recently been used very successfully by local councils in Australia for a range of issues. Remember the deliberation of the jury is a public accessed event so anyone can go along and witness the discussion and dialogue.

Priority No.2. Carbon neutrality as an organisation. Our community collected over three thousand signatures for the Macedon Ranges Clean Energy Petition. Isn’t it time that the council took some notice of these signatures and came up with a plan which will take it to carbon neutrality as an organisation. What about having another look at the Million Dollar Roof Top Solar project as well.

Priority No.3. Partnering the community

Partnering the community for a new focus on sustainable initiatives which will broaden our idea of development to include much more than economic and business outcomes.

Priority No. 4. Governance, performance indicators, and financial transparency

There is a perception by many in the community that the council bureaucracy has a agenda of its own which the elected councillors in the past have not been able to control. This perception probably has been created most typically by the activities of the Economic Development and Tourism Section of our Council. The continuing Hanging Rock fiasco is a good example of an agenda out of step with most of our aspirations.

The new council plan should spell out clearly policies, which the community generally supports and can expect to be implemented through the CEO and the council bureaucracy.

There needs to be better communication to the public of how well council is meeting performance indicators. These indicators need to be crafted carefully so that an accurate picture can emerge. Our planning department for instance has a horrible reputation. I know planning consultants practising in central Victoria who refuse to work in the Macedon Ranges because of this reputation.

There is also a strong belief in the community that there is not enough financial transparency available in relation to the council budget.

Yours Faithfully,

Rob Bakes

Phone 54221808



  • M.R.S.G. proposal

Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group response to Council consultation survey
The Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group endorses Council action in inviting the community to provide input to the Council Plan. While we note that the survey has been directed at individual ratepayers, as a local community Group with a significant membership, we have an obligation to provide a response on some key issues derived from the survey.

12. Environment & Planning
Recent studies have revealed a timeframe of less than 5 years to address climate change worldwide. There are ways that MRSC can be part of addressing climate change including:
Inexpensive mitigation/adaptation strategies including solar panels on the roofs of all Council buildings that can pay back the investment in the order of 5 years while helping address climate change.
The current Council target of reducing emissions by 25% from a 2015 base is far too low and does not represent a fair contribution on a global reference basis, particularly given the high Shire emissions footprint.
Using the Council’s Environment Newsletter to cover all areas of environment in the Shire. Clearly, climate change is a key issue if we want to retain most of our flora and fauna and so are managing development pressures. Expand the newsletter.
Ensure that businesses that take steps to reduce their ecological footprint are publicised.
Encourage local schools to undertake resilience programs for schools to assist students with pro-active understanding of the science, and emotional strategies to cope with their future in a very changed world.
Support and encourage local groups, including health services providers to undertake healthy messaging initiatives on coping with climate change impacts
Recycling schools program and clearer explanation of how and where recyclables are processed.
Advocate for regenerative farming and increased localisation of agricultural food supplies.
Continue to support encourage residents to buy locally.
Ensure that strong controls are maintained to minimise fragmentation of agricultural land.
Negotiate with developers to increase the sustainability features of new urban developments, and advocate to the Victorian State Government to include the embodied emissions of building materials as part of a revised Star rating system for buildings, to provide a better measure of building life cycle energy and emission costs. Consider changes similar to but more advanced than those introduced in the last 2 years by Councils such as Banyule City to upgrade building performance.

13. Health and Well-being
By supporting community groups many sustainable health and well-being outcomes can and have been achieved. An effective community is marked by its support of the most vulnerable in our community. We could not rate one group above the other, as all members of the community deserve to be treated equally in this regard, community groups that assist them be supported.

14. Infrastructure
Continued timely maintenance and improvements to road, path & cycling networks in a manner that gives priority to overall community cost, social and environmental benefits over vote harvesting we consider optimal. Continue footpath network expansion with particular regard to public transport pickup locations.
The continued regular maintenance assisting the sustainability of Council building assets is appreciated and supported. Over time, they can become more energy efficient and have lower greenhouse gas emissions, supported by future development of community, private and Council renewable energy projects. As Council would be aware MRSG is seeking to support continuing development of renewable energy within the municipality, both wind and solar.

15. Local economy
Localisation of many activities, where possible, will become a future requirement for sustainable communities. The Shire has many active micro and small businesses. Only by Council and others supporting local produce and manufactures will our community be able to weather impacts of climate change and other disruptions. By supporting local businesses families/groups be able to have successful work and meaningful lives. By working in the local area, populations improve sustainability and meaningfulness in our community.

16. Community and engagement consultation in the community .
MRSG endorses the improved approach to Community consultation. Prior to 2010, there was a Council representative attending our monthly meetings. We have kept open a place for a member of the MRSC to attend our meetings and consider it would be mutually beneficial.

  • These Proposals from Lyn Hovey

I am responding to the invitation to consult the community on the 2017/2021 Council Plan.

The first priority is action on climate change.

Victoria is on the verge of having new, stronger climate laws and fairer feed-in prices for the electricity from rooftop solar on homes and business. The Federal Government is winding back action on climate change. MRSC should be supporting state government initiatives and campaigns by citizens to increase renewable energy including the Woodend wind turbine project.

The MRSC should adopt procedures within the Council’s own operation that show leadership in reducing greenhouse emissions. MRSC should make all of its operations and infrastructure carbon neutral. A large petition requesting local action on climate change was ignored.
There is much community support for a vastly improved network of bike tracks, for example, New Gisborne to Riddells Creek.

Establish charging stations in the shire for electric cars and E bikes linked to renewables generation.

The Planning rules should support more sustainable medium density housing Sustainable development guidelines should support Environmental Sustainable Design (ESD) and any proposed development should have to meet strict ecologically sustainable guidelines.

A bio-char facility should be established in conjunction with waste transfer stations.

The MRSC should support town level discussion between community groups, and regular discussion between residents. One discussion was held in Riddells Creek organised by the Neighbourhood House, but there has been no feedback or organisation since then.

In 2013-2015 Getting Riddell Right, a large group of Riddell residents challenged a MRSC permit issued for an inappropriate supermarket and shops complex. Consultation with the community would have saved a lot of money and effort. The excessively large supermarket and 17 shops have not been built because there is no need for it, it won’t make a profit in the short term and now the developer is selling the land with the permit. One planning decision that most people took issue with was the configuration of traffic, delivery trucks and lack of local knowledge about road and pedestrian movement around the town. We would like a proper traffic study done that involves community consultation before any further plans are acted upon.

The adopted C100 did not reflect the Riddells Creek Structure Plan that we were consulted on. Many good ideas from the community were ignored. The adopted urban growth zones need community consultation to proceed. Why allow developers from afar determine the shape and functioning of our town?

Greening of Riddell looks after Wybejong Park in Riddells Creek which is dedicated to indigenous plants and remnant native vegetation. We have a monthly working bee but there are always too many jobs for our small band of volunteers to finish. Most of the Park is crown land thus comes under the management of Parks Victoria who, due to a large area and few employees, mow only once a year. Wybejong Park also encompasses two areas of MRSC land. The Shire mows the Carre-Riddell car park area but there are rampant blackberry and long grass in this area which are not dealt with by the shire despite our requests. Volunteers strive to maintain the Park all year around and we maintain the walking track between Wybejong Park and Smiths Nursery. These are essential leisure precincts for Riddells Creek residents – dog walkers, young people exploring, workers winding down after work, school students doing nature study, and it is a wildlife corridor.

Greening of Riddell receives the occasional grant from the Shire but physical on-ground help is what we need. Our group is ageing and we are unable to keep up with serious weed invasion. MRSC has presided over a prolific reintroduction of invasive exotic weeds on a failed subdivision at 35 Melvins Road which funnels weed seed into Wybejong Park. When a council environment department employee was asked to help us solve this problem we were told there is nothing we can do.
When land is subdivided next to Wybejong Park we have written to the Shire to request that a no cats at large clause be added into the permit. We have been fobbed off with it’s taken care of in the by-laws but this is an inadequate response. We often find the feathers of dead birds, the mangled bodies of kangaroos chased by dogs and ducklings slaughtered by out of control dogs. We have created a wildlife corridor. Now we need help to protect the wildlife. All new housing developments bordering Wybejong Park should have restrictions on domestic animals.

We also request that the disused toilet block in the Carre-Riddell Reserve adjacent to Wybejong be renewed. Since 2007 we have written 17 letters to the MRSC and to DELWP to  reinstate a toilet for the public and for volunteers. The Shire has funded the design of a new toilet but found that the title of the land is with another government department. Can we please end this bureaucratic bottleneck and put funds into a new toilet?

  • Long term planning needs a wide perspective… Ian MacBean

Re Council Plan 2017-2021

“Regarding environment and planning, what matters to me most is:

The natural environment of the shire

The rural lifestyle offered by the shire

Well planned and managed population growth

Protection of the character of the shire

Consistent and understandable land use planning outcomes”

As an interested Macedon Ranges neighbor I fully endorse Mr Bakes’ set of equally-ranked priorities and support the case for comprehensive strategic planning to ensure sustainable outcomes for present and future residents. The natural environment underpins the long-term viability of our society. Specifically, biodiversity is the fundamental measure of the health of the natural environment: it is now also a critical indicator of the impact of climate change

I note the Minister for Planning’s recent announcement of forthcoming legislation to Protect the Macedon Ranges from Inappropriate Development.

In this submission to the Council Plan process I want to make two points:

The biogeographic (and agricultural) region that is the Macedon Ranges does not stop at the municipal boundary, and

Much of the headwaters of the Coliban catchment, the drinking water catchment for Kyneton and other towns further north, is outside the Macedon Ranges municipal boundaries.

Trentham now has a rapidly growing population (2.8% per year – ABS figures quoted by Hepburn Shire Council) which is now estimated to be circa 2,000. We have been told that we should be planning for a population of 5,000. The last Trentham Town Structure Plan was undertaken prior to 2007 when the population was circa 700. I understand that Structure Plans should be reviewed / up-dated every 4 years.

The lack of strategic planning for Trentham and the various ‘communities of interest’ it has with Kyneton and Woodend are relevant to the Macedon Ranges Council Plan. In addition to the important biogeographic continuities there are numerous socio-economic associations. One clear measure from an analysis of 2011 census data by La Trobe University Planning Students (under Professor Trevor Budge) showed for every 10 Trentham residents who commuted for work 9 travelled eastwards. More anecdotal evidence shows high levels of retail and other interaction with Kyneton and Woodend.

[I accept that there will always be boundary issues and scale effects but maintain that long-term planning demands the ‘bigger perspective’ – the next redrawing of the municipal boundaries might well return the Trentham district to Macedon Ranges!]

The core of this submission to the Macedon Ranges Council Plan is to ask Council to take a ‘landscape scale’ perspective in its approach to environment and planning – and a long-term perspective to future population growth, specifically in relation to rural land use, water supply and broad regional amenity.

I hope Council will accept this submission from a non-resident and I will be happy to elaborate any of the above if requested.

  • Council Action Proposals…Rob Bakes
  1. .The consultation process which the Council is implementing has been a breath of fresh air for residents. My suggestion is that the ideas and submissions be made available to everyone not just the Council bureaucracy. A Forum for Democratic Renewal has encouraged the sharing of information on our website but this response is only a small sample. It would be useful, I think, if all the ideas were available to the community. This is not just about “what is most popular” decision making. Its also about good ideas that may fall unnoticed through the cracks because they are not yet part of public debate. Deliberation that taps into our collective intelligence must listen seriously to every input and encourage the to and fro of community anchored conversations.
  2. The Million Dollar Roof Top Solar Project (based on the highly successful Corowa Council solar investment) needs to be looked at closely. When this was first mooted two years ago the Council confused good debt with bad debt. This was a good debt initiative, where the savings in electricity was predicted to pay the panel investment off in less than ten years,and after that the electricity generated would be free. Of course right from day one it would be clean energy.
  3. Plan for carbon neutrality for the council as an organisation. It would be a powerful message to the community as we all try to do something proactive about climate change. Putting up the white flag is not a good idea for the protection of future generations.
  4. Look at the use of citizens juries as a way of involving ordinary citizens in decision making.
  5. We need a community debate about what is sustainable development and how we put it into action. Perhaps we may need to develop new zoning and overlay requirements in the planning scheme. The divide of the past ( you are either pro-development or anti-development) must be put aside for a more mature debate.
  6. We need to develop strong cooperative arrangements with other shires across central Victoria especially in relation to environmental issues which transcend municipal boundaries.