Budget 2019-20: $15.6M in environmental initiatives

Published: 03 Jul 2019

This year’s Budget contains $15.6 million of initiatives aimed at protecting and valuing the environment and reducing Council’s carbon footprint.

“As the custodian of a unique and valued environment, Council is acutely aware of its responsibility in this regard and, quite rightly, we should take a leadership role in ensuring our city has the least impact possible upon the world heritage environment we are surrounded by,” Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said.

“And we are doing some great things here in Cairns which has led to Council being able to cut greenhouse gas emissions as of 2007 by 47% thus far, in keeping with the commitment of a reduction of 50% by 2020.

“This target is now well within our sights and this year’s Budget features a number of actions that will certainly make this more than achievable.”

Projects funded this year include:

Materials Recovery Facility - $5.9m ($1m next budget)

This multi-million-dollar upgrade to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) will place Council in a position to address its recycling needs for the next decade. The upgrade will bolster the MRF’s processing capacity and will boost the amount of waste diverted from landfill from 50-60% to 85-90% from landfill.

The upgrade will double the MRF’s processing capacity to 30,000 tonnes a year, while new, state-of-the-art technology will enhance and streamline the facility’s sorting capabilities.

A new glass-sorting and processing plant will be delivered as part of the upgrade, allowing Council to recycle glass locally. Glass will be crushed and cleaned on site, then repurposed as a sand substitute in non-structural concrete works, including kerb and channelling, footpaths and cycle paths.

“The new infrastructure will increase the facility’s viability, improve our recycling recovery rates and decrease the amount of waste ending up in landfill,” Cr Manning said.

“Importantly, that means significantly less trucks heading up the hill to the Springmount Waste Management Facility. The implementation of a glass processing circuit also means we can take a lead on recycling by repurposing rubbish at a local level and therefore cutting our need to transport waste south to Brisbane.”

Construction of the upgrade will begin this year. An additional $1 million has been committed in the 20/21 Budget. (The State Government has provided $3 million of funding for the project through its Building Our Regions program.)

Buy Back Shop – $170,000

Council will invest $170,000 this year to upgrade the popular Buy Back Shop so more waste can be diverted from landfill and re-used. As part of the upgrade, the front-end processing structure will be reconfigured to increase capacity to deal with items for re-use. Last year, the Shop diverted about 700 tonnes of waste from landfill.

With new procedures, planned upgrades and further education, Council aims to increase that to 1000 tonnes over the next two years.

Concrete Crushing – $600,000

Council has allocated $600,000 to increase its capacity to recycle concrete. The upgrade will allow more than 10,000 tonnes of concrete from Council demolitions to be crushed and reused locally in the construction of roads and as a sub-base for buildings. Recycling concrete provides dual savings for Council – negating landfill costs and reducing the need to purchase raw materials. The State Government has committed $295,000 to the concrete crushing project.

Ground Mounted Solar (mini solar farms) – $3.35m

Council will create mini-solar farms at five of its Wastewater Treatment Plants to reduce energy costs by up to $417,000 a year.

When complete, the $3.35 million system will be capable of generating 1.7mW of energy, reducing the electricity costs at those treatment plants by 26%. It will also ensure that Council meets its 50% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2020. The new ground-mounted solar will be built on unused land immediately surrounding each of the WWTPs, and will add to Council’s 1mW of existing rooftop solar installations.

Rooftop solar for pools – $250,000

Three swimming pool complexes will be given an efficiency boost with the installation of rooftop solar at Gordonvale, Smithfield and Woree pools. A change of filtration timing to coincide with each solar unit’s maximum output will further reduce electricity costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The rooftop solar program has included 3,908 panels being installed on 26 Council buildings, which has already boosted power generation, equating to savings of $360,000 each year.

Smart Water Meters roll-out – $3.4m ($13m over next two years)

Council will also continue on its rollout of smart water meters, with $3.4 million allocated in this year’s Budget and $13 million slated over the next two years to complete the installations across the city. From all accounts, the trial of these meters at Palm Cove is yielding good results, with water leaks that would otherwise have not been detected being identified by the system.

LED Street Lighting – $650,000

This project will involve the replacement of more than 300 street lights in the CBD from the current 400 Watt Metal Halide HID fixture to a 250 Watt RoadLED fixture which will reduce energy consumption of the CBD street lighting by approximately 40% and will result in lower greenhouse gas emissions as well as the absence of mercury content. Maintenance and replacement costs will greatly be reduced due to longer operating life of 10 to 15 years. The LED light fixture will be NEMA 7 Pin compatible for future smart city control and monitoring functions.

Smart Urban Irrigation Project – $490,000

Council will continue to roll out smart sprinklers on the Cairns Esplanade in a project that will save water while keeping the parklands looking their best. Under the Smart Urban Irrigation Project, 318 new sprinkler heads are being installed, along with flow and moisture sensors that will be connected to a smart network that will determine when irrigation is needed and allow for centralised management of the network. Master valves will provide an automatic shut-off in the event that the specified flow rate is exceeded due to a fault, and damage or blockages to the network will be self-reported via the central management software. (The total cost of the project is $650,000 which includes a $250,000 contribution from the Australian Government through its Smart Cities and Suburbs grant.)

Stratford Tree Nursery – $350,000

Council’s native tree nursery at Stratford will be upgraded this year to enable the facility to propagate in excess of 60,000 trees annually. The upgrade will include expanding the tube stock capacity with a larger potting area and an increased shade structure for transitioning to sun hardening tube stock. The existing irrigation system will also be replaced, the potting area will be formalised to reduce manual handling and the shaded work zone will be extended to expand daily production.

Shoreline Erosion – $320,000

As part of this program, Council will this year spend $250,000 on shoreline erosion management and $70,000 to start the process of tackling sand loss at Holloways Beach. The groyne proposal at Holloways Beach is aimed at retaining sand on the beach long term, reducing the cost of large sand nourishment campaigns.  Recent community consultation on the project is assisting the design process, which is expected to be completed later this year. Council has committed $1.9 million in 2020/21 for construction of the groynes.

Last updated: 03 July 2019