Brighter Shades of Green: Living Our Environmental Values
We’re Committed to Creating a Thriving, Greener Byron
In the wise words of Jane Goodall:
“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”
We know how important it is to stride forwards into a greener, more environmentally just future. We have a strong past, a solid present, and a success-driven future when it comes to cultivating greener living.
We are proud to say that protecting, rehabilitating, and enhancing our natural environment is one of the Byron Independent’s top priorities. We are all extremely grateful to live in such a beautiful and biologically diverse region. We are also acutely aware of the ecological challenges our unique location faces and the critical role we must play in ensuring its future.
That is why we are committed to creating real change that continues to deliver benefits for years to come. We believe the Byron Shire can be a world leader in environmental management, improving biodiversity, and climate change adaptation. We also see a future where Byron is an inspirational example of the difference an informed community can make when they work together.
Over the last few years, we have been able to lay the groundwork for our ambitious agenda. We have kicked off several major programs, completing important investigation work and securing critical State government funding. We hope to build on this over the coming years, initiating more targeted projects as we start to see real traction.
Here we share just a few of the ways we see Byron truly living its green values. We look at some of the initiatives we have helped put in motion and the benefits these are designed to deliver. Plus, we explore what the future holds and what we hope to achieve over the next Council term, if elected.
Bringing Back the Bruns
The health of the Brunswick River has a major impact on the overall health of our region. Over the years the riverbank has succumbed to weeds and erosion, and the natural fish passage has been significantly impaired. The ‘Bringing Back the Bruns’ project was initiated to address these issues and rehabilitate the whole Brunswick River area.
This began with major upgrades to enable freer movement of fish along the full length of the river. Substantial grants from the NSW government were matched with Council funds to pay for two causeway upgrades and the removal of three low-level barriers. This has allowed native fish year-round access to approximately 90% of the river and improved the safety of vehicle access.
More recently, we have secured a grant to rehabilitate an almost 2km stretch of riverbank around the Mullumbimby Showground. This area has been significantly affected by non-native vegetation, which has pulled down native trees and destabilised the bank. These issues are now being addressed through staged regeneration works, including weed control and planting of local native riparian vegetation.
We hope to continue this work over the coming years, delivering a range of targeted projects to further improve the riparian and instream habitat. Through these initiatives, we believe we can also make the area safer for residents, reducing the flood risk and enabling better vehicle access.
Bioenergy Plant Close to the Finish Line
The Byron Independents fully back Council’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2025. The development of renewable energy infrastructure is key to meeting this target which is why we have been pushing for an Australian-first dry anaerobic bioenergy facility to be built in the Byron Shire.
This facility will significantly reduce Council’s reliance on grid electricity and hence cut Council’s carbon emissions by around 20%. It will process Byron and neighbouring shires’ organic waste and the by-product (a nutrient rich compost) can be used by local farmers and small growers.
The project is stacking up financially and we are engaging with the Federal Government and others to attain grant funding.
Building the Dingo Lane Solar Farm
Council has also given the green light to go to tender on a 5 megawatt solar farm on our land at Dingo Lane, Myocum. We are also investigating possible funding sources, including State and Federal government grants. Once built, this farm will help offset Council’s use of grid electricity and enable us to meet our 2025 net zero emissions target.
Establishing Byron’s First Natural Burial ground
Acknowledging the significant environmental benefits, we have led the push to establish a natural burial ground within the Shire.
Traditional burial techniques are resource intensive and often involve harsh, and potentially harmful, chemicals. By contrast, natural burials are a much gentler approach that produce minimal carbon emissions.
There has been strong community interest behind this project and we have been working closely with the Natural Burial Steering Group. A site has been selected on the Council land at Vallances Rd which also has massive potential to become a nature reserve and cycling/walking area, potentially easily accessible over the disused rail bridge.
Combatting Beach Erosion
The erosion trend of the last few years that has impacted Clarks and Main Beaches was tough to watch. Thankfully it would seem that the winds have turned and sand is returning slowly but surely to our coastline. This presents an opportunity to improve the condition of the dunes and plant appropriate vegetation. Critical to the future management of the coastline is to certify a Coastal Management Plan and this is well underway and expected sometime next year. From there we need to ensure appropriate funding is given to the actions in the plan so that we can manage coastal risks in a methodical way in the future.
Biodiversity and Reforestation
Moving forward, we hope to be able to continue leading initiatives that enhance our region’s biodiversity. The Byron Shire Council Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2020-2030 is an award-winning strategy which needs significant funding to bring it to life and the Byron Independents will prioritise this funding so we can continue:
- Working with Council and community to plan and deliver projects that will repair and regenerate our waterways and riparian zones.
- Supporting the mapping and enhancing of critical wildlife corridors.
- Encouraging better land stewardship.
- Promoting the planting of local native species.
- Advocating for opportunities to increase the connectivity and resilience of our local landscape.
- Supporting local residents and community groups to deliver strategic environmental initiatives, including securing State and Federal government funding.
- Supporting Council’s replanting requirements and extending these to all housing in rural settings.
- Bringing together development and environmental outcomes as a means to address the housing crisis while protecting the delicate balance of our natural setting.
- There is no doubt that the pandemic has had a significant impact on environmental projects throughout the world, with many being put on hold and attention diverted elsewhere. As such, now is the time to make a stronger stand than ever before for our beautiful area and become true leaders in greener living.
With Michael Lyon as Mayor, a solid foundation has already been laid for continued success and we know that we are uniquely placed in Byron Shire to leverage our international renown to light and lead the way to a sustainable future.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~Margeret Mead