A sustainable future for the Southern Downs adopted

A sustainable future for the Southern Downs adopted

29 July 2021

Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) adopted the Southern Downs Environmental Sustainability Strategy (SDESS) 2021 - 2031 and received the accompanying action plan at its Ordinary Meeting on Wednesday 28 July 2021.

The SDESS is a 10-year strategic document that sets out Council’s commitment to environmental sustainability practices and protecting the natural environment. The document aligns with Council’s existing policies, in particular the SDRC Corporate Plan 2021 -2026, and provides direction and actions for possible implementation if appropriate funding and partnerships can be identified.

The strategy identifies four priorities: valuing water, reducing our footprint, valuing nature and building economic resilience which all play an important role in building a sustainable future and are represented through a unique logo.

Southern Downs Councillor Stephen Tancred commented that the logo represents our need to tread lightly and it will complement the SDRC corporate logo when used in joint communications about the SDESS.

“It’s a footprint combined with gum leaves representing biodiversity, a water drop representing water security and an outline of our landscape all encompassed in a circle to represent economic resilience.  It says we want to tread more lightly and have less impacts on our water, flora and our land,” Councillor Tancred said.

Councillor Tancred said that he strongly supported both the strategy and the action plan, saying the many conversations about the strategy reflected community and Council aspirations.

“The strategy reflects community and Council aspirations. And how did we capture these aspirations?  With lots of conversations. 194 survey replies, 28 written submissions, nine meetings with interest groups and several drafts to Council indicates that there was robust engagement from all stakeholders,” he said.

“This final document details the aspirations of the community whilst recognising Council’s financial limitations and the need for third parties, including higher levels of government, to drive strategies into actions.

“And if you want some good news stories, then look no further than the eight case studies presented in the strategy that detail how recycled water, solar power, electric vehicles, value adding agricultural waste and protecting our threatened plant species is already occurring.”

 In 2019, Council received funding through the Building Better Regions Fund to develop the SDESS. The project was funded on the basis of delivery of a strategic plan for Council to provide for improved management and protection of the region’s natural assets.

Council convened a Community Reference Panel to inform development of the SDESS and Elton Consulting was appointed to facilitate the strategy’s development.

In February 2021, a discussion paper was released for public consultation coupled with an online survey. During this time, community and industry groups, as well as Council’s Senior Leadership Team and other relevant staff were interviewed by Elton Consulting and a concerted media campaign ran in parallel to garner as much public feedback as possible.

Councillor Tancred further praised the officers and Councillors for their involvement in both documents and his sentiment was echoed by Councillors Marco Gliori and Cameron Gow who both came out in strong support of the strategy and action plan.

The SDESS can be viewed online at Environmental Sustainability Strategy - Southern Downs Regional Council (sdrc.qld.gov.au).

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