SUBMISSION RE EIS FOR AUSTRAL BRICKWORKS AT NEW BERRIMA
I am a member of a coalition of a wide range of environmental and sustainability groups in the Southern Highlands of NSW (WinZero Inc) whose stated objective is to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the Wingecarribee Shire by 2050 at the latest. Given the fact that Austral is proposing to build a state-of-art brickworks in a Shire that has recently declared a Climate Emergency following the devastating droughts and 2019/20 bushfire season, I am amazed and appalled at the cursory attention given to greenhouse gas emission reduction in their Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
I should say at the outset that we are not opposed to new developments in principle, as we understand the importance to the community of sustainable economic activity in the area. We are also not opposed to the brickworks in particular as there is an ongoing need for suitable building materials in a relatively cold area of the country and, being located in the Southern Highlands, we would like to minimize the transport component of their supply. Also, we understand that an EIS is not a design document so does not include the fine details of construction and operation of the plant. However, it is the place to make statements about the environmental and sustainability principles and objectives of the Proponent.
Again, I must repeat that we are in the middle of a Climate Crisis and new builds should be a shining beacon of what can be achieved to minimize our carbon emissions. Therefore, I contend that the following design, construction and operating objectives should be demonstrably front and centre in Austral’s thinking:
• Focus on the use of solar passive design principles wherever possible
• Installation of suitable insulation to minimise the need for heating and cooling
• Reuse of waste heat wherever possible
• Use of native vegetation where possible to minimise temperature build up
• Investigation and implementation where possible of alternatives to gas-fired heating – in particular taking into account the future promise of renewables- produced hydrogen
• Installation of the maximum amount of renewable energy production
Use of low embodied carbon materials wherever possible – particularly with regard to the large expanses of concrete proposed
• Electrification of the vehicle fleet
• Establishment of operating procedures that minimise the use of coal-fired grid electricity and maximise the use of renewable energy
• Establishment of “green” energy Power Purchase Agreements in partnership with renewables producers to supplement energy needs that cannot be met by on-site renewables production
• Installation of large-scale battery banks to enable the most effective use of renewable power over the 24-hour operational cycle.
In conclusion, I think it would be highly beneficial for Austral’s public image and for its engagement with key stakeholder groups in the local community if they were address these issues in a substantive way in their Response to Submissions.
E. [email protected]
Mittagong NSW 2575
25 August 2020