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ACT budget surges ahead on sustainability in its latest budget

The ACT government has jumped ahead of the sustainability race with last week’s budget for low carbon transport edging ahead of roads in what could well be a first among state policies.

Public transport has been allocated $65 million over four years for stage two of the Canberra Metro from Civic to Woden, more bus services and improved ticketing systems. Roads were allocated just $54 million.

There is also $8.7 million announced to improve walking and cycling infrastructure.

The focus on active travel has been welcomed by the ACT Branch of the Public Health Alliance of Australia.

“This new infrastructure will bring about the dual benefit of encouraging residents to use active transport while also reducing car emissions, demonstrating how local governments can maximise opportunities for improved public health through enhancing urban environments,” PHAA ACT branch president Dr Devin Bowles said.

The budget also re-affirmed the government’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions.

“It was also positive to see the increased investment by the ACT government towards ensuring it meets its commitment to using 80 per cent renewable energy by 2018 and 100 per cent renewables by 2020, which is a significant step toward addressing climate change and the health issues which are closely related,” Dr Bowles said.

Other sustainability initiatives include the introduction of a container deposit scheme, a focus on green infrastructure and living infrastructure, and an emphasis on urban infill developments near transport and commercial hubs.

The budget also established a new City Renewal Authority, which is expected to create 20 full-time jobs in the 2017-18 financial year and a new Suburban Land Agency, which is expected to create 77 full-time jobs.

The CRA, which has $59 million committed over the next four years, will be tasked with the renewal of the CBD and Dickson, supporting the development of new buildings and public spaces along and around Northbourne Avenue and creating a lakeside precinct in West Basin. $59 million has been allocated to the CRA over the next four years.

The SLA will have responsibility for releasing land in new greenfield residential estates and the renewal of existing suburbs. It will also have a strong focus on affordable housing.

Other initiatives include:

  • $550,000 over four years for community zero emissions grants to support local organisations and community groups
  • $1.9 million over three years to continue delivering the ACT Climate Change Adaption Strategy
  • $845,000 to promote waste reduction and increased recycling in businesses, schools and at public events
  • $188,000 over three years to expand and improve existing programs such as Carbon Neutral Government and the Actsmart business energy and water program
  • A review will be carried out of the effectiveness of the Energy Efficiency Ratings Scheme
  • Regulatory impact assessments will be carried out on potential minimum energy efficiency standards and other options for improving the energy efficiency of rental properties in the Territory

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