Sustainable built and natural environment

Objective: Partnering with our community to protect and enhance our natural ecosystems and to encourage sustainable design and reduced resource consumption.

The City of Greater Geelong is fortunate to have a natural environment rich in diversity, including rare and unique flora and fauna, major waterways, large coastal areas and complex freshwater and marine wetlands.

One of Geelong’s greatest challenges is for Council, business and the community to ensure that the quality of our environment is protected and enhanced for future generations. The protection of our environment in its widest application is central to our ongoing habitation and that of other species. Sound environmental management for both the natural and built form must remain at the heart of our decision making and actions.

Council will ensure that all decisions we make, big or small, take the sustainability of our environment into account. We will do this by minimising our impacts, being efficient in our use of resources and advocating for and being a leader in environmental management within the community.

It is up to all of us to create an environment in which we not only want to live, but also want to leave to our future generations.

Over the life of this current City Plan (2013-2017) we are delivering ongoing services and new initiatives that address the following four important priorities:

  • Enhance and protect natural areas and ecosystem health. 
  • Support our community to live sustainably. 
  • Advocate for and promote sustainable design and development. 
  • Minimise our environmental footprint. 

Strategies and master plans

Below is a selection of the key strategies, master plans and initiatives that will assist in delivering Sustainable Built and Natural Environment priorities:

  • Asset Management Plans and Strategies 
  • Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 
  • Future Proofing Geelong / Low Carbon Growth Plan 
  • Environment Management Strategy 
  • Biodiversity Management Strategy 
  • Sustainable Water Use Plan     
  • Domestic Waste Water Strategy 
  • Municipal Strategic Statement 
  • G21 Regional Growth Plan 
  • G21 Geelong Region Plan
  • Housing Diversity Strategy 
  • Township Structure Plans 
  • Armstrong Creek Urban Growth Plan 
  • Storm Water Quality Management Plan (including Healthy Waterways) 
  • Rural Land Use Strategy 
  • Greater Geelong Cycling Strategy 
  • Road Management Plan 
  • Geelong Wetlands Strategy 
  • Eastern Park and Geelong Botanic Gardens Strategic Plan 
  • Various conservation and environment reserve management plans 
  • Geelong Saleyards Conservation Management Plan 
  • Social Infrastructure Plan 
  • Street Tree Policy 
  • Municipal Emergency Management Plan 
  • Various drainage and flood management strategies and plans 
  • Urban Forest Strategy
  • Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action - Low Carbon West Strategy

Key partnerships include:

  • The community 
  • Environmental interest groups 
  • Transport companies 
  • Suppliers 
  • Developers 
  • Federal and State Government departments 
  • Industry groups 
  • Barwon Region Waste Management Group 
  • G21 – Geelong Region Alliance 


Everyday we are faced with challenges. These challenges impact on our decision making in the immediate and long term. It is important we remain flexible so we can respond to the changing needs of our community as well as making the most of the opportunities that arise.

Some of the challenges facing us in the pursuit of a sustainable built and natural environment include:

  • Changes in legislation resulting in more responsibilities being transferred from State to Local Government.  
  • The need to implement plans to protect biodiversity, arrest erosion and halt the intrusion of animal and plant pests, coastal erosion, inundation and intrusion of saltwater into estuarine areas. 
  • The perception that addressing environmental issues is less important than growing the economy - which may result in a push for cheaper developments and decreasing building and environmental standards. 
  • Being prepared to respond to government funding programs that benefit our environment. 
  • Major industries lobbying to get the most out of existing infrastructure rather than seeking to become greener. 
  • Climate change impacts on services and infrastructure projects.    
  • With the increase in the EPA levy, the City will need to promote alternative means of disposing of unwanted items, such as recycling and other waste initiatives. Increased dumping of waste in areas such as parklands and waterways could also result from the rise in the EPA levy. 
  • Extreme weather conditions and the impact on council facilities and the community. 
  • Implementing affordable and sustainable building practices resulting in reduced demand on natural resources and a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Competing needs for land within Geelong due to population change. 
  • Competition for water resources between the environment and domestic, agricultural and industrial users. 
  • Competing demands for land use (infrastructure vs. productive agricultural land). 
  • Absence of adequate public transport networks and services resulting in higher car dependency, and associated traffic and parking implications.
  • Maintaining low contamination rates in kerbside recycling service.
  • Seeking support from the State Government in regards to the banning of onshore gas extraction and hydraulic fracking.

Bike paths

Priority: Enhance and protect natural areas and ecosystem health

We have a natural environment rich in diversity. Protecting our native plants and animal habitats, limiting pollution, greening the city and using our natural resources wisely is important and demonstrates our commitment to sound environmental management.

We will continue to enhance our natural areas by:

  • Protecting and restoring our biodiversity. 
  • Engaging the community in protecting our natural areas. 
  • Limiting the loss of native species and natural areas and continuing indigenous plantings. 
  • Protecting our coast, waterways and wetlands. 
  • Continuing the development and implementation of reserve master plans in order to improve the quality of public open spaces. 
  • Building community and agency partnerships.

Progress indicators:

Type of indicator Indicators Target
D Number of state and nationally significant reserves actively managed through a strategic management plan 3 Strategic Management Plans developed per annum
D Percentage of council owned conservation reserves permanently protected by fencing, planning controls and/or conservation agreement Increase
D Kilometres and area of noxious weeds controlled on Council reserves and roadsides 300 kilometres of roadside and 500 hectares of reserves per annum
D Net gain in vegetation - grasses, shrubs and trees planted by Council Minimum 20,000 plantings per annum
D Net increase in street trees Increase of 400 per annum
M Number of wetlands assessed for ecosystem health including blue green algae 20 wetlands per annum

Priority: Support our community to live sustainably

We will provide leadership and guidance to maximise environmental sustainability outcomes, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support progress towards a carbon-neutral city.

We will:

  • Continue to implement the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. 
  • Investigate and facilitate renewable energy opportunities. 
  • Lead the way in waste management practices and continue to reduce the amount of waste to landfill. 
  • Encourage increased use of alternatives to car transport and seek efficient traffic movement throughout the municipality. 
  • Work in partnership with residents and communities to educate them on lifestyle choices and practices. 
  • Encourage buy local and sustainable purchasing behaviours. 

Progress indicators:

Type of indicator Indicators Target
D Community satisfaction rating for overall performance in waste management (Local Government Community Satisfaction Survey) Meet or exceed Victorian Council average
D Community satisfaction rating for overall performance in environmental sustainability (Local Government Community Satisfaction Survey) Meet or exceed Victorian Council average
D Participation rates in council sponsored sustainable living programs and activities Participation rates are 75% of capacity
I Waste minimisation kg/household Recycling – 350kg
Green Waste – 340kg
Garbage – 400kg
I Number of bicycle riders counted on ‘Super Tuesday’ (held annually in March) Increase

Priority: Advocate for and promote sustainable design and development

We will ensure we meet environmentally sustainable development standards in an effort to reduce the region’s carbon footprint and encourage the same throughout the community by:

  • Ensuring strategies, planning processes and urban design reflects community desires to be living in sustainable places. 
  • Promoting sustainable design and retrofitting. 
  • Acknowledge the community’s desire to have their say and be involved in planning for the future of Greater Geelong. 
  • Maximising investment and opportunities for green corridors, green belts and parks. 

Progress indicators:

Type of indicator Indicators Target
D The existence of programs and activities that promote residential and commercial buildings achieving above mandatory standards Maintain 2 programs and minimum 2 activities
M Percentage of new residential and commercial buildings achieving above mandatory standards Increase

Priority: Minimise our environmental footprint

We want to make sure that all decisions made by staff and Council have a positive impact on our natural environment.

We will:

  • Continue to seek methods of reducing energy, water and waste consumption. 
  • Consider environmental impacts when designing and delivering capital projects and providing services. 
  • Demonstrate leadership and share and embed our skills and knowledge within the community and surrounding local organisations.

Progress indicators:

Type of indicator Indicators Target
D Council greenhouse gas emissions by sector (waste, fleet, buildings) Decrease
D Average fuel use per vehicle in Council's fleet Decrease
D Council’s potable water consumption 25% reduction in potable water consumption by 2015 and a 30% reduction by 2020
D Council waste (solid and green) diverted from landfill (weight and percentage) 63%
60,000 tonnes
D Usage rate for transfer stations/resource recovery centres (transactions per annum) Drysdale - 31,000
North Geelong - 62,000
D Landfill pollutant levels for odour, dust, complaints, groundwater and gas leaks Meets compliance requirements
D Average electricity usage of top 10 emitting buildings 10% reduction on 2012-2013 usage
D Percentage of new council buildings that meet our Sustainable Building Policy 90%
D Number of environmental incidents as defined by council policies and standards Nil
I Contamination rates with kerbside collection 7% or lower

Ongoing sustainable built and natural environment services and activities for the community

  • Environmental protection and management programs including:
    • Flora and fauna
    • Biodiversity conservation
    • Weed and vermin control
    • Bush land regeneration
    • Coastal, wetland and conservation reserve protection and management
    • Education and awareness publications and activities
    • Land use plans to provide direction on permissible uses and management of crown and council owned land.
  • Commercial and residential garbage, recycling and green waste collection. 
  • Planning and processing of planning scheme amendments to facilitate sustainable land use and development and ensure sustainable urban design of our natural and built environment. 
  • Assessment and processing of planning and building applications and permits. 
  • Management and regeneration of public parks and reserves. 
  • Design, construction, maintenance and repairs of local roads, footpaths, and storm water drains. 
  • Provision and maintenance of on and off-road bicycle and walking tracks. 
  • Advocating for public transport improvements and supporting and promoting its use. 
  • Park and Ride service and Summer Circuit Bus in Central Geelong. 
  • Maintaining a healthy built and natural environment through pest control and cleaning of street/public facilities. 
  • Conservation of historic assets, through heritage studies to identify and document buildings and areas of historical and cultural significance, including management of heritage overlays. 
  • Free Heritage Advisory Service to assist owners of properties (with a heritage overlay) in making informed decisions about restoration, maintenance, alterations and additions to their buildings. 
  • Annual Sustainability Living Festival events.

How you can contribute to achieving our Sustainable Built and Natural Environment outcomes:

  • ‘Go Green’ – there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint and save our region’s precious resources. 
  • Plant indigenous plant species. 
  • Install water saving devices around your home. 
  • Recycle – reduce the amount of new materials you use or purchase. 
  • Reduce unnecessary heating and cooling. 
  • Buy appliances with the highest energy efficiency. 
  • Ride your bike to work or car pool with others in your local area. 
  • Walk your children to school, or start a ‘walking school bus’. 
  • Use public transport, or take advantage of the Park and Ride services. 
  • Vote with your ‘switch’ and take part in the annual Earth Hour event in March by switching off non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness for the need to take action on climate change. 
  • Plant a tree. 
  • Choose low toxic and biodegradable cleaning products. 
  • Consider environmental standards when building or renovating. 
  • Take part in annual ‘Clean Up Australia Day’ activities.
  • Participate in Sustainability Living Festival activities.

Indicator Key:

Key Type of measure
D Direct – Council has a direct influence on the measure result
I Influence – Council has an influence on the measure result but other external factors outside our control also impact it
M Monitor – Council has no influence on the measure result but monitors it to assist in future planning

Page last updated: Friday, 29 July 2016