Balonne Shire Council has shown the capability of small local governments to make positive environmental change, hosting the Environmental Health Australia (Darling Downs and South West Group) conference in St George today.
Headlined by major projects from both Balonne Shire Council and Southern Downs Regional Council, the conference was a chance for all regional member Shires to share their innovative plans which are improving environmental health across the Downs and South West.
Current projects presented at the conference included Balonne Shire Council’s pilot Tyre Recycling Scheme, aimed at combatting the major (and widespread) problem of illegal tyre dumping.
Council’s Director of Environmental and Regulatory Services Digby Whyte also updated members on the landmark Wild Dog Exclusion Fencing Project.
While still in its early stages, the WDEF project has not only improved landholders’ prospects for rearing sheep and goats in the Balonne, but protected large tracts of land from damage caused by other pest animals such as wild pigs.
Mr Whyte said Balonne was leading the way for smaller Councils by showing they can make wide-ranging and lasting changes.
He credits the small but forward-thinking teams and Council for making a major difference.
“Projects like the Tyre Recycling Scheme and the Wild Dog Exclusion Fencing are truly a testament to what we as small rural Councils can do with some foresight and people who are passionate about making positive, tangible change,” he said.
“We are thinking five, ten, and even twenty years ahead when it comes to these projects and more to ensure our natural environment is rehabilitated from the devastating effects of drought, and that rehabilitation can be sustained in the long term.”
Looking at long term improvement doesn’t stop in the environmental space either; Director of Finance and Corporate Services Michelle Clarke gave updates on two of Balonne Shire Council’s major projects - the St George Library Hub and Country Universities Centre and the Digital Connectivity Project.
Ms Clarke said all the projects – environmental and otherwise – go well beyond their direct benefits and contribute to a thriving local economy.
“Whether they are on the land or in our towns, residents will experience some kind of benefit from these long-term Council projects,” she said.
“There is a great deal of economic benefit projected to come back to the Balonne Shire from everything we are doing, and each of these projects contributes to making this region an even better place to live and work.”
The EHA (DDSW) conference also included speakers from Southern Downs Regional Council, Queensland Health, and the Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation.
Delegates from Maranoa, South Burnett, Goondiwindi, Southern Downs and Western Downs Regional Councils and Environmental Health Australia attended the conference.