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ALEC’s Key Objectives in 2018

The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) is central Australia's peak environmental organisation that has been advocating for the protection of nature and ecologically sustainable development in the arid lands since 1980.

We are a strong and trusted voice for Australia’s iconic desert country. We stand up and speak out for the protection of land and water, animals and plants, special places and the communities that depend on them.

We demonstrate courageous leadership and work with partners across vast landscapes to deliver solutions to the ecological challenges we face.

We understand the importance of knowledge, science, research, education and engaging the community on the issues that matter.

In 2018 our key objectives include:

Calling on the Northern Territory Government to adopt a climate policy with a target of net zero emissions by 2050

The NT Government is currently developing a Climate Change Framework and ALEC is meeting regularly with the relevant departmental officials to contribute to this process. It is understood that a draft framework will be released for public consultation sometime this year.

NT Environment groups have concerns that the framework will not include an emissions reduction target, and that NT emissions will continue to rise. All other states and territories, except for WA, have net zero emissions targets by 2050.

The Northern Territory has significant challenges in reducing emissions. If the Beetaloo Basin is fracked it is estimated that the carbon emissions will be 4-5 times that of the contested Adani Carmichael Coal Mine project. When the INPEX Ichthys gas project comes online in Darwin it will produce 280Mt of carbon over its 40-year lifetime.

ALEC will:

  • Continue to advocate for a net zero emissions by 2050 target to the NT Government
  • Advocate for emissions reductions on pastoral properties
  • Educate community members on the draft framework process and encourage active engagement with the framework community consultations.
  • Host a minimum of two climate change focused community events in 2018
  • Translate the educational NAILSMA video “Climate Change in North Australia” into a number of local indigenous languages
  • Continue to work with regional and national groups including Climate Action Darwin, Environment Centre NT, Climate Action Network Australia and the Climate Council towards a safe climate for future generations

Contributing to the development of a robust environmental regulatory system in the NT

The NT Government is currently reforming environmental laws in the territory. This is being undertaken in two stages. The first stage is the review and reform of the Environmental Assessment Act, with the view to develop an Environmental Protection Act. The second stage will review other environmental acts such as the Waste Management Pollution Control Act and the Water Act.

The NT has the weakest environmental laws in Australia, and these reforms provide an opportunity to bring the Territory in line with the standards across the rest of the country. ALEC has responded to the initial discussion paper, and is having regular meetings with the NT Government.

ALEC will:

  • Advocate for best practice environmental laws for the NT
  • Continue to engage in government meetings, processes and submissions
  • Educate community members on the reform process and encourage active engagement with the draft bills
  • Work with Environment Centre NT, Lock the Gate and Environmental Defenders Office NT to develop ‘Chain of Responsibility’ legislation and rehabilitation standards for mines

Campaigning to ban fracking

ALEC has been campaigning against the process of hydraulic fracturing in the NT since 2011. ALEC has facilitated the development of the Central Australian Frack Free Alliance and has provided support for the Frack Free Coordinator since 2015. ALEC has made numerous submissions to the NT Government, and has been actively engaged in both Government inquiries into the process of hydraulic fracturing.

The Inquiry has released its draft report and has just finished the last round of community consultations. The draft report has indicated that the expert panel believes that the process of fracking should be allowed to go ahead under tightly prescribed conditions, despite widespread community concern.

ALEC will:

  • Continue to advocate for a complete ban on fracking in the NT
  • Continue to host and support the Central Australian Frack Free Coordinator
  • Strongly highlight the climate cost of fracking in the NT via the media and online forums
  • Work with Environment Centre NT, Lock the Gate and the Central Frack Free Alliance to campaign against fracking and support community engagement on the issue

Working towards the vision of 100% renewable energy for Alice Springs by 2030

The Arid Lands Environment Centre has been a consistent advocate for increasing renewable energy in Alice Springs. ALEC was a driving force behind the successful Alice Solar City bid in 2007, and a consortium member of the Alice Solar City project that finished in 2013.

ALEC has facilitated and provided support for the RePower Alice Springs community group since 2016, and has made submissions to the NT Government Roadmap to Renewables. ALEC has been a strong advocate for a rapid and just transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

ALEC will:

  • Continue providing support for RePower Alice Springs
  • Continue to advocate for the vision of 100% renewable energy Alice Springs
  • Work with the NT Government to help deliver community education outcomes from the Roadmap for Renewables
  • Work with the Environment Centre NT, Climate Action Network Australia, The Climate Council, RePower Australia and other national renewable energy organisations to develop renewable energy initiatives.

Protecting the outback from inappropriate developments including toxic waste dumps, large-scale mining impacts and coal-to-gas proposals.

With 85% of the Northern Territory under application for exploration, responding to Environmental Impact Statements from resource project proposals forms a significant part of ALEC’s work.

In recent months 4 new mines have been approved by the Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority, and are awaiting final approval by NT Environment Minister Lauren Moss. A further base-metals mining proposal KGL Jervois is developing its EIS. ALEC has concerns that the NTEPA is recommending projects for approval before the new and improved regulatory system comes in. ALEC is advocating for any new regulations to be administered in relation to these projects and the environment and surrounding communities not bear the risk associated with projects approved under the current regime.

These include:

Chandler Salt Mine and Toxic Waste Dump; proposed for 120kms south of Alice Springs, incorporates a permanent hazardous waste storage facility. Concerns include toxic waste contamination, and the ability to manage the waste for the rest of geological time.

Nolans Bore Rare Earths Mine; proposed for west of the Aileron Roadhouse. Concerns include radioactive waste rock storage, permanent hydrological changes, and the health of groundwater dependant ecosystems.

Mount Peake Titanium, Vanadium and Iron Mine; proposed for west of Barrow Creek. Concerns include permanent hydrological changes, health of groundwater dependant ecosystems , potential acid mine drainage and adequacy of rehabilitation plans.

Amaroo Phosphate Mine; proposed near Ampilatwatja. Concerns include waste tailings treatment, the health of groundwater dependant ecosystems and ithe adequacy of rehabilitation plans.

Perdirka Basin Coal to Gas Projects, in the last hours of the Giles government (before going into caretaker mode), 15 000km2 of land in the southern border of the NT was essentially gifted to Texan coal seam gas fracking company, TriStar Petroleum. ALEC is currently pursuing all available options to ensure this project and others like it do not come to fruition.

ALEC will:

  • Continue to engage with relevant NT Government Ministers to address environmental concerns with the mining projects
  • Make a deputation to MacDonnell Regional Council with regard to concerns of the permanent waste storage facility at the Chandler Salt Mine
  • Support Titjikala community to raise their concerns over the Chandler Salt Mine Proposal
  • Continue to comment on terms of reference and respond to Environmental Impact Assessments for mining projects
  • Raise awareness of the potential impacts on the environment from mining proposals.
  • Work with the Environment Defenders Office NT and other partners to seek pursue Freedom of Information options to ensure the public understands the risks of some of these resource projects.

Continuing to build collaborative land management approached across the desert country

Australia’s desert country is one of the largest and most intact landscapes in the world. The desert country and its people are connected across state and territory borders. Managing this landscape requires people working collaboratively across vast areas to ensure country remains healthy and people remain strong. Good land management requires constant work to protect threatened species while ensuring the impacts of wildfire, feral animals and weeds are minimised.

ALEC has been working to support collaboration across the arid lands of Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia for more than 5 years. ALEC coordinated the Ten Deserts Initiative through organising face-to-face planning workshops, supporting the organisation of the inaugural Southern Deserts Ranger Forum at Ilkurlka in the Great Victoria Desert and regular phone meetings to keep up momentum. This project has entered a new and exciting phase and as such, ALEC’s role is changing.

ALEC will:

  • Be a partner in this indigenous led collaboration
  • Continue to coordinate the Buffel Free Great Victoria Desert project
  • Work to support the organisation of the Southern Deserts Ranger Forum and;
  • Continue to engage with the Indigenous Desert Alliance and other land management stakeholders

Supporting Central Australian communities to become more sustainable through energy, water and waste education

Whilst significant systemic change is required to address the global issue of climate change, the sustainability of local communities and implementing effective local sustainability initiatives have a key role to play towards ALEC’s vision of ‘healthy futures for arid lands and people’.

ALEC will:

  • Organise the 10th desertSMART EcoFair with key science and sustainability speakers, The Transitions Film Festival, and Eco-Science Schools Day.
  • Review the desertSMART Roadmap and identify key actions to be implemented
  • Deliver energy efficiency audits and education to Alice Springs and Tennant Creek communities
  • Continue to host the weekly Food for Alice local produce market
  • Continue to be represented on the Alice Springs Town Council Environment Advisory Committee
  • Deliver science engagement activities funded by the Inspiring Australia Science Engagement program.
  • Continue to provide support for the Alice Springs Community Garden
  • Deliver a 2018 sustainability workshop program

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