A State of the Environment Report, or SoE, helps Council and the community to assess and track trends in the environment and to determine if certain aspects are improving or worsening.
Under the Integrated Planning and Development Framework Councils are required to develop environmental objectives with their communities in relation to local environmental issues. These environmental objectives form part of each Council's overarching Community Strategic Plan. Under the new framework Councils are required to prepare annual reports which include reporting on their environmental objectives. The annual report in the year in which a Council election is held must include a State of the Environment Report. The next report is due in 2021 as the Council election was delayed due to COVID-19.
As one of four key themes of the Bathurst 2036 Community Strategic Plan (CSP), Bathurst Regional Council (BRC) is committed to environmental sustainability. The CSP outlines nine objectives which describe the desire of Council and the community to achieve environmental sustainability. These are to:
- promote sustainable and energy efficient growth.
- protect and enhance the region's landscapes, views, vistas, open spaces and the Macquarie River.
- protect and enhance the region's biodiversity.
- protect the region's unique heritage and history. To protect a unique identity.
- protect and enhance water quality and riparian ecology.
- minimise the City's environmental footprint.
- encourage less car dependency.
- secure a sustainable water supply and raise awareness on water issues.
- encourage sustainable waste management practices, including opportunities for energy generation.
The CSP was prepared based on extensive community consultation and the environmental objectives reflect the values and priorities of the local community.
While only required once every four years, BRC has chosen to prepare an annual Interim SoE so that it can more readily produce a comprehensive SoE Report in 2021 that covers the intervening years.
The reports describe how Council, its' partners and the community are working together to achieve the CSP environmental objectives. The report examines trends in key environmental indicators under the themes of Atmosphere and Climate, Land, Water, Biodiversity, Towards Sustainability and People and Communities.
In addition to preparing its own SoE, Council also participates in the Greater Central West Regional State of the Environment Report. This enables BRC to compare its activities on a regional basis with other local government areas and cities of similar size and demographics. It also facilitates better understanding of trends in the condition of environmental assets which transcend political boundaries.
State of the Environment Reports are presented in an easy to read format so that it is accessible to the wider community.