Saturday 10 June 2006

Gorbachev warns against new nuclear power plants

© 2005
Last Update: Friday, June 9, 2006. 5:47am (AEST)

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, whose time in office included the world's worst nuclear accident, says countries building new nuclear power plants to tackle global warming should think again. From Japan to the United States, governments seeking an alternative to burning fossil fuels for power are reviewing the de facto ban on building new nuclear plants that followed the explosion at Chernobyl nuclear station in Ukraine in April 1986. "Think again, think seven times again before you leap and start construction of new nuclear power plants," Mr Gorbachev told a meeting of British lawmakers at London's Houses of Parliament, speaking through an interpreter. "With my experience of Chernobyl I know what is involved."

The explosion of one reactor required a superpower country to spend tens of billions of roubles. "Still there was the longer pollution of the soil, the deaths of a number of people and consequences that will be far reaching." Nuclear advocates, who argue that nuclear power emits little of the major greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, reject comparisons with Chernobyl. They say the Chernobyl design was flawed and the plant badly run, and that the accident could not be repeated with new designs, fail-safe mechanisms and technology.

But Mr Gorbachev says climate change can only be stopped through a combination of developing new energy sources like solar and wind and increasing efficiency of energy usage. New predictions being studied by UN scientists for a report next year point to average global temperatures rising by three degrees Celsius this century, melting ice caps and causing floods, storms and famines. Environmentalists mostly agree with Mr Gorbachev that the answer lies in non-nuclear and non-carbon alternatives to traditional power sources like nuclear, coal, gas and oil.

Court sets August date to hear wind farm challenge

© 2005
Last Update: Thursday, June 8, 2006. 1:00pm (AEST)

The Federal Court has set aside four days to hear the Victorian Government's attempt to overturn a ban on the Bald Hills wind farm in the state's south-east. The State Government approved the wind farm near Wilson's Promontory, despite strong objections from locals. After a two-year study, the Federal Government banned the wind farm to protect the orange-bellied parrot. The State Government and generation company Windpower are challenging the ban in the Federal Court.

The case is scheduled to start on August 28 before Justice Weinberg.

Greener water and light

The Australian,
June 08, 2006

Why the need for nuclear when carbon pricing is more efficient energy use?
By Nic Frances

WE all know the federal Government is touting nuclear energy as a solution to global warming and as a "clean" way to power giant water desalination plants. But there is a far more immediate and cheaper alternative. And one state is showing the way. In NSW, more than 100,000 households have already received free of charge, a six-pack of low-energy light globes and many of them a water-saving shower head as well.

That number could easily grow to a million or more households before the end of this year.

Yes, in the halls of power, promoting simple consumer energy efficiency in the suburbs and regions may sound pretty uninspiring alongside grand visions of multi-billion-dollar nuclear power plants lining our coast, next to similarly expensive desalination plants. Yet it's an amazingly easy, if low-key way for Australia to avoid building a number of new base load power stations altogether - whether coal, gas or nuclear - and save huge volumes of water.

So, as the nuclear debate we're being told we have to have gathers fury, and carbon dioxide emissions rise at the same rates as the political hot air in Canberra, one state is quietly fighting climate change through a very simple market-friendly action. It put a price on carbon.

The NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme, Australia's only mandated carbon trading system, has started a quiet revolution in the suburbs. A revolution that could soon spread around the world.

It may surprise many people to learn that carbon trading is now a dynamic, multi-million-dollar a year market in NSW with buyers, sellers, brokers, watchful regulators and new businesses rushing to compete.

In a little more than two years, about 20 million tradeable carbon credits, worth more than $250 million at today's market prices, have been created via accredited carbon dioxide emission reductions from 159 separate projects, and more than six million have been traded.

Globally the world's carbon trades totalled more than $US10 billion in value in 2005, up from $US1 billion in 2004. According to a World Bank carbon trading expert, last year's figure is considerably more than the entire trade value of the US wheat crop, at about $US7.1 billion, making carbon a commodity on the make internationally.

Unlike nuclear power stations, a price on carbon is no longer a theory, at least in NSW. And it lets ordinary people make a difference. When customers take the crucial step of installing the globes and shower head, they can on average cut more than $150 a year off their energy and water bills, while also reducing annual carbon dioxide emissions by up to one tonne and water use by about 21,000 litres a year. If one home does it the savings are worthwhile but small. If a million homes do it, the economic and environmental benefits from this energy and water-saving activity are large. And that's the plan in the next year, a million homes.

Installation in a million homes would reduce pressure on government to increase supply by building new power stations and dams, cut carbon dioxide pollution by about one million tonnes a year (equivalent to taking 300,000 cars off the road permanently) and save about 21 billion of litres of drinking water a year. So it's good economics and good politics. It saves money for those who shop and vote. It helps the environment. And it creates economic activity and jobs.

Replicate that across most of the six million or so homes in Australia and the savings both financially and environmentally will get very big indeed. And all governments need to do is put a price on carbon. If this approach was taken nationally, the benefits would be considerably greater than the entertainment created by the nuclear debate. We'd see consumers benefiting financially, the environment being protected, and government avoiding some costly and politically unpalatable infrastructure decisions. Add to this the entrepreneurial businesses that are finding creative ways to seize the opportunity the market has created and that's a lot of winners.

Having spent much of my working life searching for innovative ways to help the socially disadvantaged - among other things, I ran the Brotherhood of St Laurence for five years - I reckon I know a good deal for people when I see one. For my money, a nuclear future isn't the debate we need at all. Certainly not until we've exhausted the opportunities for simple energy efficiency in all walks of life, from our homes to our grandest infrastructure. It may seem an old-fashioned ethic, but "waste not want not" - in this case of energy and water - makes more sense than creating hot air and nuclear waste.

Nic Frances, an Anglican priest, is founder of Easy Being Green, a company with a goal to make 70 per cent of Australian homes 30 per cent more energy and water efficient within 10 years.

Great pall of China

The Bulletin, Page: 60
Tuesday, 13 June 2006

GLOBAL warming is the classic boiling frog issue. It's done very slowly. Too quickly, and the frog jumps out. The global-warming frog has been a long time aboiling.

A continuing debate among experts as to whether the temperature is even rising has kept the issue docile. (I have always accepted Mark Twain's version of "an expert" as being just somebody from out of town.) But it's now settled that boiling is actually occurring. Even the US Climate Change Science Program, the George W. Bush administration's co-ordinating agency for global-warming research, conceded last month that it had found "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system".

That falls rather short of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent description of climate change as "a challenge so far-reaching in its impact and irreversible in its destructive power that it alters radically human existence". Our own prime minister, John Howard, has eschewed the apocalyptic approach. With his trademark pragmatism and political guile, he has declared that it's time Australia had a full scale national debate on nuclear power.

The knee-jerk reaction of the Canberra commentariat has been to define the Howard initiative as an exercise in wedge politics aimed at exploiting Labor Party differences over this policy space. There might be more than a grain of truth in this. But the global-warming issue has reached a point where it can no longer be ignored. Of course, some people have been saying that for years.

But in the democracies of the developed world, such warnings have had little currency among elected officials. The long-term nature of the threat meant that consideration, let alone actual action, could be postponed because its solution involved unpopular measures. This complacency has now been displaced by an emerging sense of urgency. A major contributing factor to this mood shift has been the fast-gathering economic implications of China's rapid industrialisation.

It's not just that Howard has suddenly focused on our absence of a nuclear policy in an Australia that has significant uranium reserves. We will have to deal with China, a country that proposes to build 30 nuclear reactors during the next two decades to supplement its present nine reactors. That's part of it. Doubtless Washington would be much more comfortable with such a trading prospect if uranium was enriched in Australia, not China but that could require considerable marketing on the domestic political front.

However, China's voracious appetite for energy represents a larger, more vexed and pressing issue than potential Australian uranium sales. Its industrialisation drive has been a major global disinflationary force in recent years. As Morgan Stanley's Andy Xie points out, manufacturing production has relocated to China on a massive scale in the past five years, due to the country's cheap labour and lax enforcement of environmental standards. Xie believes that the lack of enforcement of environmental rules may have been more important than labour costs in attracting production relocation.

Whether that's been the case or not, the reality has been that the world has dumped a large quantum of its industrial pollution in China in the past five years. According to China's Environmental Protection Agency, pollution is 12 times the world average per unit of GDP. The emission of sulphur dioxide is 22.5 million tonnes compared with a maximum carrying capacity of 12 million tonnes for the country.

The World Health Organisation estimates that (500 million people are exposed to SO2 levels above their emission standards. When mixed with nitrogen oxides and chemically transformed, SO2 causes acid rain -which devastates crops and forests. WHO estimates that 30% of China is seriously affected by acid rain. Two-fifths of the country's major river bases are polluted.

Ninety per cent of the rivers running through cities are severely polluted. Some 300 million rural residents have no access to purified water. Two-thirds of the population suffers from poor air quality. China is estimated to emit 13% of global carbon emission from fossil fuels -second only to the US, This share is projected to rise to 18% by 2025. The health costs, mostly paid in terms of life quality and age expectancy, implicit in these environmental statistics are huge and growing.

Not surprisingly, there are disturbing implications in terms of social and political stability, especially from peasants dispossessed of land to make way for factories. The Beijing government is conscious of this and has moved pollution control up its political agenda. But just as China's large and growing contribution to greenhouse warming is a global, not simply a Chinese problem, so too are the economic consequences. China's policy of export-led growth through rapid industrialisation on the back of low-cost labour and minimal pollution costs has been a major factor in delivering low inflation to developed economies, especially the US.

China now acknowledges the need to normalise pollution costs. As Xie puts it: "Part of the unsustainable disinflation from 2002 through 2005 has to be regurgitated." That could be very difficult for a US economy that is struggling with high oil costs and a heavily indebted household sector to handle. Recent volatility in financial markets partly reflects concerns about how the Federal Reserve will react should inflation pick up.

With the strong correlation we see across global financial markets, any shock on Wall Street will cascade through the global system. Under such circumstances, especially given the unknown dimensions of the global market in leveraged derivatives, we could see the financial market tail wagging the non-financial economy dog. The uneasy relationship between global warming and global financial-economic health is not going to be a phase. The linkage will be ongoing.

The imminent dilemma involves China and the US, but the populous developing economies of India, Brazil and Russia are also engaged in industrial catch-up. That has obvious implications in terms of energy production and greenhouse emissions. The China situation further underlines the flawed nature of the Kyoto treaty. Kyoto's failure is usually ascribed to the refusal of the US and Australia to ratify the agreement.

Even had they done so, Kyoto would not have solved the pollution problem driven by the breakneck industrialisation of China. Importantly, Kyoto has not been a waste of time. It has launched a carbon-trading market that, despite early teething problems, holds out the real prospect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the developed countries where it is operating. Kyoto also demonstrated the practical futility of imposing a top-down command model on environmental policy.

There is no way the US Senate will ever accept a UN direction on domestic economic policy. Even Australia, with no history of intransigence, would not go along with Kyoto. The major flaw in the Kyoto approach, however, is that it had no answer to the developing economies' demands that they had a moral right to catch up with the developed world. One way to address this issue is to point to China's experience in discounting the social and political costs of pollution.

Warwick McKibbin from the Australian National University believes that individual countries could address their economic aspirations with locally based carbon-trading markets. It's a model he has been developing and refining for nearly a decade. The concept has been successfully pioneered in the US where acid-rain pollution has been dramatically reduced. While there is no costless way to stop and then reduce global warming, the impact of a long-term, gradual approach is far from draconian.

But the delays involved in conceding that global warming was actually a problem have increased the costs. The devil has not been so much in the detail as in the politics. And, to be honest, that's still the case.

Wednesday 7 June 2006

Consider all energy options

Hervey Bay Observer, Page: 18
Wednesday, 7 June 2006

World Environment Day is a reminder of the need for Australia to consider all its energy options, the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) said yesterday. The Australian Government's own figures show that even accounting for all existing measures to curb climate change, Australia's greenhouse emissions from stationary energy will be 63% higher than 2000 levels by 2025. Clearly something more than 'business as usual needs' to be done, and the clean energy industry welcomes the Prime Minister's debate on future energy generation. But the debate must consider all the options that can reduce emissions immediately - including gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Describing the need to act now as an imperative, the Executive Director of the BCSE, Mr Ric Brazzale, said it would be many years before the outcomes of the debate on energy made an impact. "Should nuclear power prove viable in Australia it would take at least 15 years before it made even the slightest impact on our emissions," said Mr Brazzale. "Likewise with cleaner fossil fuels and geosequestration. These technologies are far from proven and have a long way to go before they could be considered economic."

Yet Australia cannot wait - while it will take 10, 15 or 20 years for 'new beaut' technologies to come on stream, our emissions will continue to grow and the task of adjusting to a global carbon-constrained economy becomes more costly. "If we are to avoid future shocks to our prosperity and economic growth it is essential we continue to deploy known, existing cleaner energy generation. This includes gas, geothermal, wind, solar, bioenergy, and hydro - while maximizing opportunities for the easiest, cheapest greenhouse reduction of all: energy efficiency," Mr Brazzale said.

Powerful solution

The Australian, Page: 24
Monday, 5 June 2006

MORE than 90 per cent of Australia's electricity comes from fossil fuel fired power stations. This energy use accounts for about 68 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, making it by far the largest contributor. More than a quarter of a million households and businesses are choosing to purchase some or all of their electricity from government accredited Green Power sources. Green Power is renewable energy produced from clean renewable sources such as solar, wind, water and biomass.

The National Green Power Accreditation Program sets stringent environmental and reporting standards for renewable energy products offered by electricity suppliers to households and businesses. When customers choose a Green Power accredited product, energy suppliers agree to buy a requested amount of electricity from approved new renewable energy sources. Green Power electricity provider sales and purchases are then independently audited on an annual basis. The Green Power tick is the guarantee that contributions are helping bring about the installation of new sustainable energy projects.

Since its inception in 1997, sales of green Power through the National Green Power Accreditation Program have reduced greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation by about 2.75 million tonnes a year. This is reckoned to be the equivalent of taking more than 600,000 cars off the road for a year.

Local plan to cut greenhouse gases

Mordialloc Chelsea Leader, page: 8
monday, 5 june 2006

Kingston Council will invest $250,000 in the next five years to cut greenhouse gases and save water. the council has adopted a greenhouse action plan to reduce its own greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent by 2010 from 2000 levels. street lighting accounts for about half of emissions and council community buildings contribute 42 per cent of CO2 emissions. the plan was discussed when kingston held its first climatechange forum on april 5, attended by more than 50 residents who were encouraged to do their bit.

mayor topsy petchey said protecting the environment was the responsibility of all levels of government and the community. "global warming is expected to threaten our water supplies, the weather, crop production and health in the lifetimes of our children, " cr petchey said. the council will: fit key council buildings with energy-efficient lighting; upgrade airconditioning; progressively buy 15 per cent of its electricity from wind farms or hydroelectricity schemes; continue to buy energy-efficient office equipment; enforce the state government's five-star energy rating for new houses; encourage car-pooling among its staff; buy smaller, more fuel-efficient fleet vehicles; and, upgrade toilets to dual-flush at northcliffe lodge in edithvale, install water tanks at waves leisure centre and install waterless urinals at kingston arts centre.

Monday 5 June 2006

Wind part of solution to Australia's energy needs

The Ballarat Courier, Page: 21
Friday, 2 June 2006

THE energy debate in Australia will continue to take centre stage as Australia's energy requirements skyrocket at a level higher, per capita, than any other developed nation. Pacific Hydro, one of Australia's leading renewable energy developers, says the debate should not be centring on which source of energy we should be switching to but what combination of energy we will need to provide our energy needs into the future. It believes Australia is in a unique position to take advantage of its incredible wind resources and wind energy has the ability to provide up to 20 per cent of Australia's energy resources. Currently, wind energy provides about 1 per cent of our energy needs.

While there is no suggestion that wind energy should be our only source of energy, it can certainly form part of the solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the country's growing energy needs. Love it or hate it, wind energy does not produce greenhouse gases and can help us to protect our environment. The myths about noise and impact on birdlife continue to be disproved - you have only to visit a wind farm to see for yourself. Pacific Hydro is one of Australia's leading renewable energy developers.

Not only working across western Victoria, Pacific Hydro has operations in the Philippines, Chile, Fiji and North America as well as other parts of Australia. While the company's origins are in run-of-river hydro, in recent years it has expanded into wind resources as well. As drought becomes a fact of life for many rural communities, wind farms have the added benefit of assisting to drought-proof properties. Challicum Hills wind farm near Ararat has been operating for about three years and enjoys overwhelming support from the local community.

The company's values are represented in its operations, which aim to have a minimal impact on the environment and it has also demonstrated its commitment to the communities in which it works, through a newly established community grants scheme known as the Sustainable Communities Fund. Recently the company provided over $40,000 in grants to community groups in and around Ararat in the first round of payments. Pacific Hydro executive manager corporate affairs and marketing, Andrew Richards said: "Our wind farms already provide significant environmental benefits via the production of clean energy so our aim for the Sustainable Communities Fund is to promote positive, longterm social and community-based outcomes."

July start for wind farm

The Mid North Broadcaster, Page: 1
Thursday, 1 June 2006

Preliminary site investigation works at AGL's much-anticipated wind farm near Hallett will begin by the end of July, according to Suzlon Energy Australia which has the contract to design and build the wind farm. AGL's project manager Steven Oswald said the Brown Hill wind farm, with 45 turbines with a capacity of around 2.1MW each, would be capable of generating enough energy for the annual requirements of approximately 54,000 homes. "It's estimated that around 330 GWh of electricity will be generated each year," he said.

Mr Oswald said the wind farm will be positioned so that any potential impacts to the local community are minimised. Suzlon Energy Australia project manager Peter Reed said the preliminary site investigations will probably last around six weeks. "After that we will be putting in four test anchors and commencing work on access roads. By the end of July mobilisation of the civil crew will be complete with construction of the wind farm to start in earnest at the beginning of September.

Up to 30 people will be employed in civil works onsite until around June 2007, and another 10 will be employed for electrical wprk commencing in August this year. A further 25 people will be employed for haulage, crane work and erection of the towers which will also run until June 2007. Mr Reed said while full construction should be complete by the beginning of 2008, Suzlon Energy will continue to employ eight full-time maintenance and service workers at the wind farm. Accommodation operators Maureen and Barry Wright said they anticipate a boost to occupancy in Burra Heritage Cottages Tiver's Row, judging by past influx.

During the 18 month period of the Hallett Power Station construction in 2001/02, Mrs Wright said they had an approximate increase of 20%. She said it was good to hear construction of the wind farm was not far off. "It's very good news. We hope it will boost our summer occupancy," she said.

$400m Giant Wind Farm

The Adelaide Advertiser, Page: 1
Friday, 2 June 2006

SOUTH Australia will be home to the nation's largest wind farm after last night's announcement of a $400 million expansion of the Lake Bonney wind farm in the South-East. Babcock and Brown Wind Partners said it would spend another $400 million installing 53 more wind turbines, which will generate 159 megawatts of power. This will add to the 46 towers now at the site, near Millicent. In total, the completed wind farm will provide enough energy to power more than 130, 000 homes.

The new turbines, on 80m high towers - just 7m shorter than the Hyatt Regency Hotel building in Adelaide - are expected to be finished by mid-2008. The current 67m high towers caused problems for firefighters in January, when a fire sparked by an electrical fault proved hard to put out because the tops of the towers were out of reach. The fire also triggered an automatic shutdown of the facility during a heatwave, contributing to blackouts which left 63,000 homes without energy. South Australia leads the nation in wind power, with sites also at Starfish Hill, Canunda, Wattle Point and Cathedral Rocks, with another planned for Hallett in the Mid North.

Continued Page 4From Page 1 A spokesman for Infrastructure Minister Pat Conlon said it was another example of South Australia leading the way in wind farm development. "While other states have problems getting wind farms off the ground, this is another example of SA leading the way, " he said. "This state already has 51 per cent of the nation's wind energy and this will further add to our capacity. "Wind Partners chief executive Peter O'Connell said the Lake Bonney wind farm was something to be proud of. "The Lake Bonney wind farms are located on a world class wind site and are being built on a world class scale, " he said. "Australia can be proud of this very significant contribution to the world's renewable energy generating capacity. "

Company chairman Peter Hofbauer said: "The construction of the second stage of the Lake Bonney asset, which enjoys strong community support, will create the largest wind farm in Australia and one of the largest wind farms in the world. "(This development) highlights the huge potential for investment in wind energy in Australia in a global market that is forecast to attract over $173 billion of investment in the five years to 2010. " Construction of the new turbines will start immediately and take about 18 months.

The Lake Bonney development trumps AGL's $263 million, 45 turbine Hallett wind farm, which is expected to be finished by December 2007.

Roaring 40s seals big deal

The Mercury, Page: 13
Friday, 2 June 2006

CALLS for a major lift in Australia's renewable energy target were renewed yesterday, as a Tasmanian company signed a major wind-farm deal in China. Yesterday, Roaring 40s sealed a $300 million deal with major Chinese energy company Guohua Energy. And the Australian Greens backed the call by Roaring 40s for the Federal Government to lift its renewable energy target to prevent more investment being driven offshore. The Greens will challenge the Australian Government to match China's renewable energy target by proposing amendments to the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill, which will be debated in Parliament later this month.

Greens energy spokesperson Christine Milne said it was alarming that China was benefiting from the jobs and investment that could be rolling out in Australian communities. ''The leadership being shown by China in setting a 15 per cent target for renewable energy is not only great for the global environment but it will boost the Chinese economy by creating competitive advantage in renewable energy technology, '' Senator Milne said. Earlier last month, Roaring 40s axed plans for its multimillion dollar Heemskirk wind farm on Tasmania's West Coast, blaming Canberra's abandonment of the Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets. The loss of the project cast a doubt over Roaring 40s' other big Tasmanian project at Musselroe Bay in the North-East.

''This refusal to support the industry, and environment minister Ian Campbell's recent interventions on questionable grounds to prevent wind projects, means Australia is failing to capitalise on the investment required to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and avert the worst consequences of climate change, '' Senator Milne said. Roaring 40s' Chinese project will begin construction later this year and provide 48.75MW of power. The first-stage $80 million project is being built near Rongcheng city, in Shandong Province on China's east coast.

Tasmanians will build wind farms in China

The Examiner, Page: 5
Friday, 2 June 2006

Renewable Energy company Roaring 40s has secured contracts to build up to three new wind farms on the east coast of China. The first 49MW wind farm will be a $80 million project near Rongcheng City in Shandong Province on China's East Coast. Roaring 40s managing director Mark Kelleher said the Chinese wind farm marked a breakthrough into East China and the first of what he hoped would be a fruitful relationship with a major Chinese energy company."China is embracing renewable energy as a means of meeting increasing energy demand and improving the environment," he said.

Mr Kelleher said this was the company's second major client in China and was thanks, in part, to the tariff arrangement the Chinese Government had in place for renewable energy. Roaring 40s recently put all wind development in Australia on hold because of the Federal Government's reluctance to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. This has included the $300 million wind farm project Heemskirk that was earmarked for the West Coast. But in a positive sign for the company, Mr Kelleher said recent talks with the Federal Government revealed that it may be prepared to look at renewable incentives.

Mr Kelleher said construction would start on the wind farm later this year and full commissioning of the project would be by mid-2007. Roaring 40s is a joint venture between a Hong Kong-based power company CLP Group and Hydro Tasmania.

Pacific Hydro hands out $40,000

The Moyne Gazette, Page: 17
Thursday, 1 June 2006

EIGHT district community groups and projects will share in $40,000 made available by Pacific Hydro. The Yambuk Tennis Club, Port Fairy Surf Lifesaving Club, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Framlingham Aboriginal Trust, Port Fairy Cycling Club, Moyne Shire Council, the Port Fairy heated swimming pool project and Brophy Family and Youth Services recieved allocations at a reception at the Victoria Hotel yesterday. Part of its Sustainable Communities Fund, the funding is part of a long-term commitment to support projects in areas where the company is operating. Pacific Hydro chief executive officer Rob Grant promised the good news would continue.

''This will be the first of many annual payments Pacific Hydro will make over the operational life of our Codrington and Yambuk wind farms and we look forward to being a constructive member of the local community for many years to come, '' Mr Grant said. ''We are delighted to make money available to local organisations that are pursuing very worthwhile projects in their community. '' More than 50 organisations in the Port Fairy region applied for first-round funding, the requests totalling more than $600,000. Mr Grant said the company was overwhelmed by the response to the fund.

''All the applications put forward were worthy of funding and choosing these initial recipients was a difficult task. In this regard, we would like to thank Moyne Shire Council and members from the local community for their guidance, advice and support in allocating funding, '' he said. The Sustainable Communities Fund will open for second-round applications in the coming months.