ENVIRONMENTALIST and Austinmer resident Jill Merrin has been appointed to the chair of Wollongong City Council’s new Environment and Sustainability Reference Group.
The group also includes representatives of Wollongong’s Aboriginal community, climate change and environment groups, the National Parks Association, and the Office of Environment and Heritage.
The 13-person reference group will be responsible for reviewing the Council’s Sustainability Policy, as well as developing environmental strategies to support the policy and provide advice on Council’s strategic projects and policies that may impact on the environment.
Cr Merrin said her main priorities for the Environment and Sustainability Reference Group are to make sure that ecologically sustainable development principles are incorporated into Council’s processes and structures.
The Greens councillor said she also wants to improve communication and coordination amongst the different sections that affect the environment, such as planning, parks maintenance, roads, natural area management, and floodplain engineering.
“(I want to) improve the protection and management of Wollongong’s wildlife, through things like zoning and development controls; greatly increased funding for natural area management; and ‘greening’ our streets and parks,” Cr Merrin told The Bulli Times.
Other priorities for Cr Merrin include improving the sustainability of Council’s buildings by reducing the amount of energy, water and materials.
Wollongong City Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the reference group will provide sound advice on the sustainability and long term environment impacts of projects and policies.
“When talking with people from all over the city, the environment is a major concern and this is reflected in the vision the community has provided for our draft Wollongong 2022 Community Strategic Plan,” Cr Bradbery said.
“Now we have a new reference group and they will be important in providing advice to Council on strategic projects and Council policies related to, or that may impact on, Wollongong’s environment and the achievement of long-term sustainability. The group will bring with them a wealth of local knowledge and professional experience that will act as an ‘environmental’ rudder for Council.”
The immediate priority of the Reference Group is to review Council’s Sustainability Policy for consideration by Council.
Members of the reference group include: Councillor Jill Merrin [Chair], Cr George Takacs, Cr Greg Petty, Carmelo San Gil, Katrina Skellern, Brendan Cook, Frances Paterson, Jade Kennedy, Lyle Davis, Rowan Huxtable, Helen Wilson, Chris Presland, Simon Wallace-Pannell.