New suburbs not so green

The new Molonglo housing developments may not be as environmentally friendly as it was once mooted to be.

The ACT Greens are so concerned the ACT Government will not uphold a commitment to ensure the project is sustainable they will hold a round table discussion on Wednesday with their Labor Party colleagues.

It is not the first meeting on the subject and according to the Greens member for Molonglo Caroline Le Couteur there has been no resolution reached with government.

Labor entered into an agreement with the Greens at the last election that stated Molonglo would incorporate excellence in sustainable design and include a third pipeline for non-potable water, constructions of public transport infrastructure from the outset of the development, mandatory solar passivity and a pedestrian friendly design.

But Ms Le Couteur told the Weston Creek Community Council (WCCC) last week there had been no indication yet by the government that Molonglo would be any different from other housing developments in the ACT.

She said with the first lots set to be sold next April, the infrastructure for a bus network would not be installed in time for the new residents, who are likely to move in next December.

“We were very clear about this when we made the agreement” Ms Le Couteur said.

And with the development set to come on line soon,, she said it was important this infrastructure was in place from the start.

If it is not completed in a timely fashion the Greens are concerned people will be forced to use their vehicles rather than catch a bus and get us to having to do this, which will mean the later infrastructure would not be effective.

“The residents could have one car instead of two and commute by bus which would have a significant impact on our rods and save them money too” Ms Le Couteur said.

Another area of development the Greens are adamant about is the use of grey water.

The Greens’ Shane Rattenbury told the WCCC he would like to see better use of water on a suburb-wide scale.

When questioned about the extra cost of installing grey-water systems, he said it would not be much on top of building costs – perhaps an additional $5,000 – which would help the environment.

“We need to look at housing affordability over a lifetime, we need to be more imaginative,” Mr Rattenbury said.

Ms Le Couteur said it made sense to have these environmental aspects in place at the outset of a development.

“It’s a brand new development and it is time to make it as best as we can, and with climate change and drought on our hands this is our opportunity'” Ms Le Couteur said following the meeting.

“We are very concerned the government’s commitment won’t be upheld.”

The Greens MLA said it was important the project “was right from then beginning” but said she would continue to fight even if the first homes were sold without environmental credentials.

“We can still change it for later suburbs but that would not be ideal,” she said.

“At this stage we are very concerned about Molonglo.”

The Chief Minister’s office had not responded to questions about the sustainability of Molonglo by the time of print.

by Nicole Rogowski
The Southside Chronicle
1 December 2009

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