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Elevating ESD Targets project

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Council participated in stage 1 of the Elevating ESD Targets Planning Policy Amendment project, the invitation for which was extended to all Victorian councils. ESD is defined as ’environmentally sustainable development (or design)’. This work is being driven by the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE), which is auspiced by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), and the Cities of Moreland and Yarra.

Find out more about CASBE here -

Project background

The project is the progression of local ESD Policy work that other Victorian councils have been developing over the past decade. The aim of the project is to deliver revised and elevated ESD targets, including targets for zero carbon development.

Stage 1 of the project involved developing an evidence base to support a future planning scheme amendment to introduce ESD policy into the Mount Alexander Planning Scheme (the planning scheme amendment process is stage 2 of this project).

Why Council joined the project

This project was an excellent opportunity for Council, particularly as it was a group effort by 31 Victorian Councils. Given that development constructed now will impact the municipality’s sustainability for many years to come. It is projected that by 2050, half of Australia’s building stock will be built from 2019 onwards. The opportunity to influence future change can be made today for the benefit of current and future generations.

What informed and supported Council’s participation in this project:

• The Mount Alexander Planning Scheme Review 2019 (adopted) included a recommendation to prepare a local planning policy on ‘Environmental Sustainability’ to address energy, waste, and water efficiency issues.
Community feedback received during consultation for Plan Harcourt emphasised the importance of nature and environmentally sustainable design.

• In December 2019, Council declared a climate emergency recognising that urgent action is needed to address the current and future impacts of climate change on the health, economy and wellbeing of the local community and its environment. In making the declaration, Council recognised that action would need to come from all parts of the community over many years to reduce greenhouse emissions, adapt to the changing environment and manage an increasing number and intensity of emergencies. A key outcome of the Climate Emergency declaration was the development of a Community Zero Net Emissions Plan, which has the goal to reach zero-net emissions for the Mount Alexander Shire community by 2030. An online community forum was created to feed into this plan, bringing together ideas on how to build a collective vision for a carbon reduced future. Key messages received via this forum highlight community members’ keenness for achieving net zero emissions, and how this plan is welcomed. One particular key message identified the following concern:

Stage 2 of the project - planning scheme amendment

Stage 2 of the project has progressed with 24 Councils lodging a planning scheme amendment application with the State Government seeking authorisation on 22 July 2022. The amendment seeks to introduce planning policy that elevates sustainability requirements for new buildings and encourages a move towards net zero carbon development.

Mount Alexander Shire Council is waiting for further work to be completed which outlines the financial impacts of the proposed standards on development costs and development viability, prior to deciding to participate in stage 2 of the project. This means that Council was not part of the 24 Councils that submitted the planning scheme amendment lodgment in July.

We will continue to monitor the progress of the amendment to understand how we can continue involvement in the project into the future.

You can find out more information about stage 2 of the project on CASBE's project web page.

Other relevant information

The ESD roadmap project is another project which is being led by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Amendment VC216 made changes to planning policy across all planning schemes in Victoria to support ESD, as part of Stage 1 of the roadmap. Find out more about the ‘ESD roadmap’ project here -

The State Government has also recently released a gas substitution roadmap, which you can find out more about here. Amendment VC221 made changes to all planning schemes in Victoria by facilitating all-electric developments to support implementation of Victoria’s Climate Change Strategy 2021 and Gas Substitution Roadmap 2022. The amendment changes the VPP and all planning schemes by amending clauses that require developments to be connected to reticulated gas and amending the referral requirements.


For further information on this project, please contact Council’s Strategic Planning team on (03) 5471 1700 or email

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