Somerset Regional Council Meeting Highlights - 12 April 2023
Arts and Cultural Plan Adopted for Somerset region
Somerset Regional Council has further cemented its commitment to strengthening the arts and cultural heritage of the region with the adoption of its first arts and cultural strategy.
The Somerset Regional Council Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan 2023- 2028 focuses on the strategic development of the arts, culture and heritage in Somerset.
Somerset Deputy Mayor Helen Brieschke said the plan was developed with extensive community consultation.
“This included public workshops, a tour of the region’s arts and heritage venues and landmarks and more,” Cr Brieschke said.
“We know that arts and culture play an important role in helping build identity and strengthen social networks and council is committed to providing opportunities for further development of the arts and culture in Somerset.”
The plan is available at www.somerset.qld.gov.au.
Lowood Pool season extended
Somerset Regional Council, in consultation with the lessee of the Lowood Swimming Pool, Just Sports n Fitness, will extend the 2022/23 Lowood Pool season by four weeks.
The season extension will be from 17 April 2023 until 15 May 2023.
Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the extension was, in part, due to the facility opening later than normal in 2022 due to extensive pool upgrades.
“We thank the community for their patience and understanding while the upgrades were being carried out,” Cr Lehmann said.
“We understand the community desire to have this facility open longer than it traditionally has been and hope that this extension to the current season will be of benefit to pool users.”
The season extension will also double as a trial to assess usage during the cooler weather.
Landfill carbon credit project gets green light
Somerset Regional Council has given LGI Limited the green light to complete biogas extraction and flaring at its landfill site in Esk.
Natural Environment Recovery Sub-Group representative Councillor Kylee Isidro said Council has been working with LGI Limited who are a Local Government Association of Queensland local buy-approved supplier.
“Essentially what it means is LGI will capture and destroy carbon emissions from methane at our Esk landfill site,” Cr Isidro said.
“LGI will install and operate a flaring system at the landfill at no cost to Council and provide a percentage of carbon credit royalties to Council given sufficient volumes of methane destroyed.
“As well as having environmental benefits and potentially providing a new source of funds, the proposal will reduce the chances of underground fires at our landfill and improve safety.
“Many residents may not be aware that only 39% of Council’s audited revenue last financial year came from rate payments and we are continually looking for ways of sourcing revenue from people other than ratepayers where we can – like with this project.”
The contract with LGI will run for 15 years.
26 properties facing rate recovery action
Somerset Regional Council has approved starting sale of land action to recover about $193,000 in overdue rates.
Human Social Recovery Sub-Group Audit Committee member Councillor Cheryl Gaedtke said debt recovery was a basic business practice.
“While we would prefer not to go down this path, paying rates is not optional,” Cr Gaedtke said.
“The sale of land process provides for a minimum of three months for the overdue rates to be paid in full and we do our best to work with the relevant property owners and their mortgagees to try and collect the rates owing to try and avoid the next step.
“Where possible, we try to avoid incurring legal costs that would otherwise be recoverable from the landowners by producing the initial legal notices in-house.
"We all need to pay rates regardless of where we live. Our rates pay for vital services including road maintenance, parks, library services, public lighting, kerbside rubbish services and more.”
Properties are located throughout Somerset including Biarra, Buaraba, Coominya, Esk, Fernvale, Harlin, Kilcoy, Lowood, Minden, Mount Hallen, Somerset Dam, Toogoolawah, Villeneuve and Wanora.
Council refuses Fernvale development
Somerset Regional Council has knocked back a housing subdivision proposal earmarked for Fernvale.
The development application was for an 83-lot subdivision at 60 Millar Road, Fernvale.
The site, bounded by Millar Road, Fairneyview Fernvale Road and the Brisbane Valley Highway has been designated as future park residential land.
Somerset Councillor Jason Wendt said the application was deemed not to meet the requirements of the Somerset Region Planning Scheme.
“Reasons for refusal included inconsistencies with settlement pattern, overall density, minimum lot size, safe pedestrian access and development sequencing,” Cr Wendt said.
“Rural living is part of our town’s identities; however we need to have the right development in the right place with the right infrastructure to support it.
“Overall, this development application is not consistent with the intended character of the zone.”
“Council is supportive of development and economic growth in our region, particularly within the Urban footprint, however it must reflect the desired settlement pattern of the planning scheme.”
Tourism promotion in Somerset stepped up a notch
Promotion of Somerset as an ideal tourism destination has stepped up a notch with Somerset Regional Council adopting a strategic marketing approach.
The marketing campaign was identified as an outcome of the Somerset Tourism Strategy 2021-2025 to increase promotion and engagement of the Experience Somerset brand and stimulate the local economy through increased visitation.
Somerset Councillor Bob Whalley said the plan is essentially a targeted multi-platform tourism advertising campaign.
“The marketing plan and associated promotional campaign ensures branding clearly articulates Somerset’s unique selling proposition while promoting the tourism offerings in alignment with the wider South East Queensland branding and destination management framework.”
National Road Safety Week supported by Council
Somerset Regional Council is encouraging the community to support National Road Safety Week (NRSW) from 14-21 May.
NRSW was founded in memory of Sarah Frazer, who was killed alongside a tow truck driver in the emergency lane of a New South Wales highway in 2012.
Somerset Councillor Sean Choat said it was important for council to support the campaign and encourage others to ‘drive so others survive’.
“In somerset we have had our fair share of tragedies, all too often unfortunately,” Cr Choat said.
“Everyone needs to stop and think and make their safety and those around them a priority particularly when travelling on the road network.
“Everyone deserves to leave their home and return safe and this means everyone needs to take responsibility.”
NB: Somerset Regional Council held its meeting at the Kilcoy Visitor Information Centre on Wednesday, 12 April 2023 at 9am.