Daily Archives: July 26, 2015

TTG Kitchen Gardeners’ Backyard Chickens Workshop – 19 July

On Sunday 19 July the Kitchen Gardeners group rushed out of the foul weather into the Guildford Mechanics Institute to hear all about backyard chooks! Expert Barb Frey was on hand to deliver a thoroughly informative and engaging presentation on creating the right backyard environment for chickens, supplying quality food, maintaining hygiene, controlling parasites and deterring pests. It was great to see so many children along who were keen to learn about chooks.

I’m sure a few attendees left with some renovation ideas after Barb ran through the essentials for an effective pen. Each chicken in a backyard pen should have access to at least 3m2 – any less and you’re not free rangin’. Other things to keep in mind are giving chooks access to lawn/scrub to forage in, putting in stable roosts for night time and providing ample shade and secure fencing to ensure weather and vermin can’t interfere with your best laid plans…

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Other items covered by Barb included:

  • Getting your eggs checked – there are a range of chemicals that you should consider checking your eggs for. This link provides some relevant information: https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/poultry-birds/keeping-backyard-chickens?page=0%2C3.
  • If you have limited space and can’t provide a permanent chook run, chook tractors are very useful. These are large, moveable cages that you can place in different parts of your property.
  • It’s important to put comfortable material in your nesting boxes so your ladies can lay! Shredded paper and straw are two great options.
  • While it’s useful to give food scraps to chooks and these provide a range of nutrients, most scraps (especially vegetables) have a high water content and don’t provide all the nutrition that chickens require, especially protein. Laying pellets should be on hand at all times – they contain very little water and are an essential source of protein. An adult chicken can eat about 150g of pellets a day.
  • Chooks are vulnerable to a range of ailments, but most can be easily resolved if they are identified early and treated properly, and parasites are controlled. Scaly leg mites, feather mite and stick-fast mite are the most common conditions in Perth. For the scaly leg mite and stick-fast mite, a dewormer is required. For feather mites (comparable to head lice) poultry dust is required.

After some delicious afternoon tea we all wandered down the road to Flo’s place to see her extraordinary chicken coop. With nine chickens running around, this coop has it all – an open compost pit with chickens playing, nipple sprinkler heads, generous shade all around and little chicken rooms with spiffy curtains for roosting. Certainly inspiring and a great way to see the theory put into practice!

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10 things YOU can do to create a PLAYbourhood

1. Just ‘hang out’ at the front of your house, have breakfast or a cuppa out on the veranda, or a picnic lunch/dinner on the front lawn. The kids will find things to play with and you’ll likely meet plenty of passers by; some will probably stop for a chat.

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2. Put a cubby, trampoline or other fun items for children out the front of your house. Invite the neighbourhood kids to come and play. You may find your street really only needs one or two of these big ticket items.

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3. Have you got the perfect driveway for bikes and scooters? Then how about inviting kids to use your driveway to practice their skills. You could put some chalk elements on the driveway as an invitation.

4. Super simple, cheap and as easy as can be, tie a large rope to your letter box or a tree in your front yard and invite kids to skip. This could also be a great chance for local residents to stop for a bit incidental exercise on their morning or evening walk.

5. Have you got a great tree in your front yard that you could put a tree swing in? They are irresistible to kids and you are guaranteed to get passers by having a go.

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6. Buy a big bucket of chalk and add chalk games to your driveway, pavement or street. If you make a different one each week, kids will be intrigued to find out what’s coming next. Hopscotch is a big favourite here, but we’ve also done target practice with a chalk bullseye and bean bags. Leave plenty of chalk out the front as an invitation for kids to draw.

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7. Plant fruit trees and/or build veggie patches out the front or your house. If you are happy to share produce; put up a sign saying kids are welcome to help themselves. Cherry tomatoes and beans are a winner with small hands. Front yard gardening is a GREAT way to meet your neighbours.

8. Place a geocache in your front yard. Geocaching is a world wide treasure hunt where small treasures are hidden and GPS coordinates recorded on an app. Hunters download the app and search for any treasures near them. You could quickly become the most popular house in the neighbourhood.

9. What about organising a street party, either for a special occasion like Easter or Christmas, or just because you feel like it? Pick a date and put some flyers in your neighbours letter boxes. You can either hold it on a suitable verge, your front yard or even apply to the council to close of your street. Some councils have programs to support street parties, or you may be able to apply for a grant.

10. Tear down your fence! Okay, this might seem a bit radical (especially if you’ve just built one) and sometimes it’s just not practical (if you live on a main road), but let’s face it, high front yard fences are a barrier to creating community. If you don’t really need that fence, then maybe you could consider removing it, or replacing it with a low picket or wire fence. If you were considering putting one up, perhaps reconsider.

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And of course if you don’t have a front yard, or yours is just not suitable for kids to play in, you can still build the playbourhood by playing out the front at family, friends and neighbours. See you in the playbourhood!

EMRC Talks Rubbish on Hazelmere Incinerator Plans

Guest post by Hazelmere resident Peter Graham

Last Thursday I was once again a guest of the East Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC) with another information session for their proposed WWTE Plant in Hazelmere. Previous attempts to woo the public have failed, resulting in the EMRC being forced by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to carry out a full, Public Environmental Review (PER) of the project. This time around was a little different. Previously the proposal was to build a Pyrolysis plant yet now there is no mention of the term “pyrolysis” in the promotional literature. Confusingly, this isn’t the first name change for this type of operation. Back in the days of “plain-speak” they were called Incinerators. When that term (and the air) became toxic to the public they were renamed as Pyrolysis Plants (based on the technique of heating materials in the absence of oxygen). After another public revolt it has been repackaged as WWTE, or Wood Waste to Energy.

On the surface, the PER document is relatively inoffensive. It reads more easily than the previous version although you still might need a degree in chemistry to fully understand it. The proposal seems to be rational and well argued. The EMRC has a vast stockpile of wood waste, mainly from building projects that it wants to “recover” the energy from by cooking it in a kiln and then using the gasses generated to run gas turbines that will then generate electricity. Scrubbers in the smoke stack would extract almost all of the toxins generated and several thousand houses would receive Green electricity from a renewable resource, a resource that would otherwise be dumped in landfill.

As usual, the sting is in the fine print….or the bits that didn’t even make it in to the fine print.

A lesson in history and hair-splitting

The EMRC had promised residents some years earlier that they would not build an incinerator in Hazelmere. The EMRC now claims that this is not an incinerator as it does not burn or combust material: it gasifies it. This really is a matter of semantics. The process heats wood to around 600 degrees in the absence of oxygen, producing a flammable gas that is then combusted (aka incinerated) in a gas turbine. Even though it is a two stage process it still means that the wood is burnt/combusted/incinerated.

Justification of a Burn or Bury Policy

The EMRC has indicated that they have a “large existing market for wood chip fines and a smaller market for wood chip”. At the meeting a commercial chicken grower spoke effusively about the value and quality of wood fines (the finer particles after the wood stock has been ground) supplied to his business by the EMRC. My understanding is that it is the coarse chips which the EMRC is having difficulty selling. A logical step would be to run the coarse chips through the grinder a second time, thus generating more fines to fill the “large existing market”. There are also many other uses for the coarse wood chips. These include chipboard, structural beams, mulch, and soil stabilisation. Despite all this, EMRC Chairman Alan Pilgrim is quoted in this week’s Echo Newspaper as saying that there is no market for shredded wood and that if the plant did not proceed then the only alternative was landfill. This burn or bury policy is a tragic indictment of the EMRC and a far cry from the reuse/recycle policies it once championed.

The Waste Hierarchy

It is a requirement of both the EPA and Waste Authority that the waste sourced as input for waste to energy plants must target genuine residual waste that cannot feasibly be reused or recycled. The EPA and Waste Authority support the Waste Hierarchy which classifies the treatment of waste from prevention as the most desirable down to dumping in landfill as the least. Waste Hierarchies usually look like variations of the one shown below.

Waste hierarchy

Energy recovery is the process being touted by the EMRC. This is one of the least favoured options because it destroys the resource so that it can never be used again.

A Detailed Assessment of Air Quality and Movement for Public Safety

The EMRC states that they have carried out detailed modelling of air movements and air quality to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those living around the plant. This is in fact true…..except that they did the modelling at their Red Hill site, a breezy area on top of the Darling Scarp, surrounded by bushland. Red Hill is 16 Km from Hazelmere which is located on the Swan Coastal Plain, has dense residential housing, and has frequent temperature inversions in winter which trap and concentrate pollutants at ground level. Illogically, the EMRC believes that air movements in Hazelmere will be the same as they are at Red Hill. Their unwillingness to carry out a detailed local study implies  just how little the EMRC cares about the health of Hazelmere residents.

What is Already in the Air

Hazelmere and surrounds already bears a large burden of polluting industries in the form of several brickworks, plasterboard manufacturers, and a rendering plant, not to mention the significant flight path from Perth Airport. When introducing any new polluting industry to an area it is important to assess what is already in the air so the cumulative effects are known. But the EMRC report states “The project timetables have not been sufficient to enable background air quality data to be obtained at the specific proposal site”. Local residents should not be exposed to risk simply because the EMRC has not allotted sufficient time to assess the air pollutants and the damage which they might incur.

And so on…..

There are a raft of other inconsistencies in the report and presentation from a lack of detail on how feedstock is going to be sorted to avoid contaminants to the ease with which feed for the plant can be changed from clean wood to mixed waste with a works application to the EPA. The EMRC asks us to trust that it will act in our best interests however they seem to have no interest in earning that trust by being forthright, clear and thorough in planning this project.

Many residents in Hazelmere, Guildford, Midland, South Guildford, Bassendean and Woodbridge are just sick of being used as a dumping ground for the waste and excesses of the rest of Perth. Yes, we are all part of the problem when it comes to generating waste. Sadly, the imagination of the organisations that we employ to manage this waste can’t seem to stretch beyond the idea of Burn or Bury.

The EPA will shortly be considering the EMRC’s application to build this incinerator in Hazelmere. If you would like to view the Public Environmental Review written by the EMRC for this Project you can find it here:

https://consultation.epa.wa.gov.au/open-for-submissions/hazelmerewwte/consult_view

If you feel that it is not appropriate for this plant to be built in Hazelmere then you can lodge a submission with the EPA regarding this through the same web page.

Submissions close on 3 June, 2014.

Peter Graham, Hazelmere resident