Tag Archives: environment

Artificial turf budget blows out by 200% – now more than footpaths

Marrickville Greens – media release

2 June 2014Max-Arlington-Reserve-800px

Ratepayers will be furious that the cost of controversial project of installing artificial turf at Arlington Reserve has blown out to over $2 million, more than 200% from initial estimate of $1 million, with more cost rises likely as contractors struggle with unstable soils.

According to a Question on Notice lodged by the Greens:

  •  $1 million was originally allocated for installing artificial turf at Arlington Reserve in the 2013-14 budget.
  • By September 2013 this had blown out to $1.8 million when Council accepted the construction tender.
  • At May 2014 the current cost is $2.05 million with further costs to come as work continues on preparing the subsurface (approximately 70% complete).
  • The latest projected end of year result for footpaths spend is $1,236,687, while local roads projected result is $2,166,410.

“Residents are entitled to feel furious about the massive cost blow out.  Labor are wasting more and more ratepayers money on a folly that is unwanted by the local community,” said Greens Councillor Max Phillips.

“Mayor Jo Haylen needs to explain how a 200% budget blow out is acceptable and why Marrickville Council is now spending more on installing plastic grass than on footpaths?

“Prior to the last election Labor promised residents of Dulwich Hill that Arlington Reserve was the wrong place for artificial turf, but at the first regular council meeting after the election they broke this promise and pursued this folly.

“Artificial turf needs specialist cleaning and maintenance and the surface must be replaced every ten years.  The Greens fear this is just the beginning of cost blow outs to be borne by the ratepayers of Marrickville.

“The Save Arlington community group and the Greens warned that the cost of artificial turf could blow out significantly and unfortunately those warning have become reality.”

Contact: Cr Max Phillips 0419 444 91

 Question on Notice of cost of artificial turf

WestConnex Public Meeting 10 Oct 2013

Map Proposed WestConnex Route 2013

Map Proposed WestConnex Route 2013

Join residents, public transport advocates & Greens Councillors at a public meeting to learn more about the NSW and Federal Government’s proposed WestConnex Sydney motorway. WestConnex is a $13 billion dollar 33km motorway project. In part, the proposed plan would extend the M4 from the Taverners Hill area to Strathfield and include the construction of a tunnel from Taverners Hill to St Peters via Camperdown. The Greens support investment in public transport not more roads and have released a comprehensive plan for Parramatta Rd (more information below).

Where: Leichhardt Town Hall, Cnr. Marion St and Norton St, Leichhardt

When: 6.30pm-8.00pm

Speakers: Dr Michelle Zeibots (Institute for Sustainable Futures), Gavin Gatenby (EcoTransit) and Tom Zubryzcki (Leichhardt resident and film-maker) and ABC science broadcaster Bernie Hobbs MC.

Light refreshments provided.

Public transport not motorways!

The Greens on Marrickville Council successfully moved for Marrickville Council to oppose the WestConnex project, which will redirect billions of dollars away from public transport and cut through residential areas including St Peters, Petersham and Newtown. However the State Government has recently announced it plans to being work on the first leg of the road, as the community campaign builds to prevent the project. For more information see the Media Releases section of this website or contact Greens Councillor David Leary.

The Greens support investment in public transport not more roads and have released a comprehensive plan for Parramatta Rd. For more information visit the website of Greens MP for Balmain Jamie Parker – http://www.jamieparker.org.au/Get-on-board-light-rail/.

Greens plan for light rail to solve Parramatta Rd transport problems 2012

Greens plan for light rail to solve Parramatta Rd transport problems 2012

Local Greens Councillors worked with the community to force the former State Government to scrap it’s earlier plans for the extension of the M4. For more information see the No WestConnex Campaign Page.

Protection for historic Fatima Island

The Greens have welcomed this week’s Marrickville Council decision to fund urgent investigations into the work needed to protect Fatima Island, one of the last remaining islands in the Cooks River.

At its 3 December 2013 meeting the Council voted to allocate the $25,000 necessary to obtain a professional report about the current state of the island and to provide recommendations for appropriate remediation strategies.

The action was taken after the Greens put an urgent notice to the August Council meeting (see August 2013 post below), urging Council to take action to prevent the island from eroding away.  

Greens Councillor David Leary said, “There has been a huge groundswell of community support for Fatima Island, which helped sway some of the Labor and Liberal Councillors who had previously a expressed reluctance to fund or take responsibility for protecting Fatima Island.

“Protecting our precious green spaces, local biodiversity and heritage are important to our residents. This was evident from the many people who forwarded stories of their association with Fatima Island, going back as far as the 1950s.”

Some of this important heritage and environmental values of the island are detailed in the background to the Greens motion (below).

“The Greens look forward to receiving the report early next year, and hope that our fellow Councillors continue to stand with the community in voting to protect Fatima Island,” said Clr Leary.

For more information contact Clr Leary at dleary@marrickville.nsw.gov.au.

In the lead up to the meeting the following community groups expressed their support for the investment by Council in Fatima Island:

Cooks River Valley Association

Marrickville Heritage Society

Wolli Creek Preservation Society

The Mudcrabs (Cooks River Eco-Volunteers)

Saving Our Trees

Total Environment Centre

NSW Heritage Network

Botany Bay and Catchment Alliance

Friends of Tempe House

As well as numerous individuals including parishioners of Sts Peter & Paul Parish Tempe and members of the Cooks River Motor Boat Club.

A new FRIENDS OF FATIMA ISLAND email list has also been established by residents who are driving the campaign. To receive updates, please subscribe to: fatimaislandfriends@gmail.com 

Photo by John Veage, from St George Leader, at http://www.theleader.com.au/story/1608145/fatima-island-memories-of-little-surprises/
Photo by John Veage, from St George Leader, at http://www.theleader.com.au/story/1608145/fatima-island-memories-of-little-surprises/

Greens Notice of Motion for 20 August 2013 Marrickville Council Meeting

That Council:

  1. Urgently investigate the erosion of Fatima Island in the Cooks River;
  1. Undertake any urgent, necessary remedial works identified, in order to protect the island against further erosion pending the development of the Cooks River Plan of Management;
  1. Liaise and consult with relevant agencies and community groups to ensure that any urgent works are identified and undertaken appropriately, including the Cooks River Valley Association, Canterbury Council, Sydney Water, Metro Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Marrickville Heritage Society;
  1. Include in the investigations consideration of whether nearby work on the banks of the Cooks River and/ or people visiting the island are contributing to the erosion;
  1. Consider funding for any urgent works in the September budget revision; and
  1. Provide a report to Council of the investigations.


Urgent action is needed to protect Fatima Island, which has become seriously degraded in recent years.

Fatima Island is an important historical and environmental site in the Cooks River, near Kendrick Park, Tempe. It is a sanctuary to local birds such as pelicans, ibis, common silver gull, little pied cormorant, little black cormorant and the crested tern.

In recent years the island has been getting smaller, and the rock retaining wall along one side of the island has partially collapsed. At least two trees have been washed away, and the roots of the large remaining tree on the edge of the island are increasingly exposed and appear at risk of falling over.

Fatima Island is the only remaining island of several that existing prior to European invasion.

It is close to a significant midden site at Kendrick Park and, together with the two adjacent islands that were known to have existed circa 1880, was a place of early contact and relationships between the local Aboriginal Traditional Owners and non-Aboriginal communities.

In 1951 it became a place for a Catholic rosary pilgrimage, honouring a Portugese statue of Our Lady of Fatima. It was from the 1950s that it became known as Fatima Island. In recent years this name has provided a familiar reference point for Muslim community members.

Local organisations such as the Cooks River Valley Association and the Marrickville Heritage Society have been campaigning to protect Fatima Island.

In 2013 Marrickville Council committed to include Fatima Island in the Cooks River Parks Plan of Management.

However the current state of the island requires urgent action to prevent further damage to this important cultural and environmental site.

Greens move urgent action for residents on planning reforms

Marrickville Council this week voted in favour of an urgent Greens motion to inform residents about the State Government’s plans to radically overhaul planning laws.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said, “The State Government has released a White Paper and draft legislation which will radically change the way that developments are assessed. The changes would remove most existing rights for residents to be notified or have a say over development in their local area.

“The State Government has set a target that 80% of development is to be fast tracked or “code assessed” under the new system, meaning residents will not be notified of developments or have any real powers to object, even to high rise development,” said Clr Ellsmore.

“Environmental and heritage considerations are also being watered down, with a stronger emphasis on “economic development” and the interests of developers.

Clr Ellsmore said, “The proposals are being sold by the State Government as increasing community participation because they give residents a say at the early, high-level “strategic” stage.

“What is being lost is the right for residents to object or even be notified down the track, when a development application is put in. The State Government knows this is actually the stage when most residents want to get involved – when there is a specific development being considered for their street,” said Clr Ellsmore.

“These draft Planning Act Bills were released amidst a flurry of State Government White Papers last month, including information about proposed amalgamations, and residents have only a few weeks left to have a say,” said Clr Ellsmore.

“The Greens are concerned that the Liberal Government wants to implement these complex and wide reaching changes as soon as possible, before residents have a real chance to learn about the reforms and respond.

“The new laws have the potentially to radically change the face of our local areas. I am proud that Marrickville Council voted to adopt the Green’s motion for Council to undertake an urgent information program for residents,” she said.

The Greens are organising and supporting community groups to organise public forums, including at Redfern Town Hall on Monday 27 May 2013.

The ALP and Conservative Councils voted to remove the commitment for Marrickville Council to hold public forums on the planning changes, when the Greens Notice of Motion was passed. Neighbouring Councils such as the City of Sydney and Leichhardt have previously organised or voted to support public forums on the issue.

Media contact:            Greens Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

A copy of the Notice of Motion is below:

Notice of Motion – Urgent Consultation on Planning Reforms 

That Council:

  1. Notes that the State Government released the White Paper: A New Planning System for NSW on 16 April 2013, which will significantly overhaul planning laws and radically alter the process for development assessment;
  1. Notes that public submissions on the White Paper and two draft Bills close on 28 June 2013 and that the State Government’s Sydney information session for the public is already full;
  1. Urgently organises a public information forum for forums or local residents to provide an overview of the White Paper: A New Planning System for NSW and what it could mean for residents’ future input into planning decisions;
  1. Urgently develops and implements a public information strategy to inform residents about the proposed reforms and encourage them to make a submission; and
  1. Calls on the NSW Government to ensure there is at least 6 months of public consultation on the planning reform White Paper.


On 16 April, the NSW Government released the White Paper – A new planning system for NSW for public feedback (http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/a-new-planning-system-for-nsw).

The White Paper and Draft Exposure Bills would radically reshape planning laws. The proposed changes include:

  • 80% of all development in NSW assessed as ‘complying’ or ‘code assessment’ development with no community consultation and limited environmental assessment;
  • removal of key zoning to protect sensitive environment or heritage areas;
  • a presumption in favour of a right to develop and significantly increased appeal powers for developers;
  • substantial removal of the power of local Councils to oversee development;
  • substantial increase in powers for the NSW Minister for Planning to override Council plans which have been developed in consultation with the community; and
  • removal of the principle of Ecologically Sustainable Development from planning legislation – amongst others.

Overdevelopment and loss of heritage remains one of the top 5 issues of concern for local Marrickville Council residents.

When the Planning Green Paper was released in 2012 Marrickville Council raised urgent concerns about the direction of the reforms, particularly the removal of opportunity for meaningful community consultation. See a copy of Council’s submission to the NSW Government on the Green Paper, dated 25 September 2012, on the Council’s website.

Council also put a motion to the 2012 Local Government Association Conference:

(a) That the State Government ensures that the new Act genuinely achieves the stated objectives of the Green Paper and does not include mechanisms that enable the development industry to avoid proper planning assessment by councils via rezonings in subregional plans;

(b) That the new Act provides that individual Council’s determine the membership and terms of reference of any IHAP established to evaluate development applications in-lieu of elected Councillors;

(c) That the new Act does not diminish the level of community consultation that occurs as part of land use planning; and

(d) That the new Act does not facilitate the expansion of certification of development to merit based matters or in sensitive areas such as heritage conservation areas.

Marrickville Council’s submission, along with many similar concerns raised by other Local Council, have been ignored in the White Paper.

Marrickville Council has recently embarked on a major information and consultation program in relation to proposed reforms to Local Government, which were also released in April 2013.

The proposed planning reforms are just as significant – and are even more urgent, given that there is already draft legislation developed.

The changes are very complex and require easy to understand information needs to be developed so that residents understand what it could mean for them and their Council.

It is essential that Marrickville Council informs the community about these proposed reforms and facilitates residents having a real say on changes.

Public Forum on Planning Reforms – Redfern 27 May 2013

Join local residents and Greens at a public forum on Monday 27 May 2013 about plans to radically overhaul the State’s planning laws. Your current right to comment on DAs will be removed for 80% of developments including many high-rise. Come and hear about how these changes will affect and how to have your say!

Monday 27th May, 6:30pm

Redfern Town Hall, 73 Pitt St Redfern

Guest Speakers

  • Nature Conservation Council
  • Better Planning Network
  • David Shoebridge MLC, Greens planning spokesperson
  • Ron Hoenig MP, ALP Member for Heffron
  • Brad Hazzard, Planning Minister (invited)

This meeting follows a well-attended meeting on the Planning Green Paper last year and it aims to help people in the community get an early understanding of the issues raised by the White Paper and the Draft Legislation (they differ in some key respects).

Please spread the word of this forum as the new system proposes to take away key protections in the current planning act. This includes precautionary principles and residents rights to comment on Development Applications in up to 80% of developments. The new planning system proposes instead that the community will be involved in preparing the regional and local planning controls years in advance of developments and will no longer need to comment on most developments in their area because they had the opportunity to have their say in regional planning!

Promoting history in our streets

Marrickville Council will invest up to $70,000 installing 24 historical signs in the municipality after the Greens initiative gained unanimous support of Marrickville Council.

“The Greens are keen to take history out of the dusty old archives and onto the streets,” said Greens Councillor Max Phillips.

“The signs will include photos from past eras, so that viewers can appreciate the similarities and the enormous changes that have occurred over our history.

“Historical signs in public and significant places are a way of informing and connecting the public, whether they are residents or visitors, with the history of the area and a better sense of place.

“If over time a significant roll out of historical signs occurs, it has the potential to attract visitors from other areas to Marrickville as part of a historical trail, as well as provide local residents with an increased sense of history, place and civic pride,” he said.

“Marrickville has a fascinating and dynamic history and its important for residents, whether they are long-time or have just moved in, to appreciate our history and understand the sense of place.”

The signs will include images of the urban and natural history of the area, as well as Aboriginal history.

Contact: Cr Max Phillips 0419 444 916

Cooks River No Swimming Carnival a success

Greens Councillors joined with local residents this weekend at the ‘No Swimming Carnival’, to raise awareness of the ongoing campaign to make the Cooks River safe for swimming again.

The Cooks River is a significant landmark in the Marrickville Council area. Originally a natural river, which became an industrial sewer, the Cooks River has been tranformed in recent years through the coordinated efforts of local residents, environment groups, bush care, State agencies and the various Councils in the river’s catchment.

The rehabilitation of the Cooks River and its banks has been a priority for the Greens on Marrickville Council, who were successful in establishing the Cooks River Committee in 2006. Council’s support has included native plantings, wetlands, salt marshes, swales and permeable embankments, as well as investment in building/ upgrading the shared walkway along the river.

However there is still much work to be done. An ongoing concern is the continued flow of sewerage and stormwater into the river. Following active lobbying by residents and Council there has been significant investment achieved through Sydney Water and the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority, to improve wastewater systems and to complete the (re)naturalisation of the banks along the river.

The No Swimming Carnival organised by the Cooks River Valley Association on Sunday 24 February 2013 highlighted that much more needs to be done if the river is to become swimmable within the next 10 years. Water testing undertaken by the Association shows continued high levels of bacteria in the river. There are also high levels of rubbish (especially plastic bottles) and a stench from the river in certain stretches.


The Cooks River Valley Association released a postcard at the event which shows the Cooks River Valley Lifeguards – who operated from the 1930s. Some of the participants in Sunday’s event recalled swimming in the river up until the 1950s.

swimming postcard

The Greens share the aim of making the Cooks River swimmable again, and will continue to work with the community, other local Councils and State agencies to ensure proper investment to make this happen.

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