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Residents across Sydney are fighting with local councils over the use of fake grass in public places, as Planning Minister Rob Stokes initiated an investigation into the use of synthetic surfaces.
A resident group has taken the Bayside Commission to court over the installation of artificial turf in Gardiner Park in Banksia. After strong community opposition, the City of Sydney is "re-examining" the plan to build artificial turf in Turruwul Park in Rosebery.
Grassroots community groups have also sprung up in other parts of Sydney to fight parliaments that plan to install artificial turf.
Despite opposition from some residents, synthetic turf will still be installed in Gardiner Park in Banksia. Credit: Walter Peters
The Chief Scientist and Engineer of New South Wales will review the use of synthetic surfaces in sports fields and public open spaces after a study on the use of synthetic alternatives to natural turf in public open spaces is released.
"In recent years, synthetic turf has become more and more popular on sports fields," Mr. Stokes said. "But there are major concerns about its use within the community, and the council needs consistent guidelines to address the pros and cons."
Garnet Brownbill, spokesperson for the Natural Turf Alliance, said that fake grass poses a threat to health and the environment and should be used with caution. He said that Synthetic Field is too hot in summer to be used and will produce plastic pollution.
"In Sydney, the growing conditions for turf are very good, and we know that a well-structured turf field-not just any turf field-can increase the community's use of football and still allow passive recreation without disrupting the synthesis. The environment of the venue," he said.
Mr. Brownbill said that the sports facilities at Gardiner Park need to be upgraded, but the synthetic turf will benefit the football club disproportionately.
“Park users and residents seeking natural green space have been able to enjoy the cool, natural environment, but they will now be affected by synthetic turf, through toxic exhaust gas, odors, high fences, and heat emitted by synthetic sites, especially in summer,” he Say.
A spokesperson for the Bayside City Council said that the installation of artificial turf in the park is part of a state government's $2.5 million upgrade plan to improve infrastructure. Seven parks in the council area have been installed with synthetic surfaces.
The spokeswoman said that the report clearly documented the challenges faced by parliament in meeting the growing demand for sports venues.
She said the committee is looking forward to new guidelines, but the planning system already has multiple ways to consider the environmental impact of synthetic surfaces.
According to Greg Storey of the Eastern Suburbs Football Association, synthetic turf provides more than three times the playing capacity of natural turf and prevents the “spread of active parks to passive parks”.
"We don't think that every oil field in New South Wales should be converted to a synthetic oil field," he said. "Synthetic turf is only part of the solution to ensure that more people can participate in sports more frequently."
Rosebery's Turruwul Park was designated by the City of Sydney as a composite venue in 2019 to meet the growing demand for sports venues in the city center.
A spokeswoman for the City of Sydney said that synthetic turf sports grounds are less affected by wet weather and can accommodate more wear and tear, "thus making the year-round play time longer"-opponents of synthetic turf commented on this statement Raise objections.
But after some residents objected, the city council is reconsidering its plan. They worry that the composite site will change the character of the park and reduce the space for dog walking, children's games and picnics.
The City of Sydney recently installed a synthetic oil field in Gunyama Park in Zetland, and will build three more oil fields in Alexandria and Annandale by 2023.
"We have taken a number of measures to mitigate the environmental impact of synthetic turf, including the risk of microplastics migrating from the surface of the site to the surrounding soil and rainwater system," the committee spokesperson said.
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