Advocacy Campaigns

Open Letter to Matt Kean

Dear Matt,

I would have like to have spoken to you personally but somehow my emails for meeting requests go unanswered.  I get it, you are a busy man but during this workshop your influence loomed large.

As a participant in the recent Westleigh Park Co-design Mountain Bike Trails Workshop I would like to share my experience. 15 people were involved with approximately half representing the mountain biking community and the other half representing the environmental side including groups such as the Westleigh Progress Association, Friends of Berowra Valley, STEP, ANPS (Australian Native Plant Society) and others.

Each side have their own ideology and it is this ideology that feeds their position.

Mountain Bikers

  • Love the bush
  • Love riding
  • Find it therapeutic
  • It is a great exercise
  • Introduces their kids to the bush
  • Elements of the track that are important include, shade, trees and shrubs, topography, locality.
  • Need tracks that have a direction and a track head to avoid collisions.

Environment Participants

  • Want to protect EEC(Endangered Ecological Communities) and CEEC(Critically Endangered Ecological Communities)
  • Want to protect the whole ecosystem, trees, shrubs and groundcovers and all of the animals that rely in these as habitat
  • What to see the bushland handed down to future generations intact
  • Want to be able to walk through the area at a slow and gentle pace. (While walking the tracks it became clear that once the area is designated as a track, this will not be possible. You will be in the way.)

I have no problem with the mountain biker’s ideology, in fact I applaud each and every element.  I am almost certain that the mountain bikers would have no problem with the elements of our ideology.

So why are we being pitted against each other?

During the workshop it became clear through the many presentations of the professional track designer that he can create tracks that meet the needs of mountain bikers anywhere. Give him a blank canvas and he can create a masterpiece.

It is an easy fix to the demand of more mountain bike tracks to destroy more of our bushland.  But Matt, you said that you cared for our environment and you want to protect our wildlife and their habitat. Stop wasting public money on pointless consultations and find a genuine sustainable solution that we can all be proud of.

Yours sincerely

Karen Benhar

President Friends of Berowra Valley

Advocacy Campaigns

Westleigh Park Bushland Furore

We need to protect our remaining bushland in Sydney before it is lost to future generations. The area surrounding Westleigh Park has been home to 694 plant species, 14 mammal species, 134 bird species, 14 reptile species and 8 amphibian species according to the Atlas of Living Australia.

Hornsby Shire Council has created a draft master plan to develop Westleigh Park. Overall the area to be developed includes 36ha of land with 10ha already cleared. Most of the cleared area will be redeveloped into 2 sporting fields (1 likely to be synthetic) and 1 athletics field.

Advocacy Campaigns

Westleigh Park Mountain Bike Madness Continues

The Hornsby Shire Council are running an oxymoron consultation.  The purpose of the consultation is to co-design a mountain bike trail network while protecting the high value biodiversity at Westleigh Park.  We have gone to great lengths to point out that mountain bike trails destroy bushland.

To be clear we are not talking about shared tracks that allow for bikers and walkers to co-exist. We are talking about tracks that cannot have walkers as they would be in the way.  They are to be purely designed for mountain bikes to rip up the soil, destroy vegetation and ensure native animals cannot exist in this landscape.

To make matters worse the area in question contains Critically Endangered Ecological Communities and Endangered Ecological Communities.  These areas are protected under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 which declares that a person who damages declared areas of outstanding biodiversity value is guilty of an offence with the penalty being monetary penalty or imprisonment.

We have attended a workshop, webinar and sent a letter to Mayor and Councillors and have been ignored. The next stage of the consultation is now open and they are calling for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to take part in a series of co-design workshops in June.  To express interest in participating in the co-design process please complete the form on the Westleigh Park web page.

The EOI process opens today, Tuesday 26 April, and will close in two weeks at 5pm Tuesday 10 May. Selected participants will be notified by Friday 20 May.

Participants are required to be available to attend all the sessions as the activities are progressive.

The sessions will be held:

  • Sunday 5 June on site at Westleigh Park from 10am – 4pm (in the event of rain, workshop will be postponed to Sunday 12 June).
  • Tuesday 21 June at Pennant Hills Bowling Club, 5.30 – 9pm
  • Thursday 23 June Hornsby RSL (TBC) 5.30 – 9pm

The workshops are designed to include approximately 20-30 participants who will serve as representatives of the various stakeholders, groups and communities interested in this project.


Now or Never – Protect Powerful Owl Habitat Before it’s Too Late

There are those moments in time when you can do something truly remarkable for a vulnerable species. Or you can turn away and lose yet another native species to the area.

Here we have a remarkable property which contains perfect habitat for Powerful Owls and in fact has resident owls and a development which ticks all of the boxes and is even going to preserve a part of the site, but the likely outcome will be another loss of prime Powerful Owl habitat.