Advocacy Campaigns Westleigh Park

Westleigh Park – A Fresh Start

Hornsby Shire Council has lost funding for this hugely contentious project. According to the ABC News Article “The state government has knocked back the council’s request for an extension of time to spend the money, because they were not able to demonstrate that the project was on track. 

The Minister for Local Government Ron Hoenig said “Hornsby Council has had years to utilise this funding and the original deadline written into grant guidelines has long passed.”

It is sad that Westleigh has lost this money but this project was deeply flawed. Mayor Ruddock was aggrieved that the Council had lost Epping as part of the Council Amalgamations but not received Ku-ring-gai as the Ku-ring-gai Council decided to fight the forced amalgamation through the courts.  The Council were told by the State Government to apply for the money and within days $90M was placed in their bank account, $40M for Westleigh Park and $50M for Hornsby Park.

Matt Kean’s vision was a regional sporting centre in Westleigh and everyone in Council fell into line. However community groups objected that the scale of the project was not appropriate given the site constraints which included:

  • Traffic bottlenecks.
  • Critically Endangered Forests, the Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest and Blue Gum High Forest.
  • Close proximity to a National Park and bushfire prone land.
  • Risk to critical infrastructure – a reservoir supplying the area’s drinking water.
  • Significant asbestos and soil contamination including PFAS.

A Fresh Vision

Friends of Berowra Valley have fought this project on the principle that mountain bike tracks cannot be allowed in a Critically Endangered Ecological Community. This is the highest level of threat before extinction. A huge amount of scientific research has gone into determining the composition of ecological communities and to ignore this is, we believe, irresponsible. We have yet to fully comprehend the complex nature of ecological communities and the plants and animals they support. Without protection they are slowly and systematically being degraded. Mountain bikers have been allowed to enter and destroy this environment. Sydney Water knew that the area had significant asbestos and PFAS contamination and warned the community to keep out. The mountain bikers ignored the warnings and moved in. They are not only undermining what could again be a treasure at state and national level they are also putting their own health at risk until the contamination is properly dealt with.

The funding that remains is the interest that was earned on the original $40M.

Friends of Berowra Valley ask Council to give the project a fresh start with priority given to:

  • Properly remediating all of the toxic soil and asbestos contamination now.
  • Put the mountain bike tracks on the cleared area.
  • Create water sensitive urban design where the rain soaks into the landscape. Impervious services such as artificial turf and hard roads direct huge torrents of water into the creek lines and are already flooding housing at the lower end of the catchment. This will only get worse with more intense development and climate change.
  • Protect the Aboriginal cultural heritage – don’t cut down the Aboriginal scar tree and move mountain bike tracks away from the rock shelter.
  • Keep walking tracks in the forested areas instead of preventing walkers from using all but 170m of walking trail, when mountain bike trails were to be 7km.The endangered forest and threatened species shouldn’t only be available to mountain bikers speeding by.
  • Avoid any impact to the Dog Pound Creek biobanking site – increased traffic along the riverine areas is a threat to Powerful Owls who use the area for nesting and roosting.
  • Save the forest for those that want to enjoy one of the most amazing plant communities left in Sydney.
  • Save the forest for the wildlife that it supports.
  • Save the forest for those who want to tread lightly on the earth.

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