Those of you living nearby will have been disturbed over recent months by the numbers of heavy trucks entering the Park, loaded up with material removed for the widening of the M2 and delivering many thousand tonnes of fill to substantially raise the footprint and level of Oval no3. Funding for the reconstruction is being provided via the Hunter’s Hill Rugby Club which is apparently also controlling the works and has not been required to submit a development application. No consent has been given as Hunter’s Hill Council considers the works fall under ‘Division 12 – Parks and other public reserves Clause 66 Exempt development of SEPP (Infrastructure) 2007’. However, under the Act for Exempt Development, works need to be “carried out by or on behalf of a public authority” which would not include the Rugby Club.
We have questioned whether due process in the planning phase has occurred with the required assessment of environmental impacts, given that Boronia Park is Heritage listed Crown Land and contains sensitive bushland with endangered ecological communities and species protected under both Commonwealth and State legislation. It also provides a significant habitat corridor and has received valuable restoration work by both volunteers and contractors over many years.
Heavy rains over summer have resulted in failures of the sedimentation fence and significant discharge of the imported fill into good bushland, along the Great North Walk and into the street below with drainage to the Lane Cove river and the harbour (see photos
from Alister Sharp, 21.1.12). The project has many months to go yet and the Society has urged Council to ensure that ecological impacts will be effectively managed and controlled for the duration of the works and beyond.
With this major reconstruction, not identified in the Plan of Management (2002) which was the subject of extensive prior consultation, yet again a Plan has been over-ridden to favour special interests. It seems those with available funds to spend can have greater access to
our public lands, and with the plans for a Club building – to be built by the Rugby Club where a general use Community Hall was proposed – still under wraps, it is hard to have much confidence that this trend will not continue without considerable local resistance. In the meantime, Riverglade reserve at Tarban Creek is now undergoing a review of its Plan of Management by Hunter’s Hill Council following protests over conflicting uses of the open space due to a massive increase in provision of soccer fields across the off-leash dog area – again, a management action not indicated in the existing Plan.