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Sydney Water set to vandalise Wolli Creek Regional Park

Sydney Water is planning to destroy a patch of urban bushland and a sandstone cliff previously earmarked as part of Wolli Creek Regional Park, Earlwood, to build a sewage odour control facility up to 14m high.

The land is the eastern gateway to the park and marks the start of a 4.5km nature walk through the largest remnant of Sydney sandstone vegetation left between Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay.

“It’s a totally unnecessary desecration,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

“The odour control unit could be built on another block of land nearby, which would avoid all the horrendous visual impacts of this proposal.”

Wolli Creek Regional Park was established on land previously reserved for the M5 motorway. It was protected as a nature and recreation reserve after decades of campaigning by the local community and the Wolli Creek Preservation Society.

“More than 300 hectares of precious urban bushland is lost every year in Sydney, [1] often for infrastructure like this odour control unit,” Mr Gambian said.

“We can’t go on like this forever or there will be nothing left. That means we can’t always take the easy option when planning critical infrastructure like this.”

While the block of bushland is relatively small – just 120sq/m – it occupies a very prominent place at the start of the 4.5km walking track that is used by thousands of people every year.

“The COVID-19 experience has shown us how precious and irreplaceable bushland and open space in our cities is,” Mr Gambian said.

“The government’s own National Parks and Wildlife Service’s promotes Wolli Creek Regional Park as a ‘precious pocket of bushland in Sydney’. [2]

“We accept that the OCU is a necessary piece of state Infrastructure, but there is an alternative site.”

NCC and the Wolli Creek Preservation Society are calling on Water Minister Melinda Pavey to direct Sydney Water to reconsider its plans and find an alternative with much less impact on an iconic nature reserve.

The groups have set up a petition that will be presented to the minister soon. 

REFERENCES

[1] See sheet two of the NSW Woody Vegetation Change 2017-18 spreadsheet, vegetation loss for the Greater Sydney Local Land Services Area over 10 years.

[2] NPWS website, Wolli Creek Regional Park, 2021.

 

BACKGROUND 

For a more detailed description of the proposal, its impacts and alternatives, visit the Wolli Creek Preservation Society webpage here.  

PETITION

To Water Minister Melinda Pavey

We, the undersigned, call on you to intervene on Sydney Water’s planned location for a sewage Odour Control Unit (OCU), a large, intrusive piece of industrial infrastructure, at the eastern gateway to the Wolli Creek valley and across the popular Two Valley Trail.

We value highly the Wolli valley, its bushland and its heritage. Our objection is not to the OCU itself but to the insensitive and unnecessary location of the unit when there are better alternatives.

Our urban bushland areas are where we walk, rest and play. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity of the 4.5km walking track through the Wolli Creek valley has soared to 250 per cent of its pre-COVID level.

Residents of the surrounding suburbs and Greater Sydney have flocked to quality local recreation and environmental experiences.

Sydney Water’s proposal locates the OCU at the entry to the Two Valley Trail, cutting into a natural sandstone cliff-face and destroying bushland.

It will also be an ugly intrusion too close to a state heritage-listed aqueduct.

This plan will ruin forever the striking entry point to the visitor’s experience of this unique place and seriously damage Sydney Water‘s reputation for environmentally sensitive works.

Minister, it does not have to be this way. There is a suitable alternative site nearby.

Sydney Water and the NSW Government can adopt the alternative, abandon a plan that would severely mar the start of the Two Valley Trail and the nearby heritage aqueduct, keep the bush that the local community has advocated to protect for 30 years, and complete the Wolli Creek Regional Park, promised 20 years ago.

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