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Synthetic field: Northern Beaches Council to continue rollout amid calls for a pause

REAL OR FAKE?: Northern Beaches Council is continuing its rollout of synthetic fields amid calls for a pause. Picture: Shutterstock
REAL OR FAKE?: Northern Beaches Council is continuing its rollout of synthetic fields amid calls for a pause. Picture: Shutterstock

NORTH Manly resident and mum Julia Walsh has accused council of failing its environmental custodianship with its continued rollout of synthetic sportsfields.

Millers Reserve at Manly Vale is among seven greenspaces across the LGA that will be "upgraded" to a synthetic surface, with a $203,000 tender already awarded for the works.

Millers Reserve is located beside Manly Creek, which flows to Manly Dam, and Ms Walsh is concerned about run-off there.

The proposed upgrade led to 730 submissions from the community, with Ms Walsh among those against the change due to the possibility of damage to the environment.

Melwood Oval at Forestville already has a synthetic field and during heavy rains she witnessed "pulverised rubber" washing off and down pathways.

The impact of synthetic fields, by North Manly resident Julia Walsh.

"It's not just the plastics that you can see, it's the plastics you can't see," she said.

"The biggest concern is that we're putting these fields in water catchment zones."

During hot weather, "the fumes from the rubber just stank" at Melwood Oval and she said there's a "mountain of evidence" from overseas that synthetic fields are a significant source of pollution.

At their March meeting, councillors Stuart Sprott and Roslyn Harrison called for council to halt approvals of synthetic fields pending a NSW Government investigation into sustainable alternatives, which was called for by Planning Minister Rob Stokes. Their calls were not supported by other councillors.

WORRIED: North Manly resident Julia Walsh has concerns about the environmental and health impacts of synthetic fields as council continues its rollout. Picture: Geoff Jones

WORRIED: North Manly resident Julia Walsh has concerns about the environmental and health impacts of synthetic fields as council continues its rollout. Picture: Geoff Jones

"I just wanted to halt any further development of them until we hear back from the state government," Cr Sprott said. "If we have to rip them out it could cost millions of dollars to do that. I just want to tread a little cautiously."

Council declined to reveal how many of the 730 submissions were in support of synthetic upgrades and said a range of measures have been, and continue to be, put in place to mitigate run-off from fields, including stormwater filters, retaining walls, cuffs, vacuuming and sweeping.

While seven new synthetic ovals are planned, none will be scheduled until at least 2024-25.

Council CEO Ray Brownlee said council was "committed to protecting our environment and any proposed upgrade will be subject to rigorous environmental assessment and community consultation".

WORRIED: North Manly resident Julia Walsh has concerns about the environmental and health impacts of synthetic fields as council continues its rollout. Picture: Geoff Jones

WORRIED: North Manly resident Julia Walsh has concerns about the environmental and health impacts of synthetic fields as council continues its rollout. Picture: Geoff Jones

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