The planting of this strip under the rail line along Victoria Road was a great initiative by Marrickville Council. They only did it a year ago & with some hand watering, look at it now. It used to be filled with weeds & litter. Now it is a corridoor for lizards.

The planting of this strip under the rail line along Victoria Road was a great initiative by Marrickville Council.  They only did it a year ago & with some hand watering, look at it now.  It used to be filled with weeds & litter. Now it is a corridoor for lizards.

A shocking article in The Guardian today of research findings by scientists from the World Wildlife Fund & the Zoological Society of London called the ‘Living Planet Report,’ which found that 50% of wild animals on this Earth have been lost in the past 40-years – that’s since 1974.  

The cause of such astronomical loss has been unsustainable hunting for food, habitat destruction & pollution.

A graph shows that 37% loss was caused by exploitation of wildlife, 31% habitat degradation & change, 13% habitat loss with 7% only for climate change. The remaining 11% came under the heading of ‘other.’

With development charging ahead, an ever-increasing human population & climate change starting to bite, these numbers will be increasing dramatically & soon, unless we make specific choices to act to prevent any further loss & take immediate & meaningful action to support the remaining wildlife. Obviously retaining & protecting forests is of paramount importance, but so is increasing the areas of real habitat to support biodiversity in urban areas.

“Currently, the global population is cutting down trees faster than they regrow, catching fish faster than the oceans can restock, pumping water from rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them and emitting more climate-warming carbon dioxide than oceans and forests can absorb. ….today’s average global rate of consumption would need 1.5 planet Earths to sustain it. But four planets would be required to sustain US levels of consumption, or 2.5 Earths to match UK consumption levels.”

Australia was rated number 13 in the Top 20 Countries with the Biggest Ecological Footprint.  Kuwait Number was number 1, the US was number 8 & the UK number 20.

Rivers were the hardest hit with animal numbers plummeting by 75% since 1970. Just one more reason why we need to do whatever we can to restore & protect our own Cooks River.

Land animals have fallen by 40% since 1970 & marine animals also fallen by 40%. “But the big declines in wildlife in rich nations had already occurred long before the new report’s baseline year of 1970 – the last wolf in the UK was shot in 1680.” You can read the article herehttp://bit.ly/1vrStsU

We can all take responsibility & make choices to do what we can to prevent further species loss. The following are some of the more obvious, but if we all did these, the impact would be profound & it would help our planet & the species that live here with us.

  • Buy local food in season, even if it costs a few cents more. Grow food if you can.
  • Buy or make your own reusable shopping bags. Marrickville Metro has a sign in the car park that says they go through 2,600 disposable plastic bags per week & this is just one shopping mall.
  • Choose to buy products that have less packaging.
  • Buy free-range eggs.
  • Reuse & recycle as much as you can.
  • Make you own compost, as this diverts an enormous amount of organic waste from going to landfill.
  • Don’t buy products that contain palm oil because these mono forests are causing massive loss to species dependent on forests, such as the orangutans, elephants, tigers, rhinos & birds.
  • Buy sustainably resourced timber & don’t support those companies that log old growth forests.
  • Plant something native in our garden & start up a verge garden if you can. Every bit of space we green up supports wildlife, even if it is only insects & reptiles.
  • Don’t plant invasive species & never dump unwanted plants in or near bush land.
  • Do not disturb logs & bush rocks, as these may be homes for wildlife.
  • Don’t pick wildflowers, take away plants or vandalise trees.
  • Desex your dogs & cats & keep your cats on your property & inside at night.
  • Attach as reflector on your cat’s collar to alert birds & other smaller animals of their presence.
  • Don’t dump pets or dispose of unwanted fish in the river or the toilet.
  • Do not remove river oysters or dig for crabs in the Cooks River. You can buy bait cheaply at fishing shops.
  • Don’t keep small fish caught in the river. Put them back to allow them to grow to adulthood.
  • Take home all fishing line & string that can cause entanglements to birds & other creatures.
  • Take home all rubbish & leave the environment as clean as you can.
Grey Butcherbird.  The more we green our environment, the more we support greater biodiversity.

Grey Butcherbird. The more we green our environment, the more we support greater biodiversity.

Anti-litter sign at Cooks Park at Dolls Point.  These were at every entrance, in the car park & also on many sides of the toilet blocks & other buildings.  There was onky three pieces of litter in the park & this was at the end of a sunny day.

A wonderful anti-litter sign at Cooks Park at Dolls Point. 

It is really nice to see this area looking cared for.

It is really nice to see this area looking cared for.

Many thanks to Marrickville Council for repairing the sandstone wall next to the railway bridge over the Cooks River between Kendrick Park & Tempe Railway Station.   It looks terrific now.

Looking towards Tempe Railway Station

Looking towards Tempe Railway Station. Many of the blocks had been removed, so it is great to see the wall looking like it should.

The beach at Oatley Park is a gorgeous place.

The beach at Oatley Park is a gorgeous place.

There are many spectacular Angophoras like this one.

The bush is filled with many spectacular Angophoras like this one.

One of the many lovely views of the river.  This one looks down to the beach.

One of the many lovely views of the river. This one looks down to the beach.

Last week friends took me to Oatley Park for a “tree experience.”   My first question was, “Where is Oatley?” For those of you who haven’t been to Oatley Park, I highly recommend visiting, as it is absolutely glorious & this is not an exaggeration.

Set on a promontory that goes down to Jew Fish Bay  & Lime Kiln Bay in the Georges River, Oatley Park is one of the jewels of Sydney.

Originally called Peakhurst Park, it was established in 1888. In 1908 Hurstville Council became the trustees & have managed the park since. They are certainly doing an excellent job.

Oatley Park is a massive 45-hectares of natural bushland, so there is plenty to see. There is a road for cars & a road surface cycle loop. There were many cyclists braving the hill while I was there & I was told it is very popular for cyclists.

Near one of the car parks is a stone castle, which I understand was built during the depression. The council hires this out for weddings & other functions.

The beach itself is breathtaking. The bush filled with large trees, many of them spectacular Angophoras, reaches right down to the white sandy beach & a shark net totally encloses Jew Fish Bay.  I am told bull sharks frequent the Georges River, so the net allows for safe swimming. There is a pier for fishing or sitting & a small barbeque area.   The trees provide afternoon shade on the beach, which I am sure is a major attraction.

Walking track in Oatley Park.  The Council has left it as natural as possible.

Walking track in Oatley Park. The Council has left it as natural as possible, which is great.

There are also many walking tracks that take you in all sorts of directions & which give exceptional water views through the trees. The land also has large outcrops of sandstone that add to the remarkable beauty of the place.   Everywhere you look you see phenomenally beautiful trees – giants compared to what we are used to in Marrickville LGA.

Many of the trees have hollows & dead wood is left on the ground or left standing insitu. This park is left in a natural state & it is easy to imagine how it would have looked prior to white settlement.  There is significant Aboriginal history with rock carvings somewhere in the park.

We came across many native shrubs & plants in flower. These were delicate little flowers that are almost lost to the eye unless one is observant.  We found ourselves clustered around various plants on the track commenting on the beauty of these flowers.

Parking would be at a premium in the warmer months. Although the issue of parking could be seen as a hassle, I like that car parks have not taken up much of the area.  There is only the bitumen of the roads, no kerb & guttering, very few signs & the place looks as natural as possible.

Another walking track

Another walking track

What astounded me was that despite the car parks being full, indicating that lots of people were in Oatley Park, there was absolutely no litter to be seen. The beach was spotless, as was the road to the beach. The barbeque area was also litter-free & so were the two bush tracks we walked.  There was no litter in the river either.

The only piece of litter I saw was a tissue in a bird’s nest.  There was no graffiti or tagging either & trees were left without carving or the marks of humans. It was very refreshing to notice this & to me, shows the respect given to this precious area by the community who use it.

Driving through Oatley we all commented that the parks & streets were also free of litter & graffiti. Graffiti appeals to many, including me on occasions, but when it is not visible in an area, there is a sense of cleanliness & peacefulness. This is something I have not seen in Sydney for many years.

I would highly recommend visiting Oatley Park. There are no shops in the park, so you will need to take your own food & water.  It is a perfect place for children as there is so much for them to explore on the beach.  Also, being flat, the water is safe.  My friends said that a smile never left my face & this did not surprise me.  I loved the place & give Oatley Park a 110 per cent rating.  Hurstville Council should be really proud of their work here.

Address – 1 Dame Mary Gilmore Drive Oatley – only 18kms from Sydney’s CBD.

Sandstone is a major feature of the land here.

Sandstone is a major feature of the land here.

A selection of the wildflowers we saw on our bush walk.

A selection of the wildflowers we saw on our bush walk.

Wattle is in flower at the Marrickville Bush Pocket on Victoria Road.

Wattle is in flower at the bush pocket on Victoria Road.

At last night’s Council Meeting Clr Mark Gardiner & Clr Sylvie Ellsmore put themselves up for the position of Mayor. Clr Gardiner was voted in as Mayor. The votes were as follows –

For: Clrs Haylen (Lab), Woods (Lab), Iskandar (Lab), Macri (Ind), Gardiner (Ind), Hanna (Ind) & Tyler (Lib). Against: Clrs Ellsmore (Greens)- Phillips (Greens), Leary (Greens), Brooks (Greens) & Ellsmore (Greens).

Clr Gardiner was elected as a Liberal candidate, along with Clr Tyler.   Clr Gardiner is now an Independent Councillor.

Clr Morris Hanna & Clr Sylvie Ellsmore put themselves up for the position of Deputy Mayor. The vote was the same as the position of Mayor with Clr Hanna being voted Deputy Mayor.

For the positions of the Committee Chair & Deputy Chair the voting was the same as above.

Congratulations to Mayor Gardiner & Deputy Mayor Hanna.

The photo does not show how tall this tree is.  Its death is a significant loss to the area.

The photo does not show how tall this tree is. Its death is a significant loss to the area.

It has been very sad to watch this Eucalypt in Tempe Bus Depot next to Gannon Street die over the last 3-4 months. Even the rain we received was not enough to help it recover.

To their credit Tempe Bus Depot went to a fair bit of trouble to keep this tree when they refurbished the depot in 2010. They retained a parcel of soil around the tree & it appeared quite happy until recently.

Not only is it sad to lose such a large tree, but also it is one of the few large trees in this area & stood like a lone sentinel. It was also popular with the birds. I hope they decide to plant a new tree.

Showing the land around the tree that was retained when the depot was excavated.

Showing the land around the tree that was retained when the depot was excavated.

Starpath

Starpath

Gosford Council has installed Australia’s first glow in the dark footpath.  The footpath travels 400-metres along bushland & under the railway line between Brooks Avenue & Manns Road Wyoming.

I first wrote about glowing footpaths as a way to light up footpaths at night in October 2013. See – http://bit.ly/1AWYgHw It is great to see this technology come to Australia.

A mix of aggregate & phosphorous zinc sulfide absorbs ultraviolet light during the day & emits a soft light after dusk for between 8-14 hours. I think this is a terrific way to increase safety for pedestrians & cyclists, while at the same time reducing the mammoth electricity bills Councils (rate-payers) pay to light parks. I think it is also non-obtrusive for wildlife as well. http://bit.ly/1r9CMVn  Well done Gosford Council.

My husband made this box out of a 40-year-old Ironbark fence post - a bit of Marrickville's history that still lives on.

My husband made this box using a 40-year-old Ironbark fence post – a bit of Marrickville’s history that still lives on.

Planet Ark has a campaign called, “Make It Wood – Do Your World Some Good,’ which aims at encouraging people to use responsibly sourced wood when building or making things.

Trees absorb & store carbon dioxide (CO2) while they are alive. After it is harvested timber continues to store much of this carbon, therefore, using responsibly sourced timber &/or recycled timber is a way to do your bit for preventing climate change.

It is important to buy responsibly harvested timber because some timbers are logged illegally from forests or from endangered tree species such as Rosewood that is almost extinct in Madagascar.   To find new timber that is responsibly harvested look for those endorsed by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), the Australian Forest Certification Scheme (AFCS) or the Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Recycled timber can be bought in many recycled timber yards or even found dumped in the street. We found a lot of 100-year-old American redwood, Blackbutt & Douglas Fir when we were renovating.

The American Forestry Foundation says, Wood is better for the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, air & water pollution, & other impacts.  Steel & concrete consume 12% & 20% more energy, emit 15% & 29% more greenhouse gases & release 10% & 12% more pollutants into the air, & generate 300% & 225% more water pollutants than wood.”

To highlight Planet Ark’s campaign to choose responsibly sourced or recycled wood, they are holding a photography competition called, ‘Snap Some Wood.’

There are three categories –

  1. Renovation – includes do-it-yourself or professional renovation projects with a high use of wood like floorboards, stairs, kitchen or bathroom or window frames.
  1. Structures – includes photos of houses, frames, commercial or public buildings, sheds, piers or wharves or fencing.
  1. Miscellaneous – includes furniture, art, sculpture, unusual items, toys etc.

Your photographs must be taken in Australia. Photos of trees & forests are not eligible. There is no limit on the number of different photos that one person may enter.

Entries will be judged on their quality, beauty & uniqueness. Planet Ark says that they are particularly interested in photos that portray people’s relationships with wood.   The prizes are four ipads with wooden covers worth over $2,750 each.

The deadline for entries is midnight AEST on Wednesday 5th November 2014.

Entries can be uploaded via Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/MakeItWoodPlanetArk/app_254553244581393

 

 

Reflection in shop window

Reflection in shop window

In my post Report from the Gallery for 12th August 2014 one resident spoke about concerns regarding Marrickville Council’s apparent practice of disclosing to DA proponents the identifying particulars of people who make submissions on DAs.

The following is an excerpt of that resident’s speech to the Councillors at the Development Assessment Committee Meeting –

“Allowing access to identifiers creates a chilling effect on the community.  It creates a fear that personal information will be available to every developer. You get fewer submissions.   It is not for developers to be checking whether a submission is genuine & who made it.  This is Council’s function.  Identifiers do not improve a proponent’s capacity to respond to any community comments. People said to me this is not right.  I don’t want developers to know who I am, where I live, what my contacts are.  This is for Council to know.”    You can read the full speech here – http://bit.ly/1kADcV1

The following is a Guest Post by the same resident in response to the Question on Notice by Clr Phillips – Item 19: Consultation Practices & Personal Privacy for Residents & Persons Making Submissions in Relations to Development Applications that is on the agenda for this Tuesday’s Council Meeting of the 16th September 2014.

_____________________

Guest post by Resident 3

I had a concern about how much Council may disclose to a developer who may just ask to view/copy submissions. This came up because Council’s advertisement said:

“It should be noted that comments received will not be treated confidentially and may be viewed by the applicant.”  In my conversations with Council I was told that the developer would need to view the submissions at Council.

Similarly, Marrickville Council’s Publication Guide January 2014 at page 20 says:

“Council considers, on balance, the public interest in protecting the personal information of submitters, overrides the public interest in web-publication of submissions. However, Council will make submissions available for viewing at Council offices on Informal Access Application.”

These suggest that Council does not allow exceptions: names, addresses, contact details are up for disclosure to developers when developers might just go to Council’s offices and want access to submissions when no-one else knows they are doing so.  The issue was not about what documents Marrickville Council may post on its website.

When I called Marrickville Council on three occasions in May 2014 regarding my privacy rights for a submission re a DA, Council staff gave me inconsistent advice about Council’s disclosure practices.

At the Development Assessment Committee Meeting of 12th August 2014 a motion was passed for Council to prepare a report as to how it complies with the law and how it compares with other Councils.

If I asked an electrician what is the law about the thickness of wires for lights and power-points in my house, the answer will be only one: 1.5 mm for lights and 2.5 mm for power-points. If I asked a plumber for the size of the sewerage pipes at my home, the answer will by only one: 100 mm. This is because the professionals respect their clients’ rights to well-being and know the standards applicable in their profession. This does not seem to apply in various Councils when it comes to the community’s right to privacy.

Marrickville Council now published its report. This report does not refer to the advertisement I mention above.  It refers to pro-forma letters Marrickville Council uses and an advice sheet that says something different, namely that there are exceptions –

Your name will always be disclosed to developers, but if you do a statutory declaration to MC that yours and your family’s safety would be at risk, Marrickville Council will not disclose your address and contact details.  I was not told this when I spoke to Council staff on three occasions. I also did not receive a pro-forma letter, only the advertisement.

The report attaches and refers to the Information Commissioner’s Guidelines titled “Guideline 2: Development Applications – For local councils – Personal information contained in development applications: What should not be put on council websites.”  As I said above, the issue was not about what goes on Marrickville Council’s website, but about what Marrickville Council would show to a developer when asked directly.

The Guideline says: “ … the Guidelines deal only with personal information and only with the publication of the information on council websites. The Guidelines do not deal with or affect disclosure of personal information by other means.”  So why is Council referring to this as their guide?

Marrickville Council’s report quotes three paragraphs from the Guideline, but not from the next paragraph that says disclosure of DA related information contributes to transparent decision-making. And then says: “However, documents associated with DAs are likely to contain a significant amount of personal information. Local Councils are accordingly required to balance the disclosure requirements of the GIPA Act and the privacy provisions of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act…”

Marrickville Council’s report does not say how they would do this balancing when a developer goes in and asks to view/copy submissions from the community. The pro-forma letters seem to say your name will always be disclosed.  Only your address will be concealed and only if you satisfy MC about your safety.

But your fundamental right of privacy does not need protection only when you prove with evidence that safety is the issue.  It is there to protect you for a lot more reasons.  You give your Council your identifying particulars to enable your Council to check if you are real.  You have the right to claim anonymity from developers. Disclosing your identity to developers does not enhance Council’s transparency of DA processes. Such disclosure does more harm than good. Knowing that developers will be able to identify you discourages people from making submissions.

Marrickville Council’s report researched the practices of many other Sydney Councils.  The researcher quickly found huge inconsistencies, which the report described as “variability.”  It seems that the answer to the Question on Notice is: confusion and inconsistency.

Also the Question on Notice asked about compliance with the law. Marrickville Council’s report says nothing about whether the practices it describes actually comply with the law.  It just describes them, reveals the inconsistencies and relies on a Guideline that says people should not rely on it for the kind of situation that gave rise to this discussion.

It seems that the community cannot rely on how Marrickville Council (and some other Councils) interpret their privacy obligations.  As a minimum they are inconsistent.  Many practices are plainly contrary to the law because they don’t do the balancing of rights that the legislation requires.

And here is what seems to be the biggest problem with Marrickville Council’s practices:  The General Manager is set to decide what identifying information will be revealed to developers for the asking.  This is called under the GIPA Act an “informal disclosure.”  The person who would not want their identifying information revealed will have no appeal rights.  The General Manager will be judge and jury. Quite a dictatorial power. And your privacy just gets tossed out the window.

The only decent way to deal with developers asking for access to submissions is to require them to make a formal application under the GIPA Act.  This way those who may wish developers not get their identifying information can object and have appeal rights to the Tribunal.  It seems, in the confusion that reigns among Councils, only the Tribunal can be trusted to know the law and how to apply it in every case.  Councils’ practices should not be designed to deny the community this valuable right.

I literally gasped at the beauty when I first saw Williams Parade in Dulwich Hill.   It's also full of bird song, which adds to the whole wonderful streetscape.

I literally gasped at the beauty when I first saw Williams Parade in Dulwich Hill. It’s also full of bird song, which adds to the whole wonderful streetscape.

Warren Road Marrickville has looked like this for at least 5-years.

Warren Road Marrickville has looked like this for at least 5-years.

Once again inequity of the urban environment has been shown to impact the health of the community, this time pregnant woman & newborn babies.

New research published in ‘Environmental Health Perspectives’ by researchers from Oregon State University USA, the University of British Columbia Canada & Utrecht University in The Netherlands has shown that that a leafy environment in urban areas has an impact on birth weight & full-term gestation of human babies.

Live in a green leafy area & it is more likely that there will be fewer premature births & babies will be born with a higher birth weight. The opposite is true for pregnant women who live in areas with less greenery & less green space.

“The findings held even when factors such as socioeconomic status, walkability, & exposure to air pollution & noise were controlled for…” http://bit.ly/1pUW7pl

The researchers think that reduced stress levels & depression, plus the ability to connect with others while out in green spaces are factors.

Mental health & connectivity have been the subject of recent research that clearly shows that street trees, leafy parks & green spaces all help raise the mental, physical & spiritual health of the community.  In contrast, areas with few trees, & I would include good-looking trees, & few green spaces increases the incidence & duration of depressive illness.

Not only does Marrickville municipality have the least green space in Australia, but in 2010, Marrickville was found to be the unhappiest suburb in Australia according to the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index conducted by Deakin University. Add to this the incredible increase in traffic in some parts of the municipality & I think street trees & green leafy parks are once again showing their importance to public health.

The more street trees, green walls, verge gardens & leafy parks we can have, the better off the health of our community will be. I also think that new high-rise housing developments should include green space. Now it has been shown that trees & green space play a vital part in the start of life.

You can read the research in here – http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1308049/

Google map of Kendrick Park.

Google map of Kendrick Park.

Clr Leary has asked a Question on Notice regarding the location of WestConnex drilling sites across Marrickville municipality.  The following sites are included in the papers for next Tuesday’s Council Meeting of the 16th September 2014.

Apparently there will be 40 initial boreholes for exploratory drilling in Marrickville municipality.  The locations are as follows –

  • Kendrick Park Tempe
  • Princes Highway Tempe – near Kendrick Park
  • Princes Highway Tempe/Kendrick Park – near Bay Street (West)
  • 886-896 Princes Highway Tempe
  • Brooklyn street Tempe – near number 10
  • Samuel street Tempe – near number 20
  • Sydenham Green Sydenham – near Coptic Orthodox Church building
  • George Street Sydenham – approximately 30-metres from Princes Highway
  • Grove street St Peters – approximately 30-metres west of Princes Highway
  • Berne Street St Peters – approximately 30-metres east of Princes Highway
  • In or near 1 Canal Road St Peters
  • In 314 Princess Highway St Peters (Dial a Dump site)
  • Roberts Street St Peters – near Roberts Lane
  • Edith street St Peters – near number 9
  • 93A Church Street St Peters (St Peters Public School)
  • 110 Campbell Street St Peters
  • 4-16 Campbell Street St Peters
  • Barwon Park Road St Peters – or in adjoining Sydney Park.

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