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SSC Newspaper : June 2013
Strathfield Scene 11 www.ourstrathfield.com.au the big issue “As a principal of a school I can tell you there are two concerns any staff member would have, and those are allergies and asthma.” — Phil Townsend, St Anne’s Primary St Anne’s Primary is a small school that caters for kindergarten to year six students. It is about two kilometres from the industrial site. Principal Phil Townsend, who is also a resident of the area, said his concern was that, once operational, pollution from the logistics centre may affect his students’ health. “As a principal of a school I can tell you there are two concerns any staff member would have, and those are allergies and asthma,” he said. Mr Townsend said there had been an increase in children presenting with asthma over the two decades he has been in the education sector. “This is extremely worrying because nothing is worse than having a child go through an asthma attack,” he said. Noone is now battling the logic of why Enfield exists. In the words of the Sydney Ports website, Enfield will lead to: • The removal of up to six million truck kilometres from Sydney’s roads annually, and reduction of approximately 1,000 tonnes of C02 emissions per year within the Sydney airshed. (Environmental Assessment 2005) • A positive contribution to the growth of western Sydney’s regional economy, including the creation of employment opportunities during both construction and operation • A significant capital investment in the locality and the potential to stimulate commercial and light industrial activities within the surrounding industrial area So why wouldn’t the current state government make good on the promise – evenifitwasaLaborpledge–fora small, green oasis as compensation for the hardship faced by these families, who fear their homes have already been devalued? Finding out is an interesting exercise in obfuscation. Mayor Gulian Vaccari and Strathfield MP Charles Casuscelli are championing the residents’ cause. “ We’ve already met with Brad Hazzard, where we discussed this almost exclusively,” said Cr Vaccari. “He gave us a good hearing and said ‘yes, I can see what you are saying’. But he also said: ‘The local environment plan [LEP] is done and dusted. My job is done, for better or for worse. I now need Duncan Gay, the Minister for Ports and the overseeing minister for that site, to bring a proposal to me as to why the LEP should be changed.” Cr Vaccari is setting up a meeting with Mr Gay and is determined to get results. “ We have to fix it, and fix it we will,” he told The Scene. He acknowledges the need for the centre, but added: “If you Google that area, on the immediate side of the site where that park should be are large residential expanses. So this is the least they should do for us – considering it is less than 5 per cent of the site. On a fairness basis it doesn’t fit.” FrogS 1, PeoPle 0 We are here for the long term and want to work with the local community, so we will talk to residents. But the land is unfit for a recreation area. Last month, the land passed into the ownership of NSW Ports, which also bought Port Botany and other assets for more than $5 billion – money much needed to kick-start state infrastructure projects. A spokesperson for the new company, which includes some of the richest superannuation funds and a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, insisted the land was “unfit” for recreational use because it had been used for industry. Only the green and gold bell frog could be allowed on the land, and visits to its habitat would be restricted and accompanied. The spokesperson could not understand why the council, the state government and residents did not know that the land could never have been used as a recreational area for residents and their children because, in her words, “it is unfit”. Strathfield Council officials are also puzzled by this response. They concede Sydney Ports lobbied hard for the area to be zoned industrial and therefore against the “community and ecological area”. But they pointed out that the industrial zoning meant the land could now be sold. “The ‘community and ecological area’ as per the original 2007 state government approval was intended for community uses and therefore mostly accessible to the public. “The main part of the original ‘community and ecological area’ from Punchbowl Road to the frog ponds would become an open access recreation area, the Tarpaulin Shed buildings would be converted to community use or relocated and the area added to the open access recreation area.” Would the new owners of the land consider meeting residents to find a solution? “ We are here for the long term and want to work with the local community,” the company spokesperson said. “So we will talk to residents. But the land is unfit for a recreation area.” Given that they only took over the land one week ago, that meeting could be a long time coming. Mr Gay’s office said he was no longer in charge of the site. The national director of corporate industrial relations at Jones Lang LaSalle, Andrew Maher, reckons intermodal logistics centres like the one being built at Enfield will bring $10 billion of community benefits to the state in reduced traffic congestion, freight costs and better environmental outcomes. With container traffic at Port Botany increasing by 5 per cent a year, using rail and road centres keeps many huge trucks clogging city streets. It’s easy to see how Sydney benefits, but who wants a logistics centre in their back yard? Which is why, according to residents in Enfield , the state government promised them eight hectares of green space almost a decade ago. It was meant as a token to make up for the fact that, as Strathfield Mayor Gulian Vaccari puts it, they are “doing it tough for all of us”. Construction of the $300 million logistics centre is well under way. You can read reports of the work at the Sydney Ports website http://www. sydneyports.com.au/projects_and_ planning/enfield/environmental_ considerations, along with their pride at working hard to preserve the habit of the green and gold bell frog. But you won’t find anything about the residents’ recreation area. The state government rezoned it when they signed off on Strathfield’s local environmental plan. Now they get nothing for the noise, pollution and disruption they have to endure. The 60-hectare site will be the final destination for industrial freight trains, where they offload goods onto container trucks that will be dispersed around the state. It will run 24/7 and be serviced by 600 trucks a day. Resident Pat Giammarco, who has crusaded against Port Enfield since 1994, concedes that the battle is lost. “But what we were promised was a bit of land, which hardly compares to what we have to deal with,” she said. “So we turned our attention to getting this piece of land to build a park or a community centre. This side of Liverpool Road doesn’t have a community centre.” But as the years rolled by the promised land earmarked by the Department of Environment and Climate Change was whittled away. First from eight to six, then to five hectares. Now it is gone altogether. $10 billion in benefits, but Enfield locals can’t get an answer on the promise of a little green space to make up for the noise and discomfort. The green and gold bell frog will be allowed on the rezoned land, but not the people of Strathfield.
SS July 2013