Moreland Council commission an independent report on Synthetic Turf impacts

We, the below residents, request that City of Moreland commission an independent report on the Environmental, Social, Health and Economic benefits, costs, and impacts of synthetic turf, and to compare and contrast this to natural grass or existing surfaces, for good governance decision making as per the overarching governance principles of the Local Government Act 2020.

 

2020-11-03-Clifton-Park-synthetic-turf01.jpgImage: Clifton Park (Brunswick) synthetic turf field with black crumb rubber infill. The surface temperature of 60.4C measured on a 30 degree day in Spring in November 2020. A similar temperature was measured in Autumn in April 2021. During extreme heat days over 35C or 40C the surface temperature is likely to well exceed 70C.

Background:

Save Hosken Reserve campaign website

Climate Action Moreland Submission: Synthetic Turf and the Tragedy of the Commons in Moreland

Neighbours United for Climate Action (Facebook)

These synthetic surfaces are presently in Moreland Council plans beyond Hosken Reserve. Council has not assessed full social and environmental impacts, and so have determined no solutions to mitigate those impacts. This is poor governance.:
  • Balfe Park - Current rated usage: 16-20hrs, Moreland Sportsfields Review. Moreland Hybrid Surfaces and Synthetic Surfaces Needs Study. Timing: 6-10 years Estimated cost: $220k Upgrade playing field surface - levelling and grassing, new drainage, new irrigation (consider part hybrid surface - centre corridor and goal areas).
  • Clifton Park (west) Current rated Usage: 16-20hrs, Moreland Sportsfields Review. Moreland Hybrid Surfaces and Synthetic Surfaces Needs Study, Timing:6-10 years, Estimated Cost: $325k, Upgrade playing field - levelling and grassing, new drainage (consider hybrid or synthetic surface).
  • Coburg High School - New - Moreland Hybrid Surfaces and Synthetic Surfaces Needs Study, Timeline:1-5 years, Estimated Cost: $2Million, Liaise with the school and explore the development and construction of a lit synthetic multi-sport field.
  • Oak Park Reserve (west) - Current rated usage: 11-15hrs, Moreland Hybrid Surfaces and Synthetic Surfaces Needs Study, Timing: 6-10 years, Estimated Cost: $1.2Million, Install a synthetic AFL/cricket field
  • Parker Reserve (west) - Current rated usage:11-15hrs, Moreland Hybrid Surfaces and Synthetic Surfaces Needs Study, Timing: 6-10 years, Estimated Cost: $1.2M, Install a synthetic multi-purpose field. (Lights install is separate)
  • City Oval, Current rated Usage; 11-15hrs, Moreland Sportsfields Review, Timing: 2022/24, Reconstruct playing field (Sports Surface Needs Analysis 2018 recommended hybrid)
The low levels of allocated usage hours surely reflects the poor quality of Moreland's grass sporting surfaces. If Maribyrnong Council can upgrade Skinner Reserve to a player capacity of 35 hours a week, when soil scientists in the Hunter region have demonstrated on multiple fields a capacity usage of 35-40 hours per week, something is wrong in Moreland's Sports and Recreation Department in not adequately managing Moreland's sports fields.

Conversion of en-tout-cas tennis courts to sand filled synthetic grass
Community Tennis Courts are also undergoing transition with no triple bottom line assessment. Note the environmental footprint of tennis courts is much less than football or soccer ovals, but is still problematic. Tennis courts can be converted to concrete with acrylic surface or short sand filled synthetic grass. Both will have a carbon footprint, and synthetic grass will produce microplastics pollution and waste to landfill at end of life. These conversions happening under the radar without adequate environmental assessment.
  • Coburg Tennis Club - Moreland Sport and Physical Activity Strategy Timing: 0-5 years. Estimated Cost: $250k Convert remaining courts to synthetic grass.
  • Fawkner Tennis Club - Sport and Physical Activity Strategy Timing: 0-5 years. On Capex, 2022/23 Cost: $200k Convert remaining en-tout-cas courts to synthetic grass.
  • Merlynston Tennis Club - Sport and Physical Activity Strategy Timing; 0-5 years. On Capex, 2021/22 Cost; $100k Convert remaining en-tout-cas courts to synthetic grass at Merlynston Tennis Club.

An additional consideration regarding conversion of porous surface en-tout-cas courts to synthetic grass is the impact on tennis as a sport. 

Former Australian professional tennis player Paul McNamee advocates the importance of clay surfaces, and has just written a book  called 'Welcome to the Dance. Master Clay to Master Tennis" 
 
He argues that learning and playing on clay gives you superior tennis skills transferrable to other surfaces. He cites Ash Barty playing on clay courts in Brisbane in the formative part of her career as contributing to her success. 

A question was put to Paul McNamee via twitter on May 20: “So what are your thoughts on the growing trend to convert En Tout Cas (clay) community courts to sand filled synthetic grass by various Melbourne Councils? What will this do to juniors learning skills of tennis?” His response was: “With respect to the development of playing skills, I would say “counter productive”, as I don’t like to swear.”
 
“Hardcourt is draughts. Clay is chess. It’s the highest form of the game,’’ McNamee says. "You can bluff on a hardcourt; there’s nowhere to hide on a clay court. That’s where you learn how to play. In terms of learning the game there’s only one surface: that’s why almost 80 (74 on last week’s rankings) of the top 100 men are from Europe.’’

Could we be hindering the skills of future professional tennis players by getting rid of all en-tout cas courts in Moreland? Quite Possibly.

 


Save Hosken Reserve, Climate Action Moreland and Neighbours United for Climate Action    Contact the author of the petition

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