Environmental groups today launched a Liveable Western Sydney Policy to protect the environmental health of Sydney residents. The policy aims to curb sprawl, reduce air pollution and protect green spaces.
“Sydney’s environment is at the crossroads. Hundreds of thousands of people are exposed to unhealthy air; sprawl will worsen traffic congestion and eat up green spaces and bushland; and rising dirty energy costs. It’s not the sort of future anyone wants,” said Jeff Angel, Director of Total Environment Centre.
“The next state government has to take this situation seriously. The decisions we make in the next four years will lock in either an improving environment or an environmental crisis. Developers and planning ministers should not be allowed to destroy green corridors,” he said.
“The decisions being made now about Western Sydney will determine whether Sydney becomes a sprawling, unhealthy place to live or green and sustainable. At the heart of our Liveable Western Sydney Policy is the urgent need for the next NSW government to deliver affordable, more frequent and reliable public transport services as a handbrake to traffic growth,” said Pepe Clarke, Chief Executive Officer of Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
“If we do nothing, the number of days where ozone air pollution exceeds safe levels in Sydney are expected to rise by 27 per cent in the next decade. Residents of our western suburbs deserve fair access to active transport options,” he said.
KEY ELEMENTS: LIVEABLE WESTERN SYDNEY POLICY
1. Curtail urban sprawl. Western Sydney is the worst place for urban sprawl. Western Sydney has the city’s most serious pollution record for photochemical smog, as well as particles – making people sick. With sprawl it will get worse.
2. Consolidate development around public transport nodes in existing developed areas. Urban consolidation ensures efficient services utilisation, whereas urban expansion increases per person costs. By avoiding sprawl an even more costly heat island effect is avoided.
3. Significantly increase public transport spending for existing western Sydney areas, rather than use funds for more roads for sprawl. Public transport saves money (in terms of dollars and energy use) and lives.
4. Retain bushland either as conservation parks or vegetation corridors; prevent speculative clearing on private blocks; and retain productive agricultural areas. Protect, restore and improve the connectivity on rare Cumberland Plain bushland through environmental planning and private conservation initiatives. Agricultural lands close to the city play ensure fresh produce is provided at the lowest prices. These benefits should be protected for future generations.
5. Increase shading in streets. More street trees would reflect sunlight and provide shade to suburban Western Sydney making it more comfortable and help curb air conditioning use.
6. Press for international best practice vehicle emission standards to be introduced quickly. In addition to increasing public transport infrastructure, curbing vehicle emissions would slow the reduction in the air quality of Western Sydney.
Joint media release: Total Environment Centre, Nature Conservation Council, National Parks Association, The Wilderness Society and Colong Foundation for Wilderness.