• Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

NSW government seeks feedback on draft guidelines

The New South Wales Government in Australia is seeking community feedback on newly released draft guidelines for the use of synthetic turf on playing fields.

Once the guidelines are finalised, they will be accessible to all councils, sports clubs and local stakeholders to make informed decisions on the addition of synthetic turf in their local sporting hubs.

Following two investigations into the use and impacts of synthetic turf by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer and NSW Government, The Department of Planning Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) worked with councils, key stakeholders and industry to develop the draft guidelines.

There has been much discussion about the use of synthetic turf in public spaces, and the NSW Government believes that the guidelines will be a valuable resource and tool. These guidelines provide strategies and case studies to assist planners and sports field managers in delivering the best outcomes for their communities.

The NSW Government wants to encourage people to use their local spaces, get involved in community sport and take their kids to the park.

The draft guidelines carefully consider opportunities where synthetic turf can be used on sporting surfaces, while balancing the needs and expectations of each local community.

A 6-week public exhibition period will commence from now until Monday 29 April. Councils and the public can submit their feedback by visiting planning.nsw.gov.au/policy-and- legislation/open-space/synthetic-turf-study.

Feedback will be reviewed and considered ahead of the guidelines’ finalisation in 2024.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said:

“We’re seeing a growing demand for sports fields and ovals in our communities, and we want to provide people with access to public spaces all year round in a range of climates.

“Given the conversations around potential impacts of synthetic turf, these guidelines provide councils, sports clubs and local decision-makers with research-backed information to make the best decisions for their communities.

“We’re confident that these draft guidelines will give decision-makers the information necessary to ensure that their choices align with the values and aspirations of their local communities. This is all about embracing modern innovation methods in our public open spaces.”

Mixed feelings

The release has been met with mixed feelings by some.

Garnet Brownbill from the Natural Turf Alliance (NTA) told City Hub that the draft guidelines don’t present all factors to decision makers.

“It is very disappointing to see the guidelines appear to be a ‘How to install synthetic turf’ rather than a decision matrix comparing natural grass, synthetic turf or other options which in turn allows decision makers to critically weigh up all the factors and balance environmental degradation, human health impacts and a plethora of other issues with utilisation needs, sporting demands and the concerns of community members,” he said.

Furthermore, more than 80 per cent of the report is focused on the role of synthetic turf and what considerations are involved for its installation, with little to no analysis or comparison provided relevant to natural turf or other alternatives.

“Given the evident community concerns being raised within Inner West Council, the best outcome is clearly to just not install a plastic park,” he continued.

Guy Oldenkotte

Guy Oldenkotte is senior editor of sportsfields.info and has been covering the outdoor sportssurfaces market and industry since 2003

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