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The New South Wales Government recently announced an energy infrastructure road map that it claims will replace four out of five of NSW’s ageing coal-fired power stations, build Australia’s first renewable energy zones in the Central West and New England and attract $32 billion of private investment in regional energy infrastructure.
This is at a time when the NSW Government is funding road infrastructure in the form of Westconnex, Northconnex, the Western Harbour Tunnel and Warringah Freeway upgrade to the extent of a very similar amount. Whether it is private capital or government funds, there are only finite resources and investing in one project comes at the cost of resources available for other projects. This is known as opportunity cost.
At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic increase in people working from home and a consequent decrease in traffic volume on the city’s roads. According to the on-line journal The Conversation (16 November 2020): ‘The increase in working from home turns out to be the best policy lever the transport sector has ever pulled for reducing traffic congestion in our cities.’
The authors of the article began looking at the impacts of the increase in working from home on our roads and public transport from March to September and found a 10-15% drop in peak period congestion.
That’s similar to traffic during school holidays. COVID-19 has done something that government has not been able to achieve – cutting road congestion almost overnight. To capture the benefits of this shift on our roads, government needs to play a role. If the NSW Government had acted to reduce traffic demand, such as encouraging working from home, in place of investing billions in expressways, those billions would be available for our pressing environmental priorities.
Frank Breen, President
The Society has been active in local conservation issues since 1966 and is well networked with the broader conservation movement across NSW.
The Society's Constitution states its Aims and Objectives as:
a. The education of the members and the community, particularly in the local area, in nature conservation and protection of the environment;
b. To promote ecologically sustainable land use and development;
c. To promote nature conservation including an adequate system of national parks, wilderness areas, nature reserves, wildlife refuges and corridors and urban bushland reserves; adequate protection measures for native wildlife;
d. Achieving satisfactory measures to safeguard the environment from all forms of pollution to ensure clean air, clean water and a healthy environment;
e. To work for the permanent retention and conservation of all natural areas in the local district and an increase in the area set aside for nature conservation and
f. To undertake the management of the Field of Mars Reserve with Ryde City Council as a major conservation project
We have a regular newsletter Wallumetta which is issued six times a year which attempts to update members on both local environmental issues and issues of wider impact. Our volunteer members keep the Visitors Centre open each weekend. Please contact us if you have concerns about threats to our local natural areas and the precious native fauna which depend on our sensitive bushland areas and waterways.
In the mid 1960s, with an increasing amount of waste needing disposal, Ryde Council looked to an expansion of the small tip in the Field of Mars Reserve. Council proposed to pipe Buffalo and Stranger's Creeks to facilitate a landfill area to a depth of up to 15m feet which could then be re-developed into playing fields. Local residents united to form the Anti-tip Action Group and lobbied to reverse Council's plans for a tip at the Field of Mars. The tip was moved to Porter's Creek which to this day still requires substantial funds to control the environmental damage arising from past use as a tipsite. With the Field of Mars saved the Society was established in January 1966.
In September 1966, Ryde Council advised the Society that it agreed to their proposal to development of the Field of Mars Reserve as a flora and fauna sanctuary. Hard work over following decades has seen restoration of old degraded areas of the Field of Mars and protection of the area as a Wildlife Refuge. A Visitors Centre was built and then the Environmental Education Centre which is visited by about 10,000 students each year.
(subject to current Covid-19 restrictions)
*Rug hand-knitted and kindly donated to RHHFFPS by the Holy Spirit Yarnknit Group of North Ryde.