LETTER – 22 October 2009 – Dear Michael [Mobbs] I subscribe to The Fifth Estate newsletter and have just finished reading your article, “Bathurst Burr: Supermarkets are killing our villages”. It’s like you have been reading my mind; even though I can only dream of writing as well as you.

I have lived in Newcastle for over three years and, every time I visit Sydney, I notice more and more construction happening all over the city. In fact, Sydney has turned into one major construction site.

The areas I have huge issues with are as follows:

  • The Prince Henry Hospital site
  • The extension of Port Botany
  • The high rise slum-to-be that used to be Alexandria
  • Maroubra Junction
  • The desalination plant at Kurnell
  • The new shopping mall to be built in Sans Souci

I was married at the little chapel in 2006 when they started the housing development in Little Bay. I distinctly remember the developers claiming to respect the history and the heritage of the site. Observing the eventual outcome, could anything be further from the truth? There is a building on every single patch of green that is not golf course. I am also afraid that once people take up residence, access will eventually be cut off to members of the public. This beautiful piece of land should be available for all Sydney-siders to enjoy.

I look at the development of the Port Botany area with great despair. What is the point of the average householder doing their bit by recycling, changing light bulbs, etc., when developers and big companies are carrying on with “business as usual”? Also, what is the point of encouraging the state’s consumers to buy local and doing a major port expansion at the same time? It is absolute madness. Has Nathan Rees even heard of global warming?

“Sydney Ports Corporation views sustainability as a fundamental corporate responsibility.”

They must be kidding themselves if they think anyone in their right mind believes this nonsense. The expansion of the Port will put paid to all semblance of caring for the environment. Expansion of trade, over-production, over-consumption and greedy over-development are strategies that will achieve the exact opposite effect of sustainability, since these are the factors that have caused global warming in the first place.

We do not need any more cheap, plastic trinkets from Chinese sweat shops to continue to serve as landfill. Do we really need to secure the trade future of Sydney and NSW any further? There is much more to the future than trade and shopping – it’s called the environment!

Have you seen what they have done to the Alexandria area? One hideous high-rise building after another,none of which fits into the natural landscape. It is an ugly mish-mash of glass, metal and concrete with hardly a blade of grass in sight. Once again, has the concept of sustainability entered the developers’ minds? Has anyone predicted the eventual population of this relatively small area? I am sure the owner of Meriton Apartments hasn’t; he’s too busy laughing all the way to the bank and turning Sydney into slum nightmare waiting to happen.

Areas like Maroubra Junction, Hurstville and Cronullla have been completely overtaken by high rise. I think the developers in these areas have secretly been trying to block out the sun for the past 10 or so years.

As far as the desal plant is concerned, Captain Cook must be turning in his grave. How have they been allowed to completely despoil what should be a revered site for all modern Australians? Has anyone completed an environmental impact study of the effects of desalination on our already stressed coastline and oceans?

Apparently, there is a shopping mall to be built in Sans Souci. Sydney needs a new shopping mall about as much as New Zealand needs more sheep. What legacy are we leaving the future generation a landscape covered in shopping centres as far as the eye can see, completely devoid of any urban green? Another over-stuffed, over-lit, energy wasting garbage producing behemoth, filled with “stuff” that no-one really needs. I think the economic downturn was a “wake-up” call for the environment, but the politicians and consuming public missed the point altogether.

In Newcastle, they are building a shopping centre in a suburb named Charlestown that looks like it is going to be the size of a small city. In other areas, they have or are building enormous homemaker centres right next to existing ones. Every time I pass a patch of green, I can guarantee there is a “For Sale” sign on it the next time I go by. It is absolute madness. They seem hell bent on destroying every remaining green space in sight.

Sorry about the rant. I have been bottling this up for some time now and it is so refreshing to find someone else who gives a hoot. I know It is too late to do anything about these issues now, but perhaps in the future, we could rally more green power to develop more urban parks and green spaces rather than more shopping malls, ports and high rises.

Nora Jones

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