NSW government must clean up St Peter’s ‘parklands’

The St Peters park is situated in the largest traffic interchange in the southern hemisphere. Photo: Peter Boyle

Adding to the pollution, eyesore and financial misadventure of WestConnex in Sydney, a “park” in the middle of a spaghetti junction, known as the “St Peters interchange”, is so toxic that the NSW Berejiklian government wants to offload responsibility for cleaning it up to the City of Sydney and the Inner West Council.

Following the huge community campaign against the polluting tollway, the park was offered as “compensation” for carving nearly 20,000 square meters from Sydney Park.

The St Peters interchange, the largest traffic interchange in the southern hemisphere, hardly seems an appropriate place for a park.

Once the M4–M5 and Sydney Gateway connection to the airport is complete, the tangle of ramps, noise from heavy vehicles, high fencing and two sets of 5-storey exhaust stacks would be not only unpleasant but dangerous to human health.

The City of Sydney already warned the government last year that the land was polluted and unsuitable as a recreation spot.

Now, it has joined forces with Inner West Council to refuse to take over management of the park.

The area allotted for the park is south of Sydney Park, and near exhaust stacks from the WestConnex tollway. The hill near Canal Road and the Princes Highway is composed of friable toxic soil, excavated from building the WestConnex tollway, and experts say a lot of work is needed to stabilise it.

It is also near a former council waste recycling facility, which was sold to Dial-a-Dump by the former Marrickville Council. Its owner, Ian Malouf, agreed to allow Dart Energy to conduct a test drill for coal seam gas in 2012, until the community mobilised to stop it.

Environmental scientist Charlie Pierce called for an independent environmental assessment of the highly contaminated St Peters landfill being prepared for the community park.

The Department of Transport maintains that the City of Sydney must take charge.

Residents, including many who took part in the campaign against the expensive and polluting tollway, are standing firm. They say the government must be pressured to make the six hectares of parkland safe.

Nothing else is acceptable.

[Pip Hinman is standing for Socialist Alliance in the Inner West Council. She was active in the campaign to stop the Dart Energy test drill, the Stop WestConnex campaign, Newtown Residents Against WestConnex and is the Public Officer for Stop CSG Sydney.]