The environment portfolio intersects with several other groups, particularly Transport and the Bays & Foreshores Group. I attended a number of meetings of the Bays Precinct Reference Group, mostly as an alternate to Lesley Lynch. Lesley covered the activity of that Group in the last Bulletin.

Since that Bulletin we have met with representatives of the architect and designer of the new Fishmarket, where we made clear our concerns about the huge volumes of traffic the new site would generate and the complete lack of planning to manage that traffic.

Since Lesley wrote her report the issue of Blackwattle Bay Marina (BBM), trading as All Occasion Cruises, has arisen. I represented The Glebe Society at a very well attended community meeting in Pyrmont. The meeting was held to protest the State Government plan to move BBM from Bridge Rd, where the new Fishmarket will be built, to Banks St, Pyrmont, under the Anzac Bridge.

Sydney Heritage Fleet, which is currently located on Rozelle Bay, had put in plans to build a public museum with a wharf for 11 boats there. It had planned to operate under standard office hours, with occasional boat movements. It had also consulted with the local community, and accordingly made some alterations to their plan.

After lodging the plan, the Sydney Heritage Fleet was offered a position at Darling Harbour, which they accepted. Suddenly the Sydney Heritage Fleet plan was ‘modified’ to cover the shift of BBM to the Banks St site.

BBM was granted the lease at Bridge Rd in 2010, under a number of conditions, including erecting several buildings, which it has never fulfilled. The head of NSW Maritime at the time was Steve Dunn, and the minister was Joe Tripodi, both of whom have been found to be corrupt in unrelated matters.

So the Banks St proposal morphed from a friendly non-profit museum to a 7am to 1am business with twice the number of boats and a collection of 22 rusting ship containers that one resident described as a third-world set up on a world-class harbour. It would also involve managing large quantities of rubbish and a sewage pump out-station.

The Glebe Society objects to the alienation of public land for BBM, the proposed reduction in open space, and the promised foreshore walkway becoming a narrow path away from the water. The argument that BBM would only have a ten-year lease is no consolation, given what happened with the Sydney Superyacht Marina on Rozelle Bay (That Marina was supposed to provide temporary accommodation for just 15 superyachts for the duration of the Sydney Olympics in the year 2000. Last year the company announced a $30 million investment to increase the number of berths to 43, and to ‘create an exclusive yacht club, several new eateries and 7,000 square metres of retail and commercial space’.)

The subcommittee decided to tackle the problem of plastic bags and non-recyclable coffee cups in Glebe. This was a challenge as in every other jurisdiction where plastic bags have been banned the decision came from the top, i.e. from state governments or councils. Local business owners felt that if they refused to supply plastic bags, their customers would just go to another business that would supply them.

Then, in July, Coles, Woolworths and Harris Farms all announced they intended to ban plastic bags next year, though the State Government has refused to support that ban.

Our next challenge is to end the use of takeaway coffee cups, which not only cannot be recycled but can actually contaminate a load of recycling. The statistics on plastic pollution are horrifying: Planet Ark estimates about 60,000 kilograms of plastic waste from coffee cups is sent to landfill in Australia each year, and those cups take about 50 years to break down. We hope an education campaign, along with a Glebe Society KeepCup, will reduce the load.