OMV faces murder!

Tristania's picture

By Tristania - Posted on 21 March 2015

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

Some somber news regarding Old Man's Valley. We need your support to counter/rectify the situation to the best of our ability as otherwise it'll be swamped by massive trucks who think that a freeway tunnel is more important than a great community facility that helps thousands of people experience and enjoy the bush, company, fun and fitness.

"On the face of it, things look fantastic. Council acknowledge the success and importance of the mtb trails and have told me that they are committed to making a functional loop and working with Northconnex to get crossings across the fire trails. And longer term mtb trails are planned for the parkland. They are also working with trail consultants to identify where the green / light blue trails that will be lost can be relocated. But what is likely to happen is that things will get hard – Northconnex contractor will buck at the thought of building crossings and Council will get walked over. Secondly, although some fantastic alternative location exist for the green and light blue loops, Council’s Bushland Department will buck at the thought of putting trails through native bushland (which they have to as that’s all that’s left). So we aren’t trying to change their minds or their direction, we are just lobbying to get them to commit and tackle the hurdles that will face them in the next 2 months.

So please write a letter to Councillors - raising our concerns about losing the trails and asking them to commit to what they said they will do and make a functional loop, equal to or longer than the existing and not some half baked token effort that relegates the trails as nonfunctional. Remind them about how mtb in bushland is low impact, that NPWS have done it around Oz, Tassy etc and how its an amazing way to win peoples hearts for conservation. Write to Matt Kean - to make him aware that Council are needing Northconnex and State Gov support to get the crossings over the fire trails and unless this happens we will lose the trails as a functioning network. A supplementary EIS from Northconnex will also come out in the next month or so where we can make comments. So keep an eye out for that.

For those interested in more details, read on.

Here is what is “supposed” to happen according to Council.
Northconnex contractor takes control of the lower OMV areas in Sep 15. This means that the Green, Light Blue and possibly parts of Lava Flow are lost during the filling process and future sports oval development.
Council say that they are committed to maintaining a functional loop in OMV. This means relocating the lost trails into the surrounding bushland. To do this they need to build crossings over the fire trails (tunnels or bridges), and then build new green and light blue trails (or reconfigure what we have into easier grades and then build new more difficult trails). Trail consultants are looking at this and it is very feasible as there are some great spaces with appropriate grades for the easy trails.
Council will be asking State Government and Northconnex to assist with funding the crossings. After the Quarry filling, Council will take over and start moving another 1 million cubic metres of fill into the hole and stabilise things. This will make way for the recreational facilities including the cricket oval and playground. More mtb trails are proposed (opening around 2021) although these are to be focused on the Northern batter slope which isn’t good because experience around the world suggests building trails on batter slopes rather than natural land form can be disastrous. This work isn’t included in the $22 million that we are paying to the Northconnex contractor for them to put their spoil in the Quarry. So funding for the second stage is yet to be found or costed. However, original estimates for OMV oval and speciality construction was $10 million which didn’t include stabilising works. So its big dollars.

This is what I think will happen. I will be VERY happy if I am wrong but I think the only way to prove me wrong is for us to lobby pretty hard and write to Council and Matt Kean / Northconnex and make a loud noise.

Good solutions for green, light blue and some more advanced trails will be proposed that run through the remaining areas. However, as there are no degraded areas left to build the beginner trails in, Council’s Bushland Department will reject the suggested solutions because they involve native bushland (other projects around Australia build in bushland but our bushland department seems to take a harder line approach) and suggest a much smaller green loop to be built near the Hornsby Pool. This will be an unsatisfactory solution with no progression.
Council will ask Northconnex contractor and State Government to allow and help provide for crossings. Tunnels are simplest but Council believe homeless may sleep in them therefore they prefer bridges (which are possible). However, the Northconnex contractor will want nothing to do with Council’s desire to maintain a functional loop and they will resist it. End result will be Council being outmanoeuvred and no crossings will be built. Matt Kean could help here if he sees it as an important thing for the community (which he will not unless we tell him)
The end result is a none functioning trail that hardly anyone will bother riding. Interest will be lost and the trails will die a rapid death.
No official trails in Hornsby till 2021 by which time things move on.
Most likely proliferation of uncontrolled unofficial building in sensitive areas which was a big problem before council built OMV
As an aside, I will be very upset (well sad is more appropriate) if Council relax the environmental controls for the quarry filling and construction of sports ovals when compared to the very strict controls they have placed on mtb trails. For example, we have had to have a 20 metre buffer between a trail and a blue gum high forest regrowth. However, the batter slop for the sports ovals is going to run straight through the blue gum high forest. If this isn’t changed to a 20 metre buffer zone then you could forgive me for feeling a tad frustrated.

Spread the word and write ! Thanks."

- Campbell King (SNORC president)

Addresses of local councilors:

Matt Kean (MP for Hornsby)

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