Turf war erupts over synthetic pitch

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A turf war has erupted over plans to turn another oval on Sydney’s north shore into a synthetic pitch, which residents and cricketers argue will drive them from the ground.

Ku-ring-gai Council has proposed converting Mimosa Oval in Turramurra into an artificial playing surface to address growing demand for outdoor sporting facilities.

A plan to convert the grass field at Mimosa Oval into a synthetic pitch has raised concerns among residents such as Jeremy Ryan and Trish Lynch.

A plan to convert the grass field at Mimosa Oval into a synthetic pitch has raised concerns among residents such as Jeremy Ryan and Trish Lynch.Credit:Wolter Peeters

A council spokeswoman said a synthetic field would provide an all-weather surface and allow games to be played during and after wet weather.

But John Ferguson, the president of the Kissing Point Cricket Club, said artificial turf would be unsuitable for cricket games.

He said the council’s proposal did not include a centre wicket, and the artificial surface would only be constructed wide enough to accommodate soccer.

“Even if play was possible, there are significant concerns with heat exposure, as studies have suggested the artificial surface significantly amplifies heat,” he said. “In a summer season, you would be putting children at risk, even for morning use.”

Mr Ferguson said artificial grass would also render the oval unsuitable for residents who use the oval for outdoor play, dog walking and picnics.

The cricket club said in a submission to the council that there was a greater risk of injury on artificial playing surfaces than natural grass.

“It appears inevitable that the natural surface will erode or subside, creating a trip hazard, and making the ground entirely unsuitable for small ball games such as cricket, where out-fielding is required,” the submission said.

Other submissions opposing the proposal suggested fake grass was an environmental and bushfire risk, while increased usage of the oval in winter would lead to traffic and parking congestion.

Trish Lynch, the convenor of the Friends of Mimosa Rofe Park, said artificial turf would cost more than natural grass to maintain, yet exclude many residents and other sporting groups from the oval.

“Our community is not happy with a football club taking over what is regarded as a shared Turramurra community green space and cricket oval,” she said.

The $1.5 million plan is part-funded by the North Shore Football Association, which aims to increase the number of synthetic pitches on the north shore from six to 10 by 2021.

“We will actively pursue and support projects that drive the conversion of fields to synthetic surfaces,” the NSFA’s website states.

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