Sydney is the envy of millions of urban dwellers around the world who can only dream of living in a city with such spectacular natural beauty. The National Parks fringing the city—Ku-ring-gai, Blue Mountains and Royal—are an integral part of Sydney’s beauty and attractiveness, and a vital haven for Sydneysiders to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Yesterday it was unthinkable that the government would consider bulldozing swathes of Royal National Park. But following today’s revelations in the Sydney Morning Herald, it appears that this is a live option.
“Royal National Park is a symbol of Australia”, said Kevin Evans, CEO of the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA).
“It’s our oldest National Park, and the second oldest in the world. Originally established as Sydney’s playground, millions of residents and tourists visit Royal every year.
“Royal also has World Heritage values, meaning it deserves to be listed among the most special natural places on earth. What it doesn’t deserve is to be carved apart by a massive new road.
“As recently as October 2013 the NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker was teaming up with her federal counterpart Greg Hunt to push World Heritage for Royal. Robyn even said ‘there is tremendous public support for this World Heritage listing’.
“Well, it appears that that public support may be sacrificed at the altar of a relentless infrastructure drive where nothing is too precious to lose. It’s hard to believe that in four short years the Coalition could have regressed so far on environmental protection that they’re prepared to torpedo World Heritage for the people of Sydney for a road. No amount of far-flung offsets will be sufficient to sweeten this medicine.
“World Heritage is the tourism equivalent of a neon sign attracting moths: people flock to visit World Heritage areas because it’s a global standard of excellence.
“And of course, the people of Sydney are just as important as tourists: Royal is the site of countless family picnics, walks in the bush and snorkel trips. Royal is a vital piece of natural infrastructure that adds incalculable value to people’s standard of living. In an increasingly frenetic world, we must treasure these havens of tranquillity.
“A famous singer once said ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone’. Never is that more true than in the case of Royal. If the government goes ahead with this proposal the citizens of Sydney will regret it forever. It’s vital that all Sydneysiders unite to prevent this hair-brained scheme from seeing the light of day.”
Dr Oisín Sweeney, Senior Ecologist
0431 251 194
Greg Hunt media release 8/10/13: https://www.environment.gov.au/minister/hunt/2013/mr20131008.html