Council Decision on Synthetic Turf for Middle Head Oval

Council Decision on Synthetic Turf for Middle Head Oval

Dear Members and Supporters

Mosman Council votes against synthetic turf

Last Tuesday night Council voted 5 to 2 against proceeding with a Development Application for synthetic turf on Middle Head Oval.  Instead it voted to provide a new best practice natural surface with a commitment to increase playing time capacity for sport. 

Council conceded that the oval had not been as well surfaced and maintained as other ovals and that an investment in a natural oval is the right step.

HPG considers this to be a win/win result.  It is the culmination of a lot of hard work within HPG over a long period of time.  We thank all those Members and Committee Members who have contributed to this outcome.  

It was a long Council meeting with robust arguments on both sides.  HPG was oriented towards a solution which would meet our fundamental concerns whilst also supporting the local sporting clubs.  The Council ultimately came to a strong and sensible balance in its resolution.

The HPG position had many underpinnings, including the following:

Environmental Impact

An independent report from NGH Environmental, dated April 2017 and commissioned by the Trust is unambiguous.  It says;

  • synthetic turf would have a greater risk to the existing environment than natural turf’ AND
  • In accordance with ecological sustainable development principles the proposal would negatively impact the capacity of MHO to conserve and enhance the resources for ecological processes for total quality of life, now or in the future.’


Middle Head Oval is different from other ovals in the Mosman Municipality.  It is Commonwealth land, forms part of a heritage area and is its use is subject to the Sydney Harbour Trust Act and not local Government regulation.

HPG obtained legal advice from the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) that …. synthetic turf oval on Middle Head is inconsistent with the intention and provisions of the Trust Act and associated statutory plans.

The advice indicated that the matter would need to be referred to the Minister for the Environment for approval.

Growing Global Concern about Micro and Nano plastics

Local sporting clubs said there are no health or safety impact concerns.  However, the WA government report referenced by them, Natural Grass versus Synthetic Turf Study Report, is inconclusive.

Further this report does not address the growing global concern of micro and nano plastics which are formed from larger plastic items broken down by sunlight. 

Interaction with these particles allows oral, dermal and inhalation exposure to chemical components, leading to the presence in the human body of chemicals associated with plastics.

Other strong arguments we made related to cost, Council policies and processes, and the public interest. 

We commend Mosman Council on the decision and want to continue our discussions with local sporting groups and the community to ensure this win/win solution comes to fruition.

Thank you again to those many HPG members involved with this issue over the years.

We believe that present and future generations will be grateful that we acted to preserve and share Middle Head. 

We will be in touch with another member update before the year is over.

Warm regards

Tim James

President, Headland Preservation Group Inc.

Originally broadcast to members on 11 December 2017.

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