Making Sports Playing surfaces sustainable

August 29, 2022 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment

Clifton Park synthetic turf pitch surface temperature

Moreland Council has ordered a report in the first stage of development of a policy on open space surfaces, and sports fields in particular. The report needs to consider in particular “consideration to our stance on the Climate Emergency, Integrated Water Management, Urban Heat Island Effect and our goal of zero waste by 2030.

At last Council is moving to incorporate triple bottom line principles of environmental, social and financial decision making as mandated under the Local Government Act with regards to sports surfaces decision making.

Brunswick Voice has an article on the debate in Council chambers on 10 August: Climate debate heats up over synthetic turf.

The following is the motion that was passed by Council:

That Council:
Requests a report and development of a policy on managing our sports field surfaces in particular, and open spaces surfaces more generally, that gives consideration to our stance on the Climate Emergency, Integrated Water Management, Urban Heat Island Effect and our goal of zero waste by 2030, including:
a) Consideration of the triple bottom line principles of environmental, social and financial sustainability including new and emerging natural turf and soil management, soil organic carbon sequestration or carbon sink potential options and best practice turf management.
b) Consideration of the impact of other synthetic surfaces being used by other land users within the municipality (e.g., schools) on community wellbeing.
c) Tabling a report to Council by 30 June 2023, given the breadth and complexity of the imminent Open Space Strategy Review.
d) Noting the process will follow Council’s consultation and engagement processes with the community, including tools like Conversations Moreland, and submissions and throughout review process.

August 2022 Minutes of Moreland Council meeting

In the Council officer report of the Notice of motion under Financial implications, it was reported that “An allocation of $30,000 will be required to provide a detailed expert advice and an evidence-based report to Council by end of June 2023.”


In March 2021 Climate Action Moreland highlighted the issue of use of synthetic turf within the municipality in a submission sent to all Moreland Councillors, published on our website in mid April: Synthetic Turf and the Tragedy of the Commons in Moreland. This followed previous articles in late February and April 2021 on Natural grass or Synthetic turf? What are the total life cycle emission profiles, and How will Synthetic turf impact urban heat island and microclimate around Hosken Reserve?

The full Synthetic Turf Literature Review was published on Climate Action Moreland Convenor John Englart’s own blog in late April 2021, along with a full annotated bibliography of all the sources.

Moreland Council decided not to proceed with conversion of the Hosken North sports oval to synthetic, although they committed to upgrading Hosken south to a hybrid synthetic field.

Council has several sports fields under consideration for conversion to artificial turf

Council still has several sports fields under consideration for conversion from natural grass to artificial turf..

Sports Surface Needs Analysis (2018) recommended conversions

Also, Clifton Park synthetic soccer pitch is due for resurfacing at a CAPEX estimated cost of $650,000 in the 2023/2024 financial year. This would be an appropriate time to assess whether synthetic turf resurfacing should be done, or the pitch upgraded to a well built natural grass soccer pitch (based on the research of Battam and Lambie 2020) that could offer 35-40 hours of playing capacity per week to meet the needs of soccer clubs.

In NSW a planning Department consultants report published in 2021 on synthetic turf in open spaces found that sports playing hours capacity was often restricted due to poor maintenance by Council of playing surfaces. Currently, the NSW Office of the Chief Scientist is investigating synthetic turf use, taking into account microplastics pollution, urban heat impacts and useability criteria.

Developing a policy on managing sports field surfaces in the municipality and use of synthetic turf in other public spaces is important given the need to adapt municipal facilities to increasing extreme events and rising heat associated with climate change. Council has a commitment to addressing the climate emergency since October 2018.

Council also has an obligation under the Local Government Act to consider triple bottom line assessments incorporating financial, environmental and social benefits and impacts for best governance


There are well built turf sports fields in Sydney getting up to 60 hours per week of sports use,

Council’s 2020 Active Recreation and Sports strategy fails to address climate risks

A policy on managing sports and other surfaces is also important considering a major deficiency in the Sports and Active Recreation Strategy (2020) approved by Council which fails to mention climate change.

The Strategy does not include any assessment of possible climate change impacts, climate risk management for people engaged in active recreation or playing organised sport, or impacts on sports facilities including sports fields.


Entry filed under: Moreland Council, news, Sport. Tags: , , , , .

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