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Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release late May 2003

Pollution and "Plan First"

Hi SOS Members

Television and newspaper have displayed graphic images of the 500 megalitres of sewage that flowed into Sydney Harbour during our recent rain spell of 250 to 300 mm. The magnitude of this pollution is a direct result of the State Government's high density policies.

The stormwater drains and the sewers of our suburbs were designed for the original population numbers and building structures. Under its urban consolidation policy the Carr Government is forcing hugely increased population densities into these suburbs without improving the infrastructure. The sewers cannot cope with the increased number of people and have a much reduced safety factor. Add to this the gardens that are now covered with tiles, bitumen and concrete. There is now much less open ground to absorb rainwater. Some of this rainwater then rushes into creeks carrying pollution with it. Some enters the overloaded sewers and causes them to overflow.

Yet the Government keeps on telling us that their high-density policies are resulting in a more sustainable city!


Over a number of years the State Planning Department (under the then Planning Minister Craig Knowles) prepared a series of proposed reforms to change the planning system which became known as "PlanFirst". PlanFirst was carefully promoted by means of a series of blatantly manipulated public meetings. SOS realised that these proposals had the potential to drastically increase the dictatorial powers of the Department of Planning at the expense of democratically elected councils. As a result yet more people would be crammed into our suburbs. SOS prepared a carefully researched ten page critical analysis of the proposals. This document was distributed to parliamentarians and mayors of local councils. SOS also made strong representations to the parliamentary members of the General Purpose Standing Committee No 4 which has planning matters within its brief.
The timetable that the Department of Planning had prepared for the introduction of the autocratic "PlanFirst" legislation then went awry. Previously announced deadlines came and went and the department went into damage control. Finally the plans for the legislation were scrapped but in an attempt to save departmental face it was stated that legislation was not required and the proposals would be introduced "administratively".

However in today's Sydney Morning Herald (page 12) Craig Knowles (now Minister of Infrastructure and Planning) is quoted as saying that every planning instrument, even PlanFirst are up for scrutiny. "Asked to explain further, particularly on PlanFirst, he raises an eyebrow but says nothing, his silence clearly implying that what he has seen he does not like".

Let us hope that Craig Knowles is beginning to see the light on the true nature of our State's disastrous planning policies.

Tony Recsei
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)

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