Issues: Horse Centre at Galston

The equestrian facility DA came before council on Wednesday 17th August. Two councillors addressed the document itself, and two others joined them in voting against it. The remaining six seemed to be mainly concerned with the benefits of horse riding, and the lack of special facilities for horse riders. They voted in favour of the DA.

Initially, we opposed this proposal on five major counts:

  • it is extravagant and disproportionate to spend such a large sum on so few people when there are greater needs elsewhere;
  • the proposed equestrian facility would be a source of continuous and serious pollution to Berowra Creek, into which its effluence, treated and untreated, would drain;
  • this facility would be an on-going major financial burden to the rest of the Shire, since it would require extensive safeguards and considerable managing;
  • the horse riders already have a riding facility in Galston, which can easily be up-graded (if necessary) by incorporating an adjacent council depot;
  • the people of Berowra have been waiting far longer (15 years longer) for an aquatic centre, and the Shire-wide need for such a centre has grown considerably over the years;
  • council must not allow the minority group to jump the queue, especially since that group already has facilities, which it uses only twice a month.


Robyn Borkovic:
1: The draft Sports Facility Strategy (EN30/05) was deferred on the previous Wednesday by a unanimous council decision due partly to the lack of sufficient data on the Rural Sports Facility. It is therefore inappropriate that DA53/05 re the Rural Sports Facility Bayfield Road Galston be determined now.

2: Appropriate public consultation has been severely restricted because of limited access to the reports (Supplementary Report NO PLN229/05 ),
(notes - full document cannot be downloaded from the internet - and council staff said the document was too large to produce further copies).

3: When available as at Hornsby Library - it is incomplete with at least 27 pages missing from a report of about 223 pages - that is over 10% of the original document.
18 pages from the Statement of Environmental Effects. In Appendix D (Sustainable Water Development Control Plan Report) pages are unnumbered and the text is not continuous in the pages available.

4: Pages from Appendix C (Plan of Management) and in appendix D (sustainable water development control plan report) pages are unnumbered and the text does not connect in the 4 pages available. Also the attachment Appendix G (Waste management plan) is dark and utterly illegible.

5: Of the 14 Internal Referral Agencies (pp 6&7), 4 were not consulted, including the Water Catchments Team. This team should have been consulted to assess the impact on Berowra Creek in order to obtain proper data on pollution potential.
Of the 12 External Referral Agencies listed (p7) NONE was consulted. Sydney Water, National Parks &Wild life and NSW Fisheries should all have been consulted to obtain adequate environmental data.

6: The existing Pony Club plus the Council Depot site is approximately the same size as the usable land at the Bayfield Road site minus setbacks. Developing the Pony Club and Depot sites for horse riders would cost about $4.5 million less than council proposes to spend on the Bayfield Rd site. (Estimate in paper ENV82/02 tabled at council meeting on 13/11/2002.)

7: Regardless of the number of arguments for this proposal it is quite excessive to spend $6million on a facility for 333 registered riders. (ref: Strategic Leisure Plan of 2001).

Graeme Fear:
Contrary to the reported comments of one Councillor, Section 94 funds are ratepayers money, held in trust by the Councillors under a Constructive Statutory Trust. They are no longer developer's money.

9: The Section 94 Contributions Plan can be altered any time so the $5 million yet to be collected can be used for other purposes provided a link between need and population growth is established and the purpose is nominated in the amended plan.

10: The $1 million already in hand can be spent on other projects in the same category, not just on an Equestrian facility.

11: Other vital school projects will be delayed by up to six years if the Equestrian Centre is approved.

12: High insurance costs will preclude the public from using the facility.

13: The opinion of an auditor credentialed by the National Safety Council of Australia with 50 years experience in risk management is that the Equestrian Centre is high risk.

14: The idea that adjoining Councils do so much for their horse-riding community is not substantiated by my enquiries. Baulkham Hills Council don't operate anything and Kuringai only allow registered groups at St Ives Showground - individual riders are not allowed for insurance purposes.

15: Council claim that private facilities are not designed to cater for club or school activities or casual riding by the general public. I'll tell you why - the high risk factor and ongoing insurance liability. They are asking you to hang another long-term financial liability around ratepayers necks.

16: Council has not carried out a risk analysis and prepared and costed an appropriate risk management plan.

17: Maintenance, Supervision and oversite of an appropriate risk management plan will need two full-time equivalent staff. The ongoing recurrent cost of operating the facility will be a net $200,000 as Council only expects to collect $5,000 user fees.

18: Maintenance costs in the business plan will be impossible to achieve. As an ex-turf farmer I do know how much it costs to maintain large grassed areas.

19: Council are currently outlaying $20,000 per year unnecessarily at Fagan Park as they have discounted the Equestrian Centre costs by this amount as existing Fagan Park resources will be available.

20: How can Council say there are other similar facilities operating throughout NSW? Where? What basis? What knowledge do the coucillors have of these? It's very doubtful that they have allocated a massive $6 million in capital and exposed ratepayers to the ongoing risks Hornsby residents have to bear knowing what this involves.

21: Why does council try to partly justify this project and the destruction of agricultural potential of the land unless they don't it to be used only for residential purposes?

Gabe Lomas :
There would be an adverse environmental impact by this facility on Berowra Creek Catchment area, in which the site is situated, and on Berowra Creek itself.

23: The DA calls for the use of herbicides and pesticides to maintain landscaping. It admits that some pollution will result, but labels it 'insignificant'. There is no indication what this might mean. It should be spelt out. We need to know, since piecemeal pollution can result in considerable damage even over a short period of time. Indeed, council needs to adopt a more scientific way of assessing chemical and waste pollution associated with this proposal before it proceeds any further. At the same time, the use of non-chemical means of pest control must be seriously investigated.

24: Pollution from the proposed introduction of more animals into the Catchment area would come mainly from their fæces and urine. The horses alone that, on the DA's predictions, would use the facility each year would produce something like 25,580 litres of urine and 64,050 kgs of fæces. The DA proposes bins to collect fæces, yet there is no stated plan for monitoring and enforcing the collection of horse droppings by riders. The planned holding ponds could not cope with filtering out the potassium and phosphates from such a quantity of urine, which would then percolate into the surrounding waterways - all of which eventually empty into Berowra Creek.

25: Council is supposed to be committed to improving the environment, not degrading it.

26: Even more alarming is the destruction of part of an endangered plant colony, a Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest remnant that stands in the way of the road-widening proposed in council's amended DA.

27: Concerning the Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest, this is listed as an endangered ecological community in the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1998. All remnants are considered to be significant. The STIF Community is critically endangered, and there's now less than 0.75% of it left in NSW (NPWS 2002). It will become extinct in nature unless the factors threatening its survival cease to exist. One such factor is this DA, since part of this particular remnant of the Forest stands in the way of the proposed widening of Bayfield Rd, with up to 10 (ten) trees marked out for felling. These include a Grey Gum (Eucalyptus punctata), favoured food of koalas, which is about 70 feet tall and a yard or more in girth. Planting even a thousand saplings of the same species could never compensate for destroying a creature that has taken between 200 and 400 years to reach its present height. Every scrap of this forest remnant must be preserved. Whittling away at it as proposed is precisely the reason it has become critically endangered.

28: A number of threatened fauna species are also known to live in the area. They are left unidentified in the DA, instead of being identified and assessed in a proper Species Impact Statement. To the best of my knowledge, amongst them would be the Powerful Owl, Ringed-Tailed Possum, and a variety of small Bats. The DA needs an exhaustive fauna list to justify the peremptory label "not significant". There's no indication of what is and what isn't 'significant', or why. We and the councillors need these data before we can make up our minds in an informed and intelligent way.

29: The DA acknowledges that removal of any of this forest remnant would affect the foraging - and nesting - requirements of the endangered fauna, yet fails to produce any data to account for its dismissive treatment of them. The recorded scratch marks on the trees in the Turpentine-Ironbark Forest should have been scientifically investigated and the fauna that produced them properly identified. As it is, we don't know whether or not koalas are involved.

30: The whittling away of this critically endangered forest remnant today is on a par with the reckless behaviour that led to the extinction of the thylacine sixty years ago. We must resile from this behavioiur now, not later on when it's too late.

31: We residents of the 'Bushland Shire' refuse to connive in killing off endangered fauna and destroying their fragile habitat.

Nor do we want to see one of our most picturesque waterways fouled and further polluted.

33: No matter how many arguments might be adduced for your equine proposal, it is outrageous for you to spend $6 million of our money on a facility for 333 registered riders (ref: Strategic Leisure Plan of 2001), and thereby assist in turning our 'Bushland' Shire into a 'Wasteland' Shire.

Councillors did not respond to these objections.

Use as much as you wish of the above, along with your own comments, to compose an e-mail and then send it off to council. If you feel really active, send each councillor a snail-mail copy, too. You can get their addresses from the council web site.



The Shire needs safe swimming for the MANY,
Not horseplay for the FEW.

Your Council is planning to spend $6 million on an equestrian centre - that is, a large area for holding horse show events - at Galston. This is even though the horse-owning community already have Council owned facilities that can be expanded to meet any future needs! The revised Development Application for the new Galston facility will be voted on by the Councillors early next month - in August 2005.

The facts are:

Council's own Hornsby Leisure Strategic Plan 2001, identified a total of only 333 Members of Pony Clubs, School Equestrian Teams, Riders and Horsemanship Clubs. There is considerable "doubling-up" in the statistics, so the real number is significantly less. Even so, this represents only 0.002% of the Shire's population.

In comparison the same Plan identifies over 413,000 visits to Council's three often over-crowded swimming pools in the same year.


The facility will contravene Council's own planning rules; "to ensure that existing or potentially productive agricultural land is preserved." The proposed $6 million equestrian centre will totally destroy this agricultural land forever.

The Council's own Environmental Impact Statement (commissioned by them to themselves!) does not ensure any improvement of the environment (their own planning objective, required of everyone else!) - rather it only states there "should not be a significant adverse environmental effect." Many contaminants will inevitably drain into Berowra Creek a waterway that is already over-polluted.

The Council - and therefore the ratepayers - will be exposed to an increased insurance liability. The Council, as owners, have a duty of care to ensure that the premises at all times are free of hazard. Appropriate risk management will require constant daily Council inspections, diligence and supervision. Whether through Council expenditure or claims, this facility will inevitably have an impact on your Council Rates.

This project will be funded by money collected from under Section 94 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. This is your (the ratepayers) money held in trust by the Council for community facilities.


It is important that you tell the Council and the Councillors that you do not want $6 million spent on 0.002% of the Community - YOU want it allocated towards a new Shire Aquatic Centre that everyone can enjoy.

Did a councillor say there's a petition from 3,000 horse riders in the Shire supporting the proposed horse centre? Here's the petition, it's contents analysed, courtesy
Bev Inshaw

Petition dated 8th September 2003
Fagan Park - Informal Riding Area

(Latest Tally 27th July 2005)

A number of councillors have used the petition tendered by the Galston Chamber of Commerce on 8th September 2003 to justify the need for an equestrian facility in Galston. It should be noted that the petition related to informal horse riding in Fagan Park, not an equestrian centre.

Petition Descriptor:

“We agree with the Council’s proposed plan of management for Fagan Park. While maintaining the environmental atmosphere of gardens, bush and historical aspects we the undersigned would like to see more recreational activities introduced for families and children including walking and bike tracks and informal riding which we feel would blend in with the local surrounds.”

Total signatures obtained = 2233.
This includes 26 signatures on a sheet of paper on which the petition did not appear. It also includes 20 signatures with either an illegible address or no address at all.

Number of signatures on the petition from within Hornsby Shire = 1135 or 50.83%. This includes many addresses located in Baulkham Hills Shire, since the collators of the petiton have included all Dural and Glenorie addresses in the count for Hornsby Shire.

Number of signatures from Baulkham Hills Shire (other than Dural, Glenorie) = 492 or 22%.

Number of signatures from Kuringai Shire = 97 or 4.3%.

Number of signatures from elsewhere, including Queensland, Victoria, the U.K and the USA = 509 or 22.8%.

Percentage of Hornsby Residents who signed the petition = approx 0.75%.

Over 50% of the signatures would have been made by people residing outside Hornsby Shire because many of the Dural and Glenorie addresses included in Hornsby figures above were from Baulkham Hills Shire.

Have your say!

B&DCA protesters in Hornsby on Bastille Day

You can e-mail the mayor and councillors of Hornsby Shire about these matters from this website. In just two clicks you can send an e-mail message to the mayor and councillors.


top of page