COCKBURN council looks set to scale back plans for a mountain bike trail in Manning Park.
Following what’s been described as a swift but hostile campaign by opponents, there are indications the council is already conceding 15 kilometres of tracks running throughout the limestone ridge on the park’s western edge is too much.
On Thursday the recently-formed Friends of Manning Park Ridge and Surrounds delivered a 440-strong petition to mayor Logan Howlett opposing the plan.
FMPRS member Jody Lange told the Herald the council had made a big mistake allowing mountain bike lobbyists to draft up its plan and had seriously under-estimated how much people valued the ridge’s ecological importance.
“It would be ideal if it was set up in a different place where the ecology was not as fragile,” Ms Lange said.
She said on one of her regular walks through the area, she came across a flock of black cockatoos feeding at ground level on the parrot bush dotted through the ridge.
“You can hear them before you see them, and I could hear this ‘crunch, crunch, crunch’ and the odd squawk, and even though I was walking very slowly and quietly, it was disturbing them.
“Can you imagine what it would be like if someone came roaring through on a mountain bike.
“There has been no environmental study.”
Ms Lange said part of the “thrill” for mountain bikers was creating their own tracks and jumps, and she’s worried a formalised trail won’t stop them from making more.
“Have you seen what they’ve done up there,” she asked.
“I have been walking in the park for 30 years … and the damage in the last two to three years has been substantial.”
Ms Lange said her group was also opposed to holding organised mountain bike races at the park, saying it could bring hundreds of people who’d end up trampling the bush alongside the tracks to get a view, while there wasn’t enough parking.
West ward councillor Phoebe Corke said her “jaw dropped” when she saw the extent of the proposed trail, and she acknowledged the council had made mistakes along the way, but says people needed to remember the plan was only a draft.
She also dismissed claims the council hadn’t consulted widely, saying she’d known about it before being on council when she was involved with the Hamilton Hill Community Group.
Cr Corke said a flyer doing the rounds misrepresented the trail as a giant pump track through the bushland, whereas the plan included that element in a small section of degraded tip site.