ENVIRO MAN: Craig Zerk pictured at the site of the new Wollongbar Sports Field, which was up until recently was the site of a macadamia orchard.
ENVIRO MAN: Craig Zerk pictured at the site of the new Wollongbar Sports Field, which was up until recently was the site of a macadamia orchard. Patrick Gorbunovs

It’s one big heap of crap

ONE of the first jobs in constructing Wollongbar's new sporting fields was to knock down 3000 macadamia trees.

The eight hectare site has been cleared to make way for an AFL field, two rugby grounds (one of which will also be used for cricket), six tennis courts, four netball courts and clubhouse facilities.

Project manager Craig Zerk decided to turn the old trees into a resource and has constructed a pile of compost from the chipped trees. All up it is about 7000 cubic metres that will be used as top soil on the playing fields.

"We're using the cleared vegetation as a resource rather than carting it offsite because there was costs savings and environmental benefits to composting it on-site to improve the condition of the playing fields," he said. Environmental consultant Gordon Fraser-Quick has been given the job of managing the massive compost pile which he believes is the biggest single batch of compost ever produced in NSW.

"It's pretty impressive... There are other piles that are bigger, but not all created at the same time. Mr Fraser-Quick said the pile will go through two more "turns" where some heavy duty digging equipment will aerate it, and then it should be "cooked".

The Wollongbar sports fields are part of a Building Better Regional Cities fund where $4.5 million of the $6.2 million project has been contributed by the Federal Government.

As part of the financial arrangement Ballina Shire Council is subsidising 96 residential lots in Wollongbar to people on low to moderate incomes.

Ballina Council general manager Paul Hickey said council is required to provide a rebate to developers of $25,000 on their section 94 contributions so a block of land that would have been on the market for $200,000 can be sold for $175,000.

"It's a good program in that it gets people in to the market. The cost of infrastructure is the biggest cost to local councils and the Federal Government is helping us get this (the sports fields) in place and we are able to provide a discount to purchasers who qualify."



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