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Council bans fake grass from city verges

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Adelaide City Council has unanimously agreed to ban the use of artificial turf on verges following claims that it contributes to urban heating and landfill.

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The council says the policy change won’t be retrospective or affect those who already have artificial turf on their verge, but will prevent any new applications or installations.

Artificial turf became popular across Australia during the millennium drought when strict water restrictions were imposed, however it has since been criticised by environmentalists for its adverse impact on biodiversity.

Area councillor Robert Simms, who proposed the ban, said during Tuesday night’s council meeting that artificial turf damaged the environment as it is made from a plastic that is slow to decompose.

“Just two weeks ago we declared a climate emergency, so it is incumbent on us to do all that we can do to reduce emissions and to reduce the effects of climate change in our city,” he said.

“It does nothing to promote biodiversity, in fact it hinders it.

“Fake grass can destroy microorganisms in the soil under the grass, which harms surrounding plants.”

Simms said artificial turf also contributed to waste and the heat island effect in the city, as the plastic from which it is made radiates heat.

According to a council report, the surface temperature of artificial turf is higher than other surfaces, including asphalt and significantly higher than natural turf.

Simms said some city verges were covered with artificial turf, despite a council administration claim that fake grass was not “considered” in nature strip applications.

“I looked at council’s existing nature strip application and one of the problems is it actually doesn’t provide guidance to the community around what constitutes appropriate turf, it just says tick a box do you want turf (or) do you want plants,” he said.

“On that basis, I don’t blame residents who may be using artificial turf perhaps on the mistaken belief that it’s compliant with council’s standard.”

The council’s administration said a note stating that artificial turf is not permitted could be added to its nature strip application form to clarify that the word “turf” referred to natural turf.

South ward councillor Helen Donovan said banning fake grass was “sensible” as it reduced permeable surfaces for stormwater management.

Simms also won support from area councillor Anne Moran, who previously proposed that the council allow fake grass on verges.

“I think when I originally proposed it there was a line in the paper that said ‘plastic Moran’, so I am glad to see that we are now getting rid of it,” she said.

“It (fake grass) has been massively out-dated by much better landscaping techniques.”

But central ward councillor Jessy Khera expressed concern for residents who “have difficulty to set up watering on verges”.

“This (artificial turf) may be something that makes life easier for them,” he said.

In May, Marion Council revoked a decision to allow artificial turf on verges following condemnation from environmentalists and locals.

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