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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Kingscliff locals concerned over proposal to remove trees at Merve Edwards Fields for AFL

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‘This community park space is not just used by local sporting teams. On any given weekend you will see families playing, picnicking, and exercising outdoors in and amongst the ovals and lovely shaded native eucalypts. Sporting spectators have enjoyed the shade the trees provide for decades,’ said one local. Photo supplied

The potential of removing trees from the Merve Edwards Fields site at Kingscliff to accommodate the Kingscliff Junior AFL Club has raised concerns of locals and neighbours who say that this is not a proposal they support. 

The proposal will come to the next Tweed Shire Council meeting on Thursday, June 6 and TSC Director Sustainable Communities and Environment, Naomi Searle told The Echo that, ‘No specific work has been agreed to as yet, and any major changes or proposals would need to be put to Councillors for final decision-making’.

‘A Masterplan for Walter Peate (northern side of Wommin Bay Road), Reg Dalton and Merve Edwards fields was developed several years ago to manage the ongoing and future uses of all fields between the above-mentioned clubs as well as Kingscliff Football Club (Wolves) and Tweed Little Athletics.

‘At the time, a decision was made to move Kingscliff Football Club to the Walter Peate fields and to allow the cricket and hockey clubs to develop and utilise Reg Dalton field as a premier, year-round facility and home to both clubs into the future. The Masterplan was implemented, and all projects finalised at the end of 2022 – early 2023.

‘Since the development of the Masterplan, Kingscliff Junior AFL Club has formed, with original agreements for the club to utilise the Merve Edwards field only.

‘Both the cricket and hockey clubs have been very accommodating of the newer AFL club, however, a decision was made by Council to restrict the AFL club from using Reg Dalton field due to major issues around ground use and damage.

The existing Masterplan and investments already undertaken by the cricket club to develop the field into a premier, year-round facility, were also considered.

Following consultation with the clubs, Council officers are currently investigating options to widen Merve Edwards Field to accommodate a full-sized AFL oval, which would allow the AFL club to cater for up to three additional age groups. The existing Masterplan and investments already undertaken by the cricket club to develop the field into a premier, year-round facility, were also considered.

‘Following consultation with the clubs, Council officers are currently investigating options to widen Merve Edwards Field to accommodate a full-sized AFL oval, which would allow the AFL club to cater for up to three additional age groups.’

Locals have pointed out that that there are Bush Stone Curlews at the oval. Photo supplied

Not possible say locals

However, locals who contacted The Echo said they don’t believe the existing site can accommodate three more age groups at that site and they understood that the Kingscliff Junior AFL’s plans for the future are to move to an oval in the new Kings Forest development in part due to the restrictions of this site. 

‘Currently they cater for up to u11’s. They may be able to cater for next age group up which is U13’s the field dimensions need to be 120-185m long x 90-155m wide. From U15’s -U17’s and Seniors it is a full sized field which is 135-185m long x 110-155m wide,’ said one local who asked not to be named.  

‘There is no way, even with bulldozing the hill and trees they will fit a minimum 110m wide field. By widening the field it would only assist to the u13’s. Older ages groups require a full field (dimension above as per AFL QLD) and this is not possible at this site.’

The TSC Draft Sport and Active Recreation Strategy 2023–2033  is ‘currently on public exhibition identifies a dedicated AFL field at Kings Forest, however that is still likely to be some years away,’ said a TSC spokesperson.

Replacing trees 

A spokesperson for TSC said that ‘should a decision be made to accommodate growth at this location, some existing trees may need to be removed. These would be offset with new trees to compensate for the loss.’

It is understood that the proposal is looking at removing trees near the club house and that the fact the grounds are fenced means ther is not a significant issue for local native wildlife in the removal of these trees. 

However, locals have pointed out that there are Bush Stone Curlews at the oval. 

‘Just last night I heard the cries of a family of Bush Stone Curlews at the oval. My wife runs early in the morning always sees them. They inhabit both Merv Edward and Reg Dalton fields and natural environment on this land,’ they told The Echo. 

‘Replacing cut down trees elsewhere does nothing for this special space. The trees are home for many native fauna, our favourites being our local Kookaburras and Black cockatoos. Replanting trees elsewhere will take 20+ years to mature. This goes against the councils “cool towns” policy that is committed to increasing natural shade to in parks and open spaces.’ 

Draft Sport and Active Recreation Strategy

The TSC Draft Sport and Active Recreation Strategy 2023–2033  is ‘currently on public exhibition identifies a dedicated AFL field at Kings Forest, however that is still likely to be some years away,’ said a TSC spokesperson.

‘The expansion of AFL fields at Merve Edwards field will not only cater for AFL’s existing needs but will also benefit cricket and hockey in the future with additional training facilities.

Furthermore, it will add to the open structured space in Kingscliff needed to cater for the increasing population.’

Plenty of fields nearby

One local told The Echo that, ‘given Kingscliff AFL have always planned to move to Kings Forest it would be completely irresponsible and devastating to desecrate the current environment just for a couple of years. 

‘I have children who play a variety of sports. There is no netball court in Kingscliff, no basketball court, no skate park, no 50m pool. We accept that and should someone want to participate in these activities they travel to nearby suburbs. It is a shame we don’t have a full sized AFL field, however, there are existing AFL clubs at Tweed Coast (Cabarita), Banora and Tweed heads / Coolangatta to choose from who do. 

‘This community park space is not just used by local sporting teams. On any given weekend you will see families playing, picnicking, and exercising outdoors in and amongst the ovals and lovely shaded native eucalypts. Sporting spectators have enjoyed the shade the trees provide for decades.’

Your say

You can comment on the TSC Draft Sport and Active Recreation Strategy 2023–2033 online that considers the future of this and other sporting facilities throughout Tweed Shrie here.

If you would like to see the TSC report on the proposal for the Merve Edwards Fields at Kingscliff you will be able to access the staff report when it is uploaded for the June 6 Meeting here. To apply to speak at the meeting during public access you can apply here.


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8 COMMENTS

  1. AFL is the fastest growing junior sport in the Kingscliff Casuarina region so to suggest that this influx of children should just travel to Cooly or Caba to play is not good enough.

    There are most likely more people in the area engaged with the junior AFL club than the cricket club and the hockey club combined and of course the adults will all be voting at council on the availability of public assets for their kids sport and recreation.

    The health of our children and the availability of this public asset for their kids will ultimately outweigh the claims that random citizens who won’t give their names to journalists and there need for trees.

  2. What an ecological disaster waiting to happen, these trees deserve to live, imagine if we decided to come and knock down your home for a football field!

  3. Nearly every AFL field in Australia is a cricket field, so why does the local cricket club have the monopoly on a perfectly useable public space?

    It’s 2024, you can’t be cutting trees down like this.

    • Kingscliff Hockey have Reg Dalton Oval for exclusive use in the winter months, but they play and train out of the purpose build facility in Murwillumbah. They use the oval for the occocaion mid week training session, it’s been vacant on weekends for the past 2 years. Rate payers pay to have it sit unused while local kids have to travel to half an our to use a ground,.

  4. Paul – “The health of our children”???? as if shady places to hang out is not one of THE biggest factors in providing healthy, accessible spaces for a community in an increasingly inhospitable climate??? what parks everywhere need is to plant a few more trees AS WELL as save the big ones.
    cutting the trees down is like cutting the nose off your own face – short sighted!

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