Macarthur residents say rampant development is leading to hotter suburbs

Picture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock

Pat and Barry Durman have called Macarthur home for 40 years.

In that time Ms Durman said she has noticed a marked rise in temperature as the years have gone by.

She said last year's summer had been the worst on record.

"We've never had to do this before, but we ended up going to the shopping centre to get away from the heat," Ms Durman said.

"We don't have an air-conditioner because we have never really needed it because of the way our house is built.

"But last summer was just too much."

Community campaigning organisation Sweltering Cities has released a snapshot of results from a survey into heat, health and community impact in Western Sydney.

It found that three quarters of survey respondents had air conditioning, but more than half of air-con owners were concerned about costs which stopped them from turning it on.

Sweltering Cities spokeswoman Emma Bacon said rising temperatures were a public health crisis for western Sydney communities.

"Survey respondents overwhelmingly believe that Sydney is going to get hotter and that politicians and political parties should have policies on heat," she said.

"Rising temperatures are going to have a huge impact on the health of our communities. Western, north-west and south-west Sydney can be up to 10 degrees warmer than the suburbs on the coast.

"Many residents dread the sleepless nights, claustrophobic heat and burning sun of summer heatwaves. Shopping centres, cinemas, libraries and other cool buildings are acting as heat refuges in our city."

More than half of the survey's respondents said the way their suburb was built increased heat.

Ms Durman said newer suburbs across Macarthur were lacking in essential green space and tree cover.

"It's getting hotter - there is no doubt about it," she said.

"Farmland and bushland have a cooling effect on the environment but the more houses we build, the more grey rooftops, the hotter it will get.

"There is no room to plant trees in newer houses because they are so small.

"Without this green space, I think life as we know it will continue to change and it will just keep getting hotter."

And Ms Durman is not alone - in south-west Sydney more than 89 per cent of people surveyed said they were concerned that climate change would make the region hotter.

More than 30 per cent of people surveyed said they would leave their homes to go to a cooler location on hot days or during heatwaves.

Nearly 80 per cent of south-west Sydney respondents said they had trouble sleeping on very hot nights or during heatwaves.

People said it made them 'tired', 'moody', 'lethargic', 'worn out' and 'drained'.

Ms Bacon said survey respondents shared hundreds of great ideas for cooling suburbs.

"Our next step is working with communities to advocate to decision makers and win those changes for a more liveable, sustainable and equitable city," she said.

"Dangerous heat impacts everyone but how you're affected depends on your housing, financial resources, job, and existing health conditions.

"We need more than health advice to stay cool, we need targeted services and infrastructure for people most affected and most at risk."

This story Macarthur residents say rampant development is leading to hotter suburbs first appeared on Camden-Narellan Advertiser.