News of plans for a farmers’ market at Walka Water Works has been met with concern for the many birds that nest at the site of Maitland’s old water supply.
Wedged between the Dungog rail line, rural residential lots and the expansion of Aberglasslyn, avid bird watcher and photograher Jim Thomson wants the grounds made off limits to commercial use.
Mr Thomson said the noise of 1000 people attending the markets would disrupt great-crested grebes, black-shouldered kites and plovers that have found sanctuary within the grounds.
“Birds are sensitive to noise,” Mr Thomson said.
“If the city is going to expand then we need to protect areas like that or the birdlife will leave.”
Kevin Eade has held discussions with the Walka facilities advisory committee to run a fortnightly farmers’ market at the site, with up to 100 stalls.
Mr Eade scaled back earlier plans for a larger market to avoid negative impacts and to placate neighbouring landholders.
“It won’t be anywhere near as big as the Newcastle markets,” he said.
But Mr Thomson said the area should be preserved for family picnics.
“The Walka committee should have a look at Blackbutt [Reserve] and see the outstanding job done by Newcastle council,” he said.
“You would never imagine holding something like this at Blackbutt, so why would you even consider Walka?”
Catherine Blanch, operator of the Maitland Markets and proponent of a “harvest market”, had flagged her intention to use the Maitland Showground.