Wilder­ness war set to break out

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - DAVID KILLICK

BUSHWALKERS, fish­er­men and con­ser­va­tion­ists are gear­ing up for a fight over plans for in­creased com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment in Tas­ma­nia’s na­tional parks and wilder­ness ar­eas.

The state’s lead­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal lawyers are pre­par­ing to hold sem­i­nars around the state to help peo­ple un­der­stand how they can best make their feel­ings known.

A sem­i­nar in Ho­bart to be held on Tues­day sold out be­fore be­ing ex­panded and scores more peo­ple are ex­pected to at­tend events in Launceston and Devon­port, said Jess Fee­hely, the prin­ci­pal lawyer at the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fend­ers Of­fice.

She said there was par­tic­u­lar con­cern about plans for a heli-fish­ing camp at Lake Mal­bena in the Walls of Jerusalem, as well as plans to build in­fra­struc­ture for guided walks on the French­mans Cap and the South Coast tracks.

“There’s so lit­tle in­for­ma­tion and it’s so un­clear whether these pro­pos­als are ever go­ing to get through the process,” she said.

“I guess that’s part of the rea­son why there is more push­back now than pre­vi­ously and I think it’s also the scale of some of the pro­pos­als and their lo­ca­tion that have come as a sur­prise to peo­ple.”

The Wilder­ness So­ci­ety’s Vica Bay­ley said few de­tails of projects be­ing con­sid­ered un­der the Gov­ern­ment’s “ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est” process had been made pub­lic.

He said an ex­am­ple of the prob­lems with the process was the fail­ure of the new draft recre­ation zone plan for French­mans Cap to make any men­tion of plans to build pri­vate camps for guided walk­ers — for which the Gov­ern­ment is al­ready ne­go­ti­at­ing li­cences.

“The ab­sence of any dis­cus­sion of the so-called stand­ing camp demon­strates ei­ther a pro­found in­ad­e­quacy of this draft plan or the lack of any cred­i­bil­ity of the EOI as­sess­ment process, or both,” he said.

A gov­ern­ment spokesman said “the Wilder­ness So­ci­ety will never be happy un­less all of Tas­ma­nia’s nat­u­ral ar­eas are locked up and un­able to be en­joyed by any­one”.

“The Wilder­ness So­ci­ety should do their re­search. The so-called ‘se­cret EOI pro­posal’ for a guided French­mans Cap walk has been pub­licly avail­able on the Of­fice of the Co­or­di­na­tor Gen­eral’s web­site for over two years and is cur­rently in the process of ob­tain­ing all nec­es­sary ap­provals.

“As is clearly stated in the draft French­mans Cap Rec- reation Zone plan ‘guided tour prod­ucts op­er­ate on the track. Any fur­ther com­mer­cial pro­pos­als will be sub­ject to the nor­mal as­sess­ment and ap­provals process and would only pro­ceed pro­vided they re­ceived all the nec­es­sary state and Com­mon­wealth ap­provals’.”

TROU­BLE BREW­ING: Walk­ers tak­ing in the view from the French­mans Cap Track, south to­wards lakes Mag­dalen and Mil­li­cent.

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