Wilderness war set to break out
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.