Study cleared lake camp
FEDERAL Environment Minister Melissa Price’s delegated decision to not stand in the way of the lake Malbena tourist camp in the Central Highlands was based on a detailed assessment of World Heritage values, government documents reveal.
The documents obtained by the Gazette under freedom-of -information laws reveal how Ms Price’s department determined that measures aimed at minimising the impact of the development were sufficient.
The advice was light on detail about the number of helicopter flights in and out. But it clearly advised the green light be given.
It failed to mention the proposed project would have at least 120 helicopter flights through the area each year.
The minister’s 16-page decision briefing noted the proposed standing camp development at Lake Malbena within the Walls of Jerusalem National Park was “locally contentious” but recommended the project receive the green light.
Advice from the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council against the project was not referenced.
But the document set out in detail why the federal department considered the proposed development would not breach federal environmental laws.
That was because proponents Daniel and Simone Hackett had agreed to measures aimed at minimising the impact on wildlife, vegetation and the World Heritage Area’s cultural and natural criteria, it said.
The initial referral decision brief, obtained by the Mercury, said Launceston developers Daniel and Simone Hackett proposed 30 trips a year to Halls Island on Lake Malbena.
A document separate to the decision brief clarified this would be 60 to 120 flights.
A Parks and Wildlife Service staffer raised concerns helicopter use could negatively affect the wilderness recreational experience of “many other users.
The Wilderness Society will fight the federal government’s decision to approve the Lake Malbena development in the Federal Court. A procedural hearing is listed for next week.
The Commonwealth’s August 31 approval means Mr and Mrs Hackett’s final hurdle on the high-end development will be the Central Highlands Council.