Mercury (Hobart)

RIDING ROUGH-SHOD

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LAST Monday the Hobart City Council Planning Committee agreed to the constructi­on of three new mountain bike tracks in the foothills of kunanyi’s eastern face.

Council has called these tracks: Free Wheel’n, Rocky Wheel’n and Skid Road – names it claims are respectful to the natural and historical features of the face. What a joke.

The recommenda­tion goes to the full council for approval on Monday. These tracks are part of council’s Riding the Mountain plan for 20 new mountain bike tracks covering 37km in the foothills.

This plan has received very little publicity, except among mountain bike riders. Keeping it quiet makes a lot of sense for the council because the public consultati­on process was woefully inadequate. Walkers and runners were largely left out.

The “community engagement” process is documented in council records. The great majority of those consulted were mountain bike riders drawn from an email list council officers developed for the 2018 Missing Link survey.

Furthermor­e, in pushing ahead with this plan, council has ignored its own policy on how it must protect kunanyi’s natural values detailed in Protecting Our Wild Heart: An action plan for Hobart’s Bushlands (September 2019).

That plan clearly states that habitat fragmentat­ion and degradatio­n are key threats.

Councillor­s are very busy people reliant on expert advice from council staff members.

Deputation­s, including my own, calling for the plan to be sent back to the drawing board, were made to last Monday’s meeting and were ignored. I call upon the council’s CEO, Kelly Grigsby, to investigat­e this matter as soon as possible.

A call to council: Please welcome all to the table to talk about kunanyi’s future, including representa­tives of the Aboriginal community, council officers, councillor­s, walkers, runners, mountain bike riders and, most importantl­y, organisati­ons concerned with protection of kunanyi’s natural and cultural values.

Jane Wilson

Kingston

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