Mercury (Hobart)

Cable car bills soar


THE bid for a cable car to the top of kunanyi/Mt Wellington has cost Hobart ratepayers close to $250,000 … and counting. New figures show the price of assessing the developmen­t applicatio­n had cost the Hobart City Council $240,000 in external consultant fees alone.

The finance committee figures do not include hundreds of hours spent by council officers and councillor­s considerin­g the project. Councillor Mike Dutta, who sought out the figures, described the costs as “quite extravagan­t”.

THE Mount Wellington Cable Car saga has cost ratepayers a quarter of a million dollars and counting, according to the latest figures from Hobart City Council.

Assessing the developmen­t applicatio­n cost more than $240,000 in external consultant­s, not even factoring in the hundreds of hours spent by council staff and councillor­s.

The finance committee figures came in response to probing from councillor Mike Dutta, who wanted to know just how much ratepayer money had been spent on the rejected proposal.

“For us to spend nearly a quarter million dollars of ratepayers’ money is quite extravagan­t,” Mr Dutta said.

“It’s not a cheap process. Perhaps it’s time that we came up with a policy where developers of this nature should contribute to the cost.”

He warned that ratepayers were poised to fork out even more, with the cable car company taking the council to a tribunal in an attempt to overturn its rejection.

The total legal fees will depend on how far the matter escalates and whether it ends up before the court or a full-blown hearing.

Mayor Anna Reynolds said the legal costs could easily end up being in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“There will be major legal costs associated with the tribunal process,’’ she said.

“It will probably be more than the amount we’ve already spent.

“Major legal processes are expensive, even though the tribunal is not a full court of law.”

Council is not the only group bearing significan­t legal costs, with the Residents Opposed to the Cable Car group also joining the legal battle.

So far it has raised $90,000 for legal costs through pub trivia nights and online crowdfundi­ng, with more fundraisin­g events planned.

ROOC spokesman Vica Bayley said the appeal would “cost a fortune”, but the group was determined to oppose the developmen­t.

“Given the scale and scope of the grounds of refusal, we had hoped the proponent would abandon its obsession with a cable car on kunanyi and leave the community to enjoy its mountain with its many special values intact,” Mr Bayley said.

“We respect the right of the proponent to appeal and, as a joined party, we too have rights including the ability to bring forward additional grounds we believe the cable car fails when assessed against management and planning rules.”

The Mount Wellington Cableway Company declined to comment.

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