Lake Malbena concerns raised
ANGLERS, bushwalkers and the Federal Government’s own heritage advisory body told of their strong opposition to the Lake Malbena luxury tourism development ahead of it receiving the green light.
The bulk of 129 submissions made to the federal Environment Department and released under freedom of information laws expressed serious concerns about the processes that allowed the proposed standing camp with helicopter access in the World Heritage-listed Walls of Jerusalem National Park to proceed to the Commonwealth approvals stage.
The Australian Heritage Council, the Federal Government’s principal adviser on heritage, said the proposal’s buildings, helipads and tracks did not conform to the zoning prescriptions of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area management plan.
It said its “several fundamental concerns” were not ad- dressed in the information received from proponents Daniel and Simone Hackett of Wild Drake.
“The cumulative impact on both World Heritage and natural heritage values would be considerable, particularly noting the impact of helicopters on the outstanding natural aesthetic value of the wilderness area in which it is situated,” the Heritage Council said.
Federal Environment Department assessments and governance deputy secretary James Barker ultimately approved the proposal on behalf of Environment Minister Melissa Price, partly on the grounds that Mr and Mrs Hackett had agreed to a series of measures aimed at mitigating the development’s impact on the surrounding wilderness.
Mr Hackett said his proposal was “tiny” and the management prescriptions and conditions attached to his licence were legally binding.
“There will be no helicopter use for more than 305 days per year or so, and for the remaining days our flight time is restricted to between 18 and 36 minutes use only,” he said.
The proposal would lead to about 120 chopper flights carrying tourists through the Walls of Jerusalem each year, with the flight path mapped to avoid eagles’ nests and walking tracks.
But Mr Barker last week said he was not sure how many flights there would be in total.
Anglers Alliance Tasmania, representing about 27,000 licenced freshwater anglers, said helicopter access would have a significant impact on the “remoteness, silence and connectivity to nature” enjoyed by bushwalking anglers.
Several submissions slammed the State Government’s controversial expressions of interest process, which invited proposals for development in national parks, reserves and Crown Land.
The Tasmanian Fly Tyers Club said there was strong concern within its club that the Lake Malbena proposal would “open the floodgates to future similar proposals whose approvals will have been facilitated and to which objection will become increasingly futile”.
The State Government also came under fire for rezoning the Lake Malbena area from “wilderness” to “self-reliant recreational zone”, a change that would allow for development.
The Central Highlands Council, the final hurdle for Mr and Mrs Hackett, said it had received a development application for the standing camp on Halls Island. Mayor Loueen Triffitt acknowledged public interest in the proposal and said it would be advertised for public comment “in due course”.
The Wilderness Society will challenge the process of approving Lake Malbena in the Federal Court in March.
The Federal Court yesterday listed the one-day hearing for March 26 next year.
It will be held in Melbourne but connected to the Hobart court via video link.