Lake Mal­bena con­cerns raised

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - EMILY BAKER

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.

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