Buffalo skyway

Summary

The Alpine Shire in north eastern Victoria is proposing a plan for a chairlift to the top of Mount Buffalo, one of the state’s most significant national parks. If successful, this project would have a significant and negative impact on the iconic reserve and set a worrying precedent for major new developments within the national park estate.

Updates

[August 8,2010]

Alpine Shire Council has accepted the final report of a study into the viability of the skyways system on Mt Buffalo.
According to reporting in the Bright Observer newspaper:

“After some nine months of community consultation, data collection and compiling, the report was submitted to council on June 30 and officially received at its August general meeting”.
Taskforce chair, Sabine Helsper, said the future of the project now rested with council.
Recommendations included passing on the information to tenderers of the Mt Buffalo Chalet and investigating the possibility of changing legislation to allow for a 99-year lease on the mountain.
Full report here.

[update 26/6/2010]

After the current round of community forums, a final report is due to go to Alpine Shire by June 30, who will then consider what to do next. We have until June 16 to provide opinions to Council about the project – please see below for details.

I will update this as new information comes to hand. Please scroll down to find earlier postings.

[update 26/5/2010]

Buffalo skyways final “Open House” Information & Feed Back Session

Wednesday June 16, 2010 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Alpine Visitor Information Centre, Bright, Victoria

Public open house session.

This is your last opportunity to voice your support or concerns for this project, which has been proposed for the Buffalo Plateau in north eastern Victoria. Everyone is welcome to visit and comment. If you can’t attend, please send your thoughts to the Alpine Shire (the proponents for this proposed project) via their contacts page.

In terms of environmental impacts of the projects, here are some that are fairly obvious and which you may want to include in your concerns:

  • Defacement of the Buffalo Plateau with visual scars of the skyway
  • Environmental impacts of various kinds – the roading operation to the base of the skyway, the footprint of the Skyway towers along the route of the skyway, and at the top of the plateau (plus connector road from either end of the skyway to the existing roadway on the mountain). This assumes that the route chosen for the skyway does not begin from the existing Buffalo tourist road. Even if it did have its base on the existing road, it is likely that there would have to be substantial clearing for a car park and buildings to house the terminal and other infrastructure for the skyway at either end.
  • Lack of financial viability of the project and creation of a “white elephant” which may then need to be propped up by public funds.
  • It would set a very negative precedent to allow such a major and intrusive construction inside one of our most important National Parks. You can guarantee that any other, even more destructive proposals for development in our parks that may be put forward in future would get a great boost from being able to cite the example of the Buffalo project.
  • It will be a substantial waste of money, including Alpine Shire funds.
  • It can be expected that weed invasion associated with such a major construction project could be quite considerable.
  • It is not clear whether the project could even be approved under state or federal legislation.

Please send your concerns before June 16.

Copy of Friends of the Earth letter to Alpine Shire Council, May 2010

Dear Alpine Council

I had hoped to be able to attend the final open house session but now have other commitments that day, so the following are some quick thoughts we would like to submit.

In terms of possible environmental impacts of the project, we believe there are some significant issues:

  • There would be substantial visual impacts on the Buffalo Plateau relating to the skyway.
  • There would be environmental impacts of various kinds – especially relating to the roading operations to the base of the skyway, the footprint of the Skyway towers along the route of the skyway, and at the top of the plateau. A significant issue would be if a new connector road was required at the base or top of the skyway to connect with the existing roadway. We realise there are various possible options for a route up the mountain. We have assumed that the route chosen for the skyway would not begin directly from the existing Buffalo tourist road, hence the need for the extra roading operations. If it did leave from the existing road, we cannot imagine that any such route – up through the Gorge or on the north side of the Gorge, over the Big Walk, would be visually acceptable to most people. Even if the project did have its base and high point on the existing roads, it is likely that there would still have to be substantial clearing for a car park and buildings to house the terminal and other infrastructure for the skyway at either end.
  • Lack of financial viability of the project and possible creation of a “white elephant” which may then need to be propped up by public funds.
  • It would set a very negative precedent to allow such a major and intrusive construction inside one of our most important National Parks. You can be certain that any other, even more destructive proposals for development in our parks that may be put forward in future would get a great boost from being able to cite the precedent of the Buffalo project.
  • It will be a substantial waste of money, including Alpine Shire funds.
  • It can be expected that weed invasion associated with such a major construction project could be quite considerable.
  • It is not clear whether the project could even be approved under state or federal legislation.

We do appreciate Council’s efforts to develop tourist infrastructure in the region, but feel that the skyway is an unsuitable, costly and risky venture to undertake when there are so many other lower impact development options that can be pursued.

Your sincerely

Cam Walker

campaigns co-ordinator

Friends of the Earth

[Update, 25/4/2010]
Buffalo skyway proposal – community forums

The Alpine Shire Council  continues to push forward into its investigation about whether the skyway project should proceed (don’t mind the minor details like approvals for a major infrastructure project in a national park, or who is actually going to fund it).

There will betwo information sessions in May:

an “Open House” Information & Feed Back Session on Wednesday May 19, 2010 from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
At the alpine Visitor Information Centre, Bright. Public open house session. Everyone welcome to visit and comment.

and at Appin Park Rotary Club Wangaratta
Thursday May 20, 2010 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
This will be an information and Feedback Session

For full details on the forums please check here.

Interestingly, the ‘media‘ section on the website only contains positive reports on the skyway proposal.

Buffalo on far skyline, The Razorback in foreground

[Letter published in the Bright Observer, April 7, 2010]

It has been interesting to watch the debate around the idea of putting a Gondola up onto the Buffalo Plateau (Gondola gains support, 24/3).

Obviously, from an environmental perspective, there are a range of issues that need to be considered, and the question must be asked – where are the studies that have considered this question? The whole idea seems like it is being put forward the wrong way around – with some people arguing strongly for the project, without having any level of feasibility or impact assessment being done. This hardly bodes well for the development of the project if it did ever get approvals and financing. Unless the gondola went from an existing road to the top of the existing road (very unlikely as that would push it through The Gorge), there will be the requirement for new roading, and associated impacts, at either end of the skyway. This is within one of our most significant national parks.

There are also a range of visual impacts to be considered. But what strikes me as being most strange about all this is the fact that this project is being pushed while the two key tourism infrastructure sites on the plateau (the Chalet and Cresta Valley) are currently not operating. Given that the chalet already has road access and it’s footprint is long established – ie there need be no new impacts to re open it) why are some interests driving debate about a whole new project, which would be very risky for any potential financier, logistically difficult and probably quite damaging? Is this about thoughtful and strategic development of the tourism industry or just an ambit claim that is really going now where but chewing up a lot of resources in the process?

regards
Cam Walker
campaigns co-ordinator
Friends of the Earth

“Chairlift bagged as theme park bid”
The Border Mail, 06 Nov, 2009

One thought on “Buffalo skyway”

  1. Hi Cam I think your website is terrific and very useful for people like me who live in the Alpine Shire. Given that parks Vic management in our area seem to be very tourist orientated I am concerned that they will accommodate something as drastic as a gondola for Buffalo, I’m sure there is an argument that it could compliment the Chalet, even make it more viable for an investor, it would perhaps make connection to the electric grid more likely? (This I think is one of the biggest issues for an investor in the Chalet).

    There has been a bit of ongoing debate in the Alpine Times (local paper) in lets to ed, yours was great thanx for doing that. I have been deliberately out of circulation and to date have failed to make a comment.

    What I’m wondering is if there is a possibility to make contact through your site with like minded people that live in the Shire or are frequent visitors who are interested in a collective effort to pressure the AS, Parks etc? Sorry I have left it so late but we have a few weeks before 30 June
    Cheers Annie (Harrietville)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 133 other followers

%d bloggers like this: