The Mt Hotham Draft Master Plan has been released for public comment until September 12.

It maps how the resort management would like to see the ski resort develop in coming years. It proposes the creation of a series of ‘activity hubs’ in different parts of the resort, including a substantial increase in the footprint of infrastructure on the south eastern side of the resort in the snow gum forests that stretch towards the township of Dinner Plain.

There are some worrying suggestions in the plan relating to a potential expansion of ski runs and associated infrastructure into three new areas adjacent to the existing resort. All of these (identified as ‘areas to be investigated’) would see destructive development in sensitive alpine environments.

One of the areas earmarked for 'investigation' for expansion of the resort: Eagle Ridge, with the Pink Hamberg Spur in the background.
One of the areas earmarked for ‘investigation’ for expansion of the resort: Eagle Ridge, with the Pink Hamberg Spur in the background.

Let us be clear: Mt Hotham already has a large physical footprint, and within the existing ski areas there has been major habitat clearance and fragmentation, roading, chair lifts and extensive associated infrastructure, and grooming of vegetation and introduction of weeds. The current resort has modified a large proportion of the head waters of Swindlers Creek. The three areas identified for investigation for new ski development are in previously untouched catchments – west towards the Razorback ridge in the Upper Diamantina, and two options South of the existing resort into the Upper Dargo river system.

In ecological terms, it is simply unacceptable for Mt Hotham resort management to be suggesting that it should be able to clear and impact on significant new areas of alpine habitat in this manner.

Please send comments to the Hotham management board expressing your concerns about any plan to allow for new areas to be developed.

You can find the draft plan here.

You can send your comments to masterplan@mthotham.com.au

Possible submission

I wish to provide some comments on the draft Mt Hotham Draft Management Plan

I am deeply concerned by the suggestion that resort management should be investigating the possibility of expanding the physical footprint of its operations into new catchments.

I strongly oppose any expansion of ski runs and infrastructure like ski tows into the Diamantina or Upper Dargo catchments.

The resort already dominates the upper Swindler catchment and has fragmented and transformed the entire area. The environmental impacts of any expansion into new catchments would result in further fragmentation of alpine areas and snow gum woodlands. It is difficult to imagine that privately owned land exist to be able to offset the likely loss of alpine environments. State legislation would require ‘same for same’ protection of a similar size of area to that which will be destroyed.

The report also proposes a substantial expansion of facilities at Wire Plain and Whisky Flat. It proposes accommodation development and infrastructure which will result in destruction of snow gum woodland in new sections of the Swindler catchment. It suggests the possible re-routing of sections of the Great Alpine Road, which would require substantial engineering work which can be expected to impact on sections of the Upper Dargo River.

I am disturbed that there is no reference to the reality of climate change in the management plan, and almost no reference to environmental sustainability. Previous suggestions that renewable energy could be generated on site to help power resort operations appear to have disappeared. Given that the draft plan seeks to frame future development of the Hotham resort, it is strange that it ignores the likely future impacts of climate change on snow fall, water availability (which is important in terms of the resorts ability to make artifical snow), or the threat of longer and more intense fire seasons. Any new ski developments would be very expensive because of the steep nature of the terrain to be investigated. Would this expense be warranted given the reality of climate change and its likely impacts on the snow base?

In its current form, it is difficult to see the draft plan as anything less than an attempt at a land grab by resort management. Surely there are smarter and less damaging ways to enhance the skiing and boarding experience for people visiting the resort.

Please add your name and contact details and any other comments you wish to make. If you visit Hotham or have any other connection to the resort please add details on this.

Please send your comments by Sept 12.