Mountain Journal has previously reported on the plans to build a “Buller Stirling Link Rd” between the two mountains. It has been argued by the proponent (Mt Buller Resort Management) that the road will provide a second escape route off the mountain should a bushfire or land slide close the main road from Mirimbah to Mt Buller. There has been the argument that a link road will encourage more tourists in the ‘green season’ as it is sometimes argued that tourists don’t like going up a dead end road (this argument was used in the unsuccessful campaign to put a road in from the Baw Baw village and across the Baw Baw plateau).
The fire escape argument never really stacked up. Given the proposal was for a new road cutting across a steep and forested slope, the economic and environmental costs of the road were going to be significant. There is already a road connecting the two mountains, which could simply be upgraded to improve access if this was the reason for the proposal.
We have received the good news that the proposal has been rejected by the Victorian Government. This is a welcome example of common sense planning on public land. It is also a decision that paves the way for Mt Stirling to become part of the Alpine National Park.
The Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) has opposed the road since first hearing of the planning application in 2010. They say they discovered the existence of the proposal “largely by accident”. Since then the VNPA has been unable to find any evidence of public consultation regarding the road and, although a business case was prepared in May 2011, it has never been released to the public nor been included in publicly available planning documents for Mt Buller.
VNPA notes that “we have also been concerned at the apparent lack of fire management or emergency plans mentioning the road, no visual impacts study and no detailed geo-technical studies on the steep landslide-prone slopes the road would cut across”.
The VNPA is now calling on the Victorian Government to:
- Convert the Mt Stirling Alpine Resort into a national park, giving it the level of protection it deserves.
- Join Mt Stirling to the Alpine National Park by adding the adjacent area of state forest to the national park.