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Mountain Journal

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Central Plateau

Reclaim Malbena

As the long campaign to protect World Heritage Areas from commercial development continues (and in the aftermath of the Federal Court case against the planned ‘helicopter tourism’ development proposed for Lake Malbena on Tasmania’s Central Plateau), a trip has now been planned to visit the site threatened by this proposal.

The Fishers and Walkers Against Helicopter Access Tasmania and the Wilderness Society have organised the camp, which will happen over the weekend of December 7 and 8.

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Approval of Lake Malbena ‘helicopter tourism’ project overturned in the Federal Court

The Wilderness Society (TWS) and Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) have had a win in the ongoing battle over the development of a tourism venture at Lake Malbena in Tasmania’s Central Plateau. The Federal Court has set aside the decision by the federal environment minister Melissa Price that the Wild Drake heli-fishing camp in the World Heritage listed Walls of Jerusalem national park is not a ‘controlled action’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. (A controlled action can avoid full environmental assessment).

The federal government’s controversial decision in August 2018 to allow helicopter flights and huts on Lake Malbena had been challenged in the Federal Court. Earlier this year, TWS sought a judicial review of the Federal Environment Minister’s decision that the Halls Island, Lake Malbena development is “not a controlled action” under the [federal] Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

This is a great outcome.

This decision does not stop the proposal.  It means that the Parks and Wildlife Service cannot grant proper approval of the proposal.  It will now be sent back for proper approvals process under the EPBC Act. Wilderness Society spokesman Tom Allen says the decision had effectively put a stop to the plans that included huts, a communal building, walkways and helicopter flights.

Continue reading “Approval of Lake Malbena ‘helicopter tourism’ project overturned in the Federal Court”

Lake Malbena developer appeals refusal of project

In February this year, the Central Highlands Council in Tasmania rejected the Lake Malbena tourism development.

The controversial ‘helicopter tourism’ development planned for Halls Island in Lake Malbena on Tasmania’s central plateau had previously been approved by state and federal governments. The local Council was the last government authority which needed to sign off on the project. It had been hoped that the rejection by Council would be the end of the proposal.

However, the developer has lodged an appeal against this decision. Hearings are currently underway in Hobart.

Continue reading “Lake Malbena developer appeals refusal of project”

Central Highlands Council rejects tourism development in World Heritage Area

In a significant move, the Lake Malbena tourism development has been rejected by the Central Highlands Council.

The controversial ‘helicopter tourism’ development planned for Halls Island in Lake Malbena on Tasmania’s central plateau had previously been approved by state and federal governments. One of the first acts of the Morrison government was to greenlight a private tourism development with helicopter access in Tasmanian world heritage wilderness against the recommendation of an expert advisory body. The local Council was the last government authority which needed to sign off on the project.

The final vote happened at a packed meeting held on February 26, with three councillors voting for, and six against the proposal.

Continue reading “Central Highlands Council rejects tourism development in World Heritage Area”

Helicopter tourism in the Walls of Jerusalem?

Tasmania is blessed with beautiful and intact landscapes and excellent protection of much of the state. World Heritage Areas and national parks have long been coveted by developers and have been resisted – with varying degrees of success – over the years. The old saying ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom’ is certainly true in a place like Tasmania.

Under the current very pro ‘development’ Liberal government in Tasmania there are no end of proposals for private developments in national parks and other parts of the conservation network (check here for a current list). Mountain Journal has covered some of these, including the cable car planned for kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, the walking track into Lake Geeves in the south west of the state, and the gondola and re-development that is being proposed for the Cradle Valley in the north of the state.

Now a new proposal being pursued which would see helicopter tourism inside the Walls of Jerusalem National Park in central Tasmania.

Continue reading “Helicopter tourism in the Walls of Jerusalem?”

Time for that Tassie trip?

As some forecasters suggested early in the year, 2017 seems to be turning into a less than average and slightly erratic season. The ephemeral joy of winter snow seems even more fleeting than usual this year, with the lesson that you should get out and enjoy it wherever and however you can when it arrives.

The most recent fronts appear to have brought the most snow to the southern mountains of Tasmania, which also got me thinking about the ephemeral wonder of Tassie’s peaks after heavy snow.

Continue reading “Time for that Tassie trip?”

Mersey Forest Road reopens access to Walls of Jerusalem National Park

The Examiner newspaper is reporting that the Mersey Forest Road has re-opened. There is a 1.4 km walk to the start of the Walls track, and access is still not available to the end of the valley (ie the track into Chalice Lake, Arm River, Lee’s Paddock.

Continue reading “Mersey Forest Road reopens access to Walls of Jerusalem National Park”

TAS fires pose threat to high-altitude areas

Lightning strikes lit well over 100 fires across Tasmania in mid January. As of Feb 3, more than 50 are still burning, and there have been significant impacts on townships, especially in the north west and north of the state.

Check here for details on the status of the fires, why they are so destructive, and whether there are links to climate change.

Continue reading “TAS fires pose threat to high-altitude areas”

Old foes team up to preserve Higgs Track

This story by Hilary Burden from The Guardian describes some work being done to restore the famous Higgs Track, which climbs through the Great Western Tiers, across Tasmania’s Central Plateau, towards the Walls of Jerusalem. The context is how people from across the land use divide are finding ways to work together.

The Mountain Huts Preservation Society is collaborating with the NGO Environment Tasmania.

The article says:

“Historically, Mountain Huts and green groups such as Environment Tasmania have been foes, ever since the nationwide environmental movement encouraged the removal of mountain huts. Twenty or 30 years ago, manmade sites of historic significance to local communities in Australia’s high country were deemed to clash with a vision of a totally pristine wilderness.

But times have moved on, the Higgs Track is now part of the World Heritage Area, and the former foes are working together to build a bridge” (in this case a literal one, a bridge over a stream).

Continue reading “Old foes team up to preserve Higgs Track”

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