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Lake Malbena luxury camping project in Tasmania’s wilderness clears federal hurdle

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Lake Malbena luxury camping project in Tasmania’s wilderness clears federal hurdle

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The tourism operators behind plans for a fly-in, fly-out “luxury standing camp” inside a national park in Tasmania’s remote central highlands have welcomed the project’s approval by the Federal Government.

The proposal for a standing camp at Lake Malbena, inside the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, has moved closer to reality following a decision by the federal environment department late last week that the activity would not be a controlled action under the environmental protection and biodiversity conservation act.

Daniel and Simone Hackett, who operate RiverFly1864, want to build a lakeside helipad and walking track at Halls Island in Lake Malbena, as well as accommodation buildings and kitchen and toilet facilities on the island, for a maximum of 30 trips annually for up to six guests at a time.

In a statement, the pair said they welcomed the environment department’s decision, which meant they could now lodge a development application.

“It was important to us to assess our proposal against the highest environmental benchmark in the country, and provide for important public comment and additional scientific input,” Mr Hackett said.

“We aim to develop a world-leading product that engages travellers with one of Tasmania’s great wild places, and this was a crucial step in the processes.”

Premier welcomes Federal Government response

The proposal was put forward as part of the Tasmanian Government’s Expressions of Interest for Tourism Opportunities in National Parks, Reserves and Crown Lands process.

Premier Will Hodgman also welcomed the decision.

“The approval for the Halls Island proposal is further evidence that tourism experiences can be delivered in line with existing environmental laws in our unique wilderness areas,” he said.

“As we have always said, the EOI [expressions of interest] process is about bringing forward sensible and appropriate tourism opportunities which showcase and protect natural and cultural heritage within our parks and reserves.

“It is important to note also that this proposal is consistent with the 2016 TWWHA Management plan.”

However, The Wilderness Society’s Vica Bayley said the proposal was only consistent with the management plan because the plan was changed to accommodate it.

Mr Bayley said he believed the federal environment department’s decision was dubious.

“We’ll certainly write to the federal department and seek a statement of reasons from the Minister as to why this decision was made, what was taken into account and what wouldn’t be taken into account, and then we’ll make some decision from there,” he said.

“We think it’s a weak decision that hasn’t properly taken into account the value of wilderness and the commitments of the Australian Government to protect it.”

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said there needed to be public consultation before any further approvals, and she believed the decision was a mistake.

“We believe there are matters of national environmental significance that should have made this a controlled action, that the impact on wilderness of dozens of chopper landings each year is a matter of national environmental significance,” she said.

“This is a terrible decision. Wilderness is not wilderness if it has helicopters landing in it, three huts, a communal hut. It’s very concerning.”

Source

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-03/lake-malbena-project-gets-federal-go-ahead/10196478

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