As Tasmania continues to bask in its recent national tourism success, a $54 million project is being expedited to ensure record visitor numbers have extra reasons to spend more time in Hobart.
The controversial Mount Wellington Cable Car project is being propelled forward, with confirmation the State Government would acquire land to ensure the development can be assessed for approval.
Mount Wellington Cableway Company has been proposing the 4.6km mountain infrastructure since 2010 but has been met with opposition from some residents and Hobart City Council aldermen.
It also hasn’t gained final consent from the owners of Cascade Brewery, Carlton and United, for the cable system to start from the grounds of the historic brewery.
But, it says that under the government’s new land plan, it would have a DA submitted to Hobart City Council by the end of the year with hopes of an April, 2020, opening date.
The project includes two key stages;
*The first section would start at Cascade and involve 20, 8-seater Gondolas ferrying visitors 1km into the foothills to a proposed Golden Gully mid-station park, which would include activities such as rope and zip-line courses.
*From the mid-station to the Pinnacle, an “Aerial Tramway” involving two cabins is proposed to traverse 3.5km across Wellington Park to the Pinnacle where new facilities including restaurant and observation centre would be built.
State Growth Minister Matthew Groom said the proposed cable car had the potential to bring significant investment to the state and create new jobs both during construction and once operational.
“Following an independent assessment by an Advisory Committee of the Tasmanian Development Board, the Coordinator-General (John Perry) recommended to Government that the Mt Wellington Cable Car project is a viable business proposition,” Mr Groom said.
“The project hasn’t progressed because of an inability to address land consent issues with the Hobart City Council.
“After careful consideration, the Government has decided to prepare new laws to acquire the public land on kunanyi/Mt Wellington necessary for the project to proceed.
“The Government will retain control and ownership of the land, the new laws will simply allow a cable car proponent to obtain the consent necessary to have the project proceed through the planning process.
“The Government will not be providing any financial contribution to the project and the Mt Wellington Cableway Company will need to secure its own finance for the proposal and enter into agreements with any private land-owners as required.
“The project will still need to attain all planning and other approvals including complying with the regulations that protect our natural environment, heritage and Aboriginal cultural values.”
Details of the proposed new legislation are expected to be soon released for public comment.
Those opposed to the project on the grounds it will affect the area’s natural values and beauty, say they will continue the fight against the development proposal.
Although, those in the lucrative tourism industry are also preparing to fight for the project – to continue the momentum of record visitor numbers, increased levels of world-class cruise liner visits and overall enthusiasm in Hobart as a food, wine and tourism destination.
By Tom O’Meara