A boutique development in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park will proceed, with the government and tourism industry hailing the outcome as a win for the State.
The development, at Halls Island on Lake Malbena, had been approved by the State and Federal Governments as part of an Expression of Interest process for the state’s World Heritage wilderness areas.
But the Central Highlands Council voted against it earlier this year following public backlash.
Proponents Simone and Daniel Hackett appealed to the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal, which confirmed that the project was compliant with council planning scheme provisions.
“We are proud of what we have achieved, designing a small scale, sensitive proposal that has passed the highest levels of scientific scrutiny ever applied to an Australia tourism project,” Mr Hackett said.
“The science of the proposal underwent the scrutiny of federal, state and local government assessments and appeals. These scientific, objective assessments have illustrated a higher level of environmental protection than is required of recreational users, and shows that the project can be delivered without any significant impacts on other users or the environment.”
Environmental groups fought against the project because they said it would ruin the wild nature of the area but Mr Hackett said the helicopter access to the site had been greatly exaggerated.
“There will be no commercial operations for 240 days per year, and there will be no helicopter use for 305+ days per year,” he said.
“With a Development Application now approved, we look forward to quickly moving on with the project and delivering a small scale, high value project that protects and celebrates an amazing Tasmanian story: the birthplace of the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Our guests will leave as conservation minded-users, advocates for Tasmania’s wild places, and significant contributors to local jobs and the economy.”
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania CEO, Luke Martin, said that sensible, sensitive and sustainable proposals were important to the future of Tasmania’s vital tourism sector.
“Nature-based tourism is one of Tasmania’s key competitive strengths and we need innovative projects like this that are focussed on the premium market and sensitively developed.
“The Hackett’s are a young Tasmanian couple that have been put through the wringer of intense public scrutiny and planning and legal processes. Now this decision has been made they deserve the opportunity to progress the project, free from personal attacks,” Mr Martin said.
The government said the RMPAT decision was a positive endorsement for the government’s Expression of Interest initiative and would review the full findings of the tribunal.
The EOI process started in 2014 with 37 projects initially put forward for assessment.
Environment, Parks and Heritage Minister Peter Gutwein said it was time for the Greens and Labor to support the initiative.
“Appropriate and environmentally sensitive proposals that showcase and protect
Tasmania’s unique natural values, while delivering real jobs deserve our broad support,” Mr Gutwein said.
“The combined value of all projects in the EOI pipeline is approximately $100 million, and those projects have the potential to create more than 250 full time equivalent jobs.”