We have been raising concerns about the 37km of mountain bike (MtB) tracks proposed for the slopes of kunanyi/Mt Wellington in Riding the Mountain, and in particular a range of planning issues, since May 2020. These concerns are explained in our report which can be downloaded below.
This has led to several meetings with elected members of Hobart City Council (HCC) and council staff to raise specific concerns about the adequacy of the public consultation and the environmental assessment. We have generally received a good hearing, but our concerns have not been addressed. The Development Application (DA) for the construction of the first four tracks proposed in Riding the Mountain has recently been approved despite a representation from TNPA, a presentation by TNPA to HCC’s Planning Committee, and a site visit facilitated by TNPA in which two members of the Planning Committee met local Fern Tree residents to see and discuss sites of known user conflict.
The HCC’s Protecting Our Wild Heart; an Action Plan for Hobart’s Bushlands identifies habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation as the number one threat to biodiversity loss but this issue is barely mentioned in the HCC’s assessment of the track impacts. The cumulative impact of the multiple tracks proposed in Riding the Mountain is a major concern but this will not receive due consideration if each track is only to be assessed individually as in this DA.
While we support the consideration of some additional mountain bike tracks to provide better opportunities for local riders, this consideration needs to include a full assessment of their impacts on natural and cultural values, and consequences for the numerous existing non-cycling users of Wellington Park. There is no evidence that any such planning exercise has been undertaken. Riding the Mountain amounts to turning the lower slopes of kunanyi into a mountain bike park which is both impractical and inappropriate.
The Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA) has long called for the preparation of a Recreation Strategy for kunanyi/Mt Wellington (for example, see here). This would have provided an appropriate context for addressing the needs and desires of mountain biking. Nevertheless, the TNPA supports the consideration of some additional mountain bike (MTB) tracks to provide better opportunities for local riders (see here) but this consideration needs to include a comprehensive assessment of their impacts on natural and cultural values, and consequences for the numerous existing non-cycling users of Wellington Park. There is little evidence that an appropriately comprehensive planning exercise has been undertaken. Riding the Mountain (the HCC’s plan for 37 km of new MTB tracks on the lower slopes of kunanyi) amounts to turning the area into a mountain bike park which is both impractical and inappropriate.