Lake Malbena – appeal to the Supreme Court – a win!

The decision in our appeal against proposed helicopter-accessed visitor accommodation at Lake Malbena, within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, was announced on the afternoon of 15 September 2021. It was a 2:1 majority decision in our favour by the full bench of the Supreme Court (3 judges).

This is the latest episode in the campaign against this unacceptable development. See here for our summary of the whole saga.

The ruling sets aside both the outcome of our initial appeal to the Supreme Court (considered by only one judge) and the original decision of the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) to grant a permit for the proposal.

It requires RMPAT to consider whether the proposal complies with the “prescriptive requirements” of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan 2016.

The ruling vindicates the substantial amount of effort required to mount this legal challenge. Our thanks to our fellow parties to the appeal; The Wilderness Society (Tasmania), Richard Webb and Paul Smith; and our legal team; Claire Bookless and Nicole Sommer (Environmental Defenders Office) and counsel Juliet Forsyth SC and R Muchinguri.

The way ahead is not entirely clear. Wild Drake has 28 days to seek leave to appeal this decision to the High Court. If they do not, there are some practical questions to resolve around the RMPAT’s reconsideration of its decision. The original hearings were conducted in mid-2019. There may be some opportunity to remind the members of the tribunal of the key points of evidence, assuming that all the original members of the tribunal are available.

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