Monday 21 October 2019
The Tasmanian National Parks Association and Wilderness Society Tasmania have today responded to the decision of the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal in relation to the appeal against the refusal of a planning permit by the Central Highlands Council for a helicopter-accessed luxury tourism proposal on Halls Island, Lake Malbena, inside the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
“We are pleased to have won on two significant jurisdictional points. However, we are disappointed that the tribunal has found that it isn’t required to assess the proposal against the management plan, and has not assessed the negative impact it will have on wilderness,” said Wilderness Society Tasmania’s Tom Allen.
“We are pleased to have won on the jurisdictional point made by the Attorney-General, which makes clear that the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act does apply to reserved land. We are also pleased to have won on the Appellant’s point that the tribunal does not have scope to consider impacts on matters of national environmental significance in the context of the EPBC Act. The tribunal has made clear that the state law can operate with the EPBC Act.
“Our case was that the planning scheme was clear, it required the tribunal to assess the development against the management plan, having regard to the evidence as a whole. This is why we led evidence that demonstrated the impacts that the proposal would have on wilderness,” said Mr Allen.
“The tribunal has taken a narrow view on this point.
“The tribunal found all that is required is for a Management Plan to exist and that a Reserve Activity Assessment has been completed by the Parks and Wildlife Service up to stage seven. This means that the tribunal doesn’t believe it can assess the impacts on wilderness and has instead deferred to the RAA process entirely.”
Tasmanian National Parks Association president Nick Sawyer said the decision means wilderness impacts will not be considered by an independent body.
“This highlights the importance of getting the RAA process right and why we have always taken issue with it. The RAA doesn’t provide for public notice and appeal rights, in this case it didn’t assess wilderness impacts. This decision means that those wilderness impacts will not be considered by an independent body,” said Mr Sawyer.
“This could be the last case that considers a proposed developed on reserved land because the statewide planning scheme will automatically defer to the RAA process and local councils and the communities they represent won’t get a look in.”
The appeal is still before the tribunal, which will hear the parties’ submissions as to the conditions that should be imposed on the planning permit. The Council is to file draft conditions in 14 days and each party is afforded 14 days to file a response. There is a right of appeal. We are looking closely at the decision and considering our options.