Friends of the Great Western Tiers kooparoona niara Inc., the Tasmanian National Parks Association and The Wilderness Society today called for the Tasmanian Government to approach with caution any attempts by the Kentish Rifle Club to obtain funding for their proposed rifle range on Maggs Mountain.
Spokesperson Deb Lynch said that: “The proposed rifle range would be across valley from the iconic Walls of Jerusalem Track and the Arm River Track in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA). It would sit near the top of Maggs Mountain at an elevation of about 900 m and the sound would likely carry across valley to the walking tracks which are at a similar elevation.”
“The government is obliged to protect the values of the World Heritage Area. There have been no definitive tests to establish the level of sound that would be heard in the TWWHA,” Deb Lynch said.
Most of the TWWHA within which the noise could be audible is zoned Self-Reliant Recreation. The TWWHA Management Plan’s Self-Reliant Recreation Zone aims to:
- conserve natural and cultural values in an area subject to low-level, but potentially significant, recreation use;
- maintain, as far as possible, characteristics of remoteness and isolation; and
- retain a largely unmodified natural setting for a challenging experience that meets the needs of a relatively low number of self-reliant recreation users.
Hearing rifle shots is incompatible with conservation of natural and cultural values and detracts from characteristics of remoteness and isolation and an unmodified natural setting.
Further, we have been advised by an environmental noise consultant that some sensitive users may be seriously disturbed by the sound of gunfire while on the walking tracks:
Firing ranges are best located within enclosed valleys for safety from overshoots, containment of the lead waste, and to confine noise from neighbouring receivers as best as possible.
Tranquillity and isolation from unnatural noise is increasingly a scarce and precious experience, and thus one of the significant values of the World Heritage/National Park areas surrounding the proposal under consideration.
On calm days the noise level on the plateau in the TWWHA is likely to be in the low 20s measured as dB(A). In a natural haven setting, this is an extremely low threshold for any unnatural insult (sound) to be noticeable, intrusive and annoying to receivers.
More particularly the sound of gunshots imposes a sense of danger and dread to many people, exacerbated for sensitive people, for example who may be suffering from PTSD.
One should note that a noise insult may be audible and intrusive even if the measured value at a receiver falls below the ambient noise level.
Gunshot noise at any audible level is not compatible with the TWWHA, with the possible exception of management eradication of feral animals as a rare and last resort.
These walking tracks attract many visitors and associated economic activity. “Do we want to risk losing the benefits that these walking tracks in the TWWHA offer?” Deb Lynch said
Further, we call on Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT) to reconsider its lease for the proposed rifle range. This is an opportunity for STT to demonstrate its commitment to environmental protection.
We congratulate the Meander Valley Council for refusing the development application.