The Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) decision of 21 October regarding the proposed helicopter-accessed tourist development at Lake Malbena indicated that it intended to set aside the Central Highlands Council’s refusal to grant a permit but it first required the determination of the conditions to be attached to any development approval.
RMPAT has now declined to consider further submissions relating primarily to the Parks and Wildlife Service’s Reserve Activity Assessment (RAA) of the proposal made on our behalf by the Environmental Defenders Office and, today (18 December 2019), issued its final decision requiring that Council’s refusal of 28 February 2019 be set aside and replaced with an approval subject to conditions set out in this final decision.
While many conditions that the Tribunal has imposed on the permit relate to construction details, they also state:
- No more than 30 return helicopter trips annually for up to 6 guests and 2 guides (with no more than 25 or these during Nov-May), and no more than 10 return flights for servicing and maintenance, are allowed.
- The trips can be 4 days and 3 nights’ duration.
- No bushwalking or other land activities off Halls Island are allowed, apart from foot transit from the helicopter landing site, and the permitted route for this is defined in the conditions. “Fishing and kayaking” on Lake Malbena is permitted.
- No infrastructure is allowed at the helicopter landing site.
RMPAT also issued some minor amendments to the original decision.
While this is a disappointing outcome, the battle is by no means lost. We will be carefully considering the Tribunal’s decision and will be taking advice with respect to our legal options.