Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dam Proposed for World Heritage Area

I thought building dams in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (WHA) was dealt with by the Australian High Court on 1st July 1983.

According to a Tasmanian Times article this week and this month's Meander Valley Council (MVC) agenda, we're going back to the future!

Maps and diagrams included in the council agenda show the power station (4 shipping containers), pipeline, access road, maintenance road and weir are all to be built within the WHA.  Has no one realised this?

It was passed at the MVC meeting earlier this month.  The appeal deadline for the decision is this Friday 31st July.  What jurisdiction does a local council even have over development within the WHA?

Q: Who ultimately has jurisdiction over development in the WHA?
A. Meander Valley Council
B. Tasmanian Government
C. Australian Government
E. All of the above

[Edit 29/7/15 - I contacted the MVC planner and he made a few interesting points:
* MVC were aware of WHA listing
* The application goes back to 2012, before the WHA extension
* Development within the WHA has to meet other government approvals which are outside Local Government scope
* The planner pointed out this part of the WHA is still zoned Timber Production - He has friends in high places there.  UNESCO's WHA Committee also pointed out the inappropriate reservation status of sections of the WHA when they rejected the government's draft management plan.]

While I could be proven wrong, I'm quietly confident the charts below clearly show the whole box n dice to be within the WHA.  They also show the pipeline and maintenance road nonchalantly crossing a 40 metre high cliff near the intake weir (which amusingly looks 80 metres high on their map as they have labelled their contours incorectly!).  The documents don't seem to indicate how they manage to achieve this with "minimal surface disturbance."

I'm willing to concede this is a very small corner of the WHA and one which has been disturbed by past logging activities.  However, there are principles at stake.

Principle 1. These disturbed areas were added to the WHA in 2013 as part of the forest industry-supported peace deal for a reason.  In this case the WHA extension provides a buffer around the main walking track leading to the stunningly beautiful Walls of Jerusalem.  One would hope the buffer would protect against development such as that which has been proposed.

Principle 2. Is this the kind of commercial development the current government is seeking for the WHA?  There are many streams inside the WHA which would be great for RET-induced micro hydro schemes.  Perhaps we could get a few micro coal mines re-established on those coal seams near Mt Ossa and Barn Bluff.  Oh no!  The R in RET stands for renewable.  Oops!

Now that I'm starting to get sarcastic it's probably time to stop writing and see if anyone reads my little rant and shares my concerns.


Tim said...

Hey tastrekker (CG),

This is quite concerning. I might flick it to a few friends. What do you suggest we do??

tastrekker said...

Thanks Tim. Sure, flick it around a few people and see what comes back. I've had a chat to the council planning officer who dealt with it and will insert a few comments in the blog article to explain what he said. I've also contacted an MHA who sounded interested.

Jarvo said...

Once people have a foot hole to develop inside WHAs it can start a snowball effect. Not to mention these to rivers offer some of Tasmania's best and most challenging white water to paddle.