News - 01 July 2019

The fight to keep wilderness wild: Tasmania's Lake Malbena

Plans to build luxury huts and a helipad on a serene island in a remote lake in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park are being hotly contested.

Photo: Halls Island in Lake Malbena, Walls of Jerusalem National Park | Grant Dixon

Thanks to you and thousands of others, the Central Highlands Council refused planning permission for Wild Drake's development application for this ludicrous luxury helicopter-tourism proposal earlier this year.

Proponent Mr Hackett and his company Wild Drake are now appealing that decision at the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal (RMPAT).

Last week, the original decision was defended at the RMPAT hearing by the Council and several ‘joined parties’. These included the Wilderness Society and the Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA) plus two individuals.

Expert testimony was presented to the tribunal on the potential ecological, aviation and acoustic impacts of the Wild Drake proposal.  

The Wedge-tailed Eagle subspecies Aquila audax fleayi occurs only in Tasmania, and is distinguished by its size (being Australia's largest bird of prey) and wedge-shaped tail. The total adult population has been estimated as less than 1,000 birds. Principal threats include loss of nesting habitat, nest disturbance, collisions (with artificial structures, vehicles and aircraft), electrocution and persecution.

The hearing will resume on 8-9 August to hear further evidence about wedge-tailed eagles. Our barrister, Juliet Forsyth SC, along with the Environmental Defenders Office of Tasmania (lawyers representing the Wilderness Society and TNPA), will also put forth further legal submissions alongside barristers for the Attorney General, the Director of the Parks and Wildlife Service, the Council and the proponent. 

The Tribunal’s decision is likely to be announced in early September.  

We still await the judge’s decision from our federal court case, where we took the Federal Government to court. The Central Highlands Council case is separate from the Federal Government case, but both are designed to stop the Wild Drake proposal. 

If we are successful, the Walls of Jerusalem National Park and the World Heritage area would be better protected as a result, and set a precedent to protect World Heritage areas from vested interests. 

We would like to thank our legal team who have been outstanding and have served the Wilderness Society brilliantly.

For more information, please contact the Wilderness Society Tasmania on (03) 62811920 or email [email protected].