Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley has determined that an application for a remote eco-tourism development on Halls Island in Tasmania’s Lake Malbena must be assessed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
The previous Departmental decision found that the proposal to establish a helicopter pad and eco-tourism accommodation on the tiny, remote island in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, was unlikely to significantly impact matters of national environmental significance.
The proposed development has attracted considerable public complaint and legal challenge, resulting in the Minister needing to determine if the matter needs to be subject to a formal federal assessment.
“While acknowledging the Department’s 2018 determination (accepting submissions from Wild Drake Pty Ltd that this was not a controlled action) and its current advice, I have determined that the likely impacts to the unique values of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) warrant a formal assessment,” Minister Ley said.
“This decision does not pre-determine an outcome, but it does ensure a detailed assessment is made and all possible impacts on the TWWHA are considered.
“Under both the current EPBC Act and under our proposed streamlining of approval processes, the Commonwealth maintains, as a signatory to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, responsibility for ensuring the protection of World Heritage Values, just as it will ensure that binding national standards underpin environmental decisions in the future.”
The EPBC Assessment will commence immediately and will involve further public consultation before a decision is made whether or not to approve the proposal.
Developer Daniel Hackett and wife Simone — operating as Wild Drake — had applied to build the standing camp on Halls Island. The proposal would have four demountable huts sit on the island to be accessed by up to 240 helicopter flights per year.