The Tasmanian Conservation Trust recently issued a media statement accusing the state government of scraping the 2009 draft management plan for the Seven Mile Peninsula and abandoning a proposed community steering committee in favour of a Ralphs Bay–style exclusive deal, to develop a golf course and resort for the peninsula. The development also seems to defy the recommendations of a 2008 government-funded consultant’s report which ‘rules out development over most of the peninsula’.
In response to numerous competing development proposals for the area, including a major sand mine, the state government produced the preliminary September 2008 Seven Mile Peninsula Management and Development Strategy (Seven Mile Peninsula Strategy). One of the key recommendations of the strategy was to develop a management plan for the peninsula immediately, including a rehabilitation plan. The management plan was to be developed with full public consultation and to define the kind of development that could take place on the peninsula and balance this with protecting the area’s natural and recreational values.
In March 2009 the state government informed the TCT and the Seven Mile Beach Coastcare Group that a draft management plan for Seven Mile Beach Peninsula had been developed and invited the TCT to join for a steering committee to oversee its implementation.
The draft management plan for the Seven Mile Peninsula has never been publicly released or completed and the community consultation committee has never eventuated.
In scrapping the management plan and consultative committee, the government has abandoned the principles of transparency and balance and again seems intent on striking an exclusive deal with a big company (the Matthew Goggin Foundation) to develop public land.
The government is putting the development of an exclusive resort ahead of the interest of the many people who enjoy the area for walking, horse riding, orienteering, cycling, dog walking and picnics.
Unless the government can provide explanations, the general public would be entitled to believe that the current development proposal is linked to the government’s decision to scrap the management plan and community consultation process.
The TCT is not against development of the Seven Mile Peninsula and a golf course might be acceptable, but without a management plan there are no rules to place limits on how big the golf course can be, where it can be constructed and how it may restrict other uses.
Another key document which, to our knowledge, has never seen the light of day is the June 2007 report Strategic Land Use and Development Study for the Seven Mile Peninsula, produced for the state government by consultant Robert Luxmoore. According to the government’s strategy, this report ‘rules out development over most of the peninsula’ (Seven Mile Peninsula Strategy, p11).
If the government is interested in a balanced and transparent approach to development of public land, it should publicly release the consultant’s report which advised against development of the Seven Mile Peninsula. The community deserves to see the report and have the government explain why its recommendations appear to have been ignored.
The licence issued to the Matthew Goggin Foundation should be revoked immediately and no other licences issued until the management plan is finalised and the Luxmoore consultant’s report is publicly released.
The state government must answer these key questions:
- Why was the management plan drafted and then not finalised?
- Why was the community invited to participate in a steering committee that never eventuated?
- Why has a consultant’s report which was critical of the development potential of the area never been released?