In a decision that will offend and appal conservationists across South Australia, the State Government’s State Planning Commission has approved luxury private accommodation in the heart of Kangaroo Island’s iconic Flinders Chase National Park.
The decision was made last night behind closed doors without any member of the public being allowed to make a submission or to comment. The Commission’s Assessment Panel (SCAP) only heard from the developer and refused to consider any objections.
“When it comes to protecting the environment, the planning system is stacked against the community and in favour of private developers”, said Greens MLC and environmental lawyer, Mark Parnell.
“Hacking kilometres of new roads and tracks into the wilderness to build luxury private accommodation in the heart of a National Park is completely unacceptable when so many alternative options are available. Conservationists have consistently called for these developments to be located away from the wilderness coast and closer to existing camping areas and existing access tracks. Preferably, they would be outside the Park or on cleared or degraded sites.
“Even those areas that are most special and most deserving of protection (such as National Parks) are fair game under this Government. The Government pays lip service to the environment but its real agenda is privatisation and development at any cost. To rub salt into the wound, the developer has been handed over $900,000 of taxpayers’ money to facilitate their environmental vandalism.
“With the capitulation of the State Planning Commission, conservationists now have no choice but to take the matter to Court. As well as being bad for the environment, the project is very likely illegal on several levels, not least of which is the failure of the Minister for Environment to follow his own Management Plan for the National Park. In anticipation of the decision, the community has been raising funds for a legal challenge. I expect even more will be raised following this awful decision”, said Mark Parnell.
Construction is unlikely to start any time soon because the developer still needs to get approval from the Native Vegetation Council and also the Federal Environment Department given there are 47 nationally-listed threatened species known to exist in the area.