Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Highlands Shooters’ resort would set a bad precedent

“The NSW Government should pull back from making a bad precedent in political deal making.  Using legislation to cut a very large hole in a public conservation reserve for a large shooting complex will prove to be a cynical and unnecessary exercise.  Conservation reserves should be permanently protected and alternatives would exist that enable such facility to be better located elsewhere”, said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

According to Tourism Minister, Sandra Nori “funds for the regional shooting complex development have been allocated through the Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation's Shooting Club Development Fund. The total site (comprising 1000 ha) would allow future development possibilities to incorporate other shooting disciplines” (Hansard 1 March 2006). “It appears that the shooters lobby is not just building a gun club but a political stronghold in the Southern Highlands in bushland near Hilltop,” Mr Muir said.

“By setting this precedent, the Tourism Minister, Sandra Nori has opened the door to inappropriate developer schemes in parks, such as other exclusive facilities, resort hideaways and who knows what else,” said Mr Muir.

Challenge issued to the Minister Nori

Mr Muir said “The Department of Environment and Conservation’s Revocation of Land Policy specifies that the excision of reserves should be “an avenue of last resort”, done only “in exceptional circumstances” and where there are “no suitable alternative sites available outside NPWS lands” (July 2002).  The Colong Foundation calls on the Minister for Tourism, Sandra Nori to make public the environmental impact assessment and site selection documents that demonstrate compliance with this policy.”

“No information has been provided regarding any alternatives outside national parks and drinking water catchments.  The site chosen for the large shooters complex would pose a serious risk of lead contamination to Sydney’s drinking water supplies.  The Minister Nori’s speech states that Hon. John Tingle MLC of the Shooters Party facilitated the site selection process that identified the Bargo State Conservation Area as the site for the shooters complex”, Mr Muir said.

“Alternatives, such as the location of this facility in the extensive pine forests of the Southern Highlands should have been considered.  A complex of seven shooters facilities could be more compatible with the Belanglo State Forest. The logging operations in the pine forest could work around the complex.  The forest is close to both the Hume and Illawarra Highways, better meeting the needs of shooters from further a field,” he said.

“The Belanglo and other possible alternatives that protects our water supplies and conservation reserves should be considered and Minister Nori should withdraw her legislation until these avenues are investigated”, Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)