Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Negotiations Safeguard National Park in Emirates Resort Approval

Combined Media Release 

Following final approval being granted yesterday for the controversial Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort near Lithgow, environment groups cautiously praised final conditions placed on the development and undertakings made by the Emirates.

“The result of negotiations over the last two weeks between environment groups, Emirates and the NSW Government has reduced the impact on the national parks, improved expert oversight of the proposal wildlife sanctuary and protected bushland on resort lands,” said Andrew Cox, Executive Officer, National Parks Association of NSW.

“Emirates showed a genuine openness and willingness to address our concerns. Environment Minister, Phil Koperberg, also played an important role to help broker a way forward and improve conservation outcomes.

“A number of conditions were imposed by the State and Federal Governments and undertakings made by Emirates to protect the environment. The following agreements were secured:

  • Guaranteed public access to Glow Worm Tunnel from the Wolgan Valley and landlocked parts of Gardens of Stone National Park
  • Transfer of Emirates-owned Crown land outside the resort areas to national park
  • Guaranteed base flows to Wolgan River
  • Establishment of an expert panel chaired by DECC to oversee the wildlife conservancy
  • No horseriding in the national park
  • Public consultation on an amendment to the national park plans of management prior to construction of the feral proof fence for the wildlife conservancy that isolates parts of the park
  • A review of public involvement and transparency in future national park leasing processes in NSW.”

“While we opposed the Emirates resort, we believe that we have safeguarded Wollemi and Gardens of Stone national parks and cleared the way to advance Stage 2 of the Gardens of Stone National Park proposal. We also welcome Emirates as a partner in our continuing campaign to secure the park extensions, said Keith Muir, Director, Colong Foundation for Wilderness.”

This Thursday, the Minister for Environment, Phil Koperberg, signed an Agreement for Lease with Emirates Hotels that allowed construction of part of the resort in Wollemi National Park. Last week the Federal Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, gave approval under the Federal environmental legislation. NSW planning approval under Part 3A was granted earlier in the year.

“The controversial Emirates five-star Wolgan Resort was originally approved on private land in the Wolgan Valley, than later moved onto part of the World Heritage listed Wollemi National Park in 2006. NPWS described the arrangement as ‘an extra-ordinary circumstance which is unlikely to be repeated in other national parks in NSW',” said Mr Muir.

“It was extremely disappointing that the NSW planning process under Part 3A failed to address most of these issues.”

“Our experience with this development over the last two years has revealed many lessons about how Government and developers can work with the community when proposing new developments,” conclude Mr Muir.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk); 0412 791 404 (mob)

                                         NPA: Andrew Cox 9299 0000 (w); 0438 588 040 (mob)