Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Approval of shooters mega-complex a blow to nature conservation

“On Monday Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally approved six shooting ranges and car parking for 200 cars on 1000 hectares of former conservation reserve that adjoins the Heritage listed Nattai Wilderness, the first wilderness to be protected in NSW.

“The Minister's claim that 900 hectares of the shooter's facility will remain for conservation ignores the man-proof fence around the site. The fence will block movement of koalas and most other wildlife along Bargo Fauna Linkage just as much as if the entire site was cleared”, said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The thought of hundreds shooters blasting away at six firing ranges will put everyone else off visiting the adjoining national park entirely,” he said.

“While areas of bushland previously earmarked for proposed shooting ranges are to be added to other national parks, these are not compensation. These proposed shooting ranges on high conservation value lands should never have been contemplated. And somewhere along the line the mooted closure of the existing shooting clubs in the Illawarra dropped off the Minister's media statement ,” said Mr Muir.

“No gains for conservation exist. The current Bargo State Conservation Area only protects a third of the Crown-owned bushland in the Bargo Valley, while scenic areas, like the Mermaid Pool, remains unprotected”, he said.

“Lead from the bullets and shotgun pellets pose a risk to Sydney 's drinking water supplies and the ranges over the years will become a sites for this hazardous waste. Minister Keneally's approval establishes six lead contaminated sites inside mega-shooting facility, located close to the stored waters of Warragamba Dam”, Mr Muir said.

This approval was presumably recommended by former National Party leader, Ian Armstrong, who chaired independent Planning Panel. Why a NSW Labor Government should appoint a dyed-in-the-wool National to consider in an unbiased way the development of a shooting facility next to a World Heritage listed wilderness in the Blue Mountains is a mystery. I doubt that it can be resolved; it's a puzzle bigger than the pyramids of Egypt . The question's so big, it stares you in the face”, he said.

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