Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

State Plan Review heralds massive tourist development

The current State Plan Review has proposed massive tourist development with weaker development control. The State’s oldest wilderness protection group, the Colong Foundation, fears this proposed strategy for NSW will target national parks and other environmentally sensitive areas currently protected by ‘red tape’.

“The State Plan Review aims for 25.5 million more visitor nights and an increase in tourist expenditure of $19.2 billion by 2015-16. This massive tourism growth is to be facilitated by performance contracts for departmental bosses that require them to cut $500 million worth of ‘red tape’, together with $40 million of funding for Tourism NSW and finance through access to a $70 million slush-fund for major developments,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness (see pgs 6 & 7 State Plan Review, 2009).

“There’s hardly any red tape left to cut in planning. The planning laws were tremendously weakened by the notorious Part 3A amendments that greatly reduced public participation and environmental protection in relation to development. Through these changes significant development already is controlled by ministerial fiat”, Mr Muir said.

“Removing more red tape is unlikely to ‘best reflect the needs and priorities of the NSW community’ in relation to tourism development,” Mr Muir said (see The Premiers Foreword to State Plan Review, 2009).

“This State Plan Review could instead initiate tourism development on a scale that exaggerates boom/bust cycles in local economies from over-enthusiastic investment, particularly as overseas tourism is very dependent upon a vibrant global economy,” Mr Muir warned.

“Tourism development is usually situated in very attractive locations. Environmental protection zones and national parks could well become the next tourism development opportunity in NSW, if the red tape that protects these areas is cut”, he said.

“The NSW Government wants to weaken the National Parks Act to make development easier”, he said.

“National parks and environmental protection zones have long been areas were developers can’t go. They are a sanctuary from this mad, mad, world for nature and for ourselves,” said Mr Muir.

“If the State Plan Review is to be hell-bent on further cutting of ‘red tape’ regarding these sensitive areas, local communities, heritage and conservation groups are likely to become united in their efforts to stop the NSW Government’s development bulldozer”, Mr Muir said.

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