Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Sartor’s National Parks Tourism Bonanza – to remove legal protection

Expert legal advice obtained by the Colong Foundation reveals that proposed new national park laws[1] would open up these precious areas to a tourism bonanza.  Environment Minister Sartor must throw this National Park development Bill in the bin, if the NSW Government if to regain its green credentials,” said Keith Muir, Director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Advice from Mr Tim Robertson, SC, reports that ‘the Bill removes the legal protection of National Parks from uses which damage their ecology and landscapes, by destroying the principle that National Parks can only be used for a purpose which promotes the use of the land as a public park’”, Mr Muir said.

“This loss of protection is completely contrary to the assurances given by Minister Sartor, and the National Parks’ boss, Sally Barnes.  The legislation is the National Park equivalent to the deplorable Part 3A planning laws”, he said.

“Existing park laws have effectively limited new accommodation development as NSW National Parks have surprisingly little development in them.  Outside Kosciuszko National Park, almost all existing resorts were constructed before park reservation,” Mr Muir said.

“The Land and Environment Court has kept our national parks and wilderness areas sacrosanct, throwing out such ludicrous proposals as private universities and wedding reception centres,” said Mr Muir. 

“These new laws offer little chance for mounting an effective legal defence for our national parks against future property development.  The Environment Minister may approve activities such as rock concerts, fast food joints, rifle ranges, golf courses, fancy restaurants, conference and function centres, as well as various forms of resorts, under these new laws specifically designed for developers,” he said.

“For the first time, protected wilderness areas are proposed be opened up for commercial use.  ‘Standing camps’, which would probably become permanent facilities over time, could be allowed.  The commercial development in reserved wilderness is an anathema to the integrity of our national parks system, and must be stopped at all costs,” he said.

“This move to develop accommodation and all forms of resort facilities in the public’s national parks reveals just how low the NSW Government’s green credentials have sunk.  They are on the bottom of the sea, in Davey Jones’ Locker,” Mr Muir said.

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

[1] National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Sustainable Tourism) Bill [ver 10/5/10, 2.42pm]