EAST Coast locals have called on the Parks and Wildlife Service to abandon a proposed Freycinet Visitor Gateway development, evoking Joni Mitchell with “pave paradise and put up a parking lot’’.
On Easter Monday, more than 50 locals donned red clothing to “draw a line’’. Freycinet Action Network convenor Sophie Underwood said the gateway, including a visitor centre and car park was overkill. “The Blundstone Arena-sized visitor gateway proposal represents the wrong scale of development in the wrong place,’’ she said.
“There is support for an upgrade of the existing visitor services infrastructure, with measures introduced to control visitor numbers and ensure management strategies protect both the values of the park and the visitor experience.
“Freycinet is already widely recognised as groaning under the weight of visitor numbers and lack of funding for land management.”
“The site for this mass tourism development has been identified as extremely significant for plant biodiversity in Tasmania. It should be incorporated into the national park, not paved for an ever-expanding car park,” she said.
Tasmanian National Park Association spokesperson Nick Sawyer said the Tasmanian Government needed to get serious about addressing the overcrowding in national parks like Freycinet, and abandon the belief that more people is a good thing for sensitive, much loved local landscapes. “The parks service needs to get serious about managing visitor numbers to Freycinet National Park before it is too late,’’ Mr Sawyer said.
The association and the Freycinet Action Network will participate in the various assessment processes associated with the development, including calling for transparency with regards the natural and cultural heritage surveys that have been conducted on this site.
A State Government spokesperson said the Freycinet National Park continued to experience strong visitation, which was why the Parks and Wildlife Service developed and released a new master plan in 2019 after more than two years of public consultation with the local community and key stakeholders.
“The measures to create a new gateway outside of the national park for large vehicles and a bus transport are practical and responsible ways to reduce congestion and manage visitor numbers sustainably,” the spokesman said. “The Freycinet Master Plan process identified a site on Crown land outside of the national park for a new visitor gateway to limit any further infrastructure within the national park.”
He also said the PWS has engaged a number of consultants to undertake assessments of the natural, heritage and Aboriginal cultural values. “The PWS is aware of important values on the Crown land and is confident that a new gateway can be developed outside of the national park,” he said.
The Visitor Gateway development would also undergo a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment which will include being published for a minimum of four-wees public consultation, he said. And the designs for planning approval would be sent to the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council.