In January 2021, the South Australian Government published a Development Regulation Variation in the SA Government Gazette permitting developments over $1million in Flinders Chase National Park without planning approval. Previous development approvals were cancelled and approval was granted for Australian Walking Company to build its accommodation after making changes to its plans.
The company withdrew the original application, the subject of the court case, and submitted a new application exempt from the normal development (including native vegetation) processes. The court case collapsed despite Eco-Action having spent many thousands of dollars donated by supporters, to fight the Supreme Court action.
While this was very disappointing for the many supporters who had donated time, money and resources to fighting the location and size of the accommodation villages and therefore environmental impact, the mediated outcome had seen some gains and some of the concerns addressed. The main ones are:
• the private accommodation formerly located at Sandy Creek in Flinders Chase National Park has been removed and will be replaced with a new site closer to Rocky River;
• the new Rocky River location is back closer to the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, making use of existing tracks and pre-developed areas where possible and will be apparently less visible from the coast;
• modifications to the proposed accommodation at Sanderson Bay include the removal of over 600 metres of new walking track.
In addition, AWC will continue to engage consultant ecologists to work with the company in developing both sites in a manner which is sensitive to each location. A conservation dividend has been negotiated as part of the agreement for a fire recovery project targeted to long-term pre and post fire ecosystem ecological monitoring. A committee of 5 comprising representatives from Eco-Action, Friends of Parks (KI Western Districts) and representatives from the Department for Environment and Water will develop and manage the project.
While acknowledging that Eco-Action was forced to abandon the court action because of the changes to the regulations, the fantastic efforts made by individual and organisational supporters of PPNotPP should not be undervalued. We have ensured that the Government is aware of the strength of feeling around the importance of National Parks remaining as public places for the conservation of our natural areas.
We can be proud of what we have achieved while at the same time we cannot afford to be complacent. There is still a strong push for weakening the integrity of our parks and reserves as places for protecting our wild places and the plants and animals that live there.
We need your help again
One of the key foundations for the activity against the proposed development was that it breached the amended Flinders Chase National Park Management Plan. A new management plan has been drafted for the parks of Western and Central Kangaroo Island (15 parks in all —including National Parks, Wilderness Protection Areas and Conservation Reserves) and we are concerned that the draft plan seriously erodes the conservation role of our parks in favour of commercial exploitation. Please take the time to have your say about the draft Plan of Management. More information here.