The Australian Walking Company says it will proceed with its Kangaroo Island plans as presented at recent public information sessions.
It will however will review its position following feedback from various agencies during the development application process.
This despite community calls for the two proposed accommodation developments to be relocated closer to the KI Wilderness Trail and away from sensitive coastal headlands at Sandy Creek and Sanderson Bay.
AWC general manager Heath Garratt said the Development Application for Flinders Chase National Park was being reviewed by the State Commission Assessment Panel.
"We will continue with our current application and following feedback from the referral agencies, we will review our position in the interests of achieving the best outcome for Kangaroo Island while providing a tourism experience South Australia will be proud of," Mr Garratt said.
"Should the Development Application gain approval, Australian Walking Company has committed to providing the equivalent of 30 full time paid roles by the time we reach capacity and looks forward to unveiling training and education programs for local people as a result.
"Australian Walking Company would like to thank the Kangaroo Island community for their constructive feedback."
Mr Garratt said a 30-year paid commercial lease arrangement had been negotiated with the Department for Environment and Water with an optional 15-year extension. The Department has confirmed the proposal is in line with the Park Management Plan, he said.
Mr Garratt said the proposal would continue to evolve as further information was received from various agencies including the Coast Protection Board, Heritage South Australia, Natural Resources Board - Kangaroo Island, Country Fire Service, Native Vegetation Council and Kangaroo Island Council.
"Australian Walking Company has continued to work closely with key stakeholders in an effort to create a unique off-the-grid experience with best practice environmentally sustainable attributes," Mr Garratt said.
"Australian Walking Company has extensive experience in minimising the environmental impact to wilderness areas," he said
"The company has designed the new sites to be less than half the footprint of the existing public campsites along the Wilderness Trail, with portable and flat packed structures raised above the vegetation.
"In areas where disturbance may occur during the placement of the pods, infill planting will be undertaken with local revegetation contractors engaged to collect seeds from the site for regeneration. The same technique will apply at the end of the lease to rejuvenate the areas after the structures have been removed."
AWC lists its proposal's progress as follows:
- The initial proposal comprised four accommodation nodes in accordance with the provisions of the Flinders Chase National Park Management Plan. Australian Walking Company has created an all-inclusive fully-guided experience with two accommodation sites in the park and a third night in Lighthouse Keepers Cottages, eliminating the need to develop an additional site. The cottages will undergo restoration work funded by Australian Walking Company and in future the public will continue to have access to the cottages at a similar charge.
- The two sensitively designed sites have been reduced in size with the lightweight sleeping pods 30 per cent smaller, and the communal space 20 per cent smaller than originally proposed. No vegetation clearance will be required around these structures and suspended flooring will reduce the impact on the ground below. Following CFS recommendations, the Guide Pod will be the designated fire refuge and will be situated in an area where minimal clearance is required to bring the vegetation coverage level to 50 per cent around that pod.
- The four-day walk will require approximately 3km of access tracks and 3km of walking trails. At least half of these tracks and trails will require minimal clearance as they will follow existing wildlife trails and clearings or old construction tracks which were created during the development of the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. Access tracks will be narrow and will provide access to light vehicles only.