Reaction to approval for AWC's Flinders Chase development

An artist's impression of the AWC accommodation in place in the dunes at Sanderson Bay in Flinders Chase National Park.
An artist's impression of the AWC accommodation in place in the dunes at Sanderson Bay in Flinders Chase National Park.

The State Commission Assessment Panel on Thursday, June 13 voted to approve the Australian Walking Company's accommodation developments at Sandy Creek and Sanderson Bay in Flinders Chase National Park.

The proposal now proceeds to the Native Vegetation Council and the KI Council would also need to grant building consent.

Eco-Action KI, Friends of Parks groups and other Kangaroo Island residents opposed to private developments in remote and wild sections of the national park have been left saddened and angered by the decision.

About $40,000 has been raised by the Public parks NOT private playgrounds action group to mount a legal battle against the development.

Eco-Action KI spokesperson Fraser Vickery said the SCAP decision while shocking was to some extent expected because of the mis-categorization of the proposal as a Category 1 application, therefore no public consultation was required.

"The approval is effectively without condition except for a requirement for native vegetation clearance approval - the NVC is considering a clearance application and should not approve the application because it will result in clearance of 'substantially intact' strata of native vegetation, however the Department for Environment and Water has advised the NVC to approve the application under the Regulations in an attempt to subvert this principle," Mr Vickery said.

"The Minister has also insisted that the Department are at 'arms length' from the process however two Departmental staff presented to the SCAP in support of the proposal.

"The approval is a slap in the face to conservationists and an affront to those who have worked so hard over 100 years to protect and manage Flinders Chase. Eco-Action will be proceeding with legal action to stop this monstrous insult to the environment."

The two new "lodge" developments and also existing accommodation at the lighthouse that would be offered by AWC are marked on green in this map.

The two new "lodge" developments and also existing accommodation at the lighthouse that would be offered by AWC are marked on green in this map.

AWC general manager Heath Garratt said, "This is another important milestone in delivering a world class tourism experience that South Australia will be proud of. We would like to take the opportunity to thank the members of the SCAP and the six referral bodies that we have worked with over the past 15 months.

"Throughout the development approval stage, AWC has evolved its Flinders Chase guided walking experience proposal, and although no formal consultation was required, we are committed to building on the 20 public and private sessions we have already had.

"AWC will continue to follow due process in obtaining the remaining approvals to ensure this experience reaches its full potential and adds significant benefit to the KI offering."

Parndana's Becky Westbrook has campaigned to protect the wild headlands where the development is slated.

"I find it unbelievable that in this day and age, a government that is supposed to be representing its people is blatantly ignoring locals on the Island and is favouring a private, money-making business," Mrs Westbrook said. "We will never stop fighting for our wild places."

KI Mayor Michael Pengilly said the proposal clearly fell within guidelines or it would not have been approved. "People are entitled to protest but need to accept the outcome."

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