Kangaroo Island Eco-Action has lodged proceedings in the SA Supreme Court seeking a review of the approval of accommodation lodges being proposed for Flinders Chase National Park.
The action is supported by the environmental group's associates, the Public Parks NOT Private Playgrounds coalition, also responsible for raising funds for the legal action.
KI Eco-Action spokesperson Fraser Vickery said the proceedings sought a judicial review of the decisions made by the State Commission Assessment Panel to approve the development applications by the Australian Walking Company and by the Native Vegetation Council to approve what it believes is extensive vegetation clearance.
The three development applications sought development plan consent for the establishment and operation of one privately-owned and operated luxury accommodation and recreation facility with accommodation spread across three sites at Sandy Creek, Cape Du Couedic and Sanderson Bay, he said.
Eco-Action claims the proposed developments include:
- In the case of the Sandy Creek Application and the Sanderson Bay Application, the construction of a number of individual buildings described as 'pods' together with associated facilities and structures;
- In the case of the Cape Du Couedic Application, the refurbishment of three existing lighthouse-keepers' cottage and the construction of a shared use 'commons' building; and
- The establishment of approximately 7 kilometres of roads and thoroughfares (described as walking trails and light vehicle tracks) in order to link each facility to the existing Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail ('KIWT')
Mr Vickery said KI Eco-Action would argue that the three decisions by the SCAP and one decision by the NVC were unlawful or invalid for several reasons relating to the Development Act, the Native Vegetation Act and the National Parks and Wildlife Act, which includes, among other things:
- The proposed development is non-complying and should have been assessed as such;
- The three development applications should have undergone full public consultation as a Category 3 development;
- No development application for land division has been submitted for the division of the Flinders Chase National Park which is required prior to the lease of the land for 30 years with a right of renewal for 15 years;
- The development is not in accordance with the management plan for the Flinders Chase National Park under the National Parks and Wildlife Act;
- The native vegetation clearance decision by the NVC relies on an exemption provision which does not, in fact, apply.
"KI Eco-Action and the coalition have already spent thousands of dollars to fund legal research, taking legal advice, and preparing the Supreme Court proceedings and will launch another fundraiser to support the case being argued by the best lawyers available," Mr Vickery said.
"Our objective is to ensure that the laws of South Australia are followed to the letter. This would result in full public consultation in relation to the proposed development, including any long term leases of the National Park. It would also mean that pristine native vegetation would be protected from substantial clearance.
"KI Eco-Action encourages the AWC to 'Get Back on the Track' and to develop the 'small scale, ecologically sensitive accommodation for trail walkers in Flinders Chase National Park'as was planned in the publicly consulted amended management plan and called for in the original DENR 'Invitation for Proposal'."
The Islander has sought comment from AWC, the Department for Environment and Water and the KI Friends of Parks groups.
The Kangaroo Island Council at its August meeting was informed that the AWC's lodge proposal would require Development Approval for the buildings but that this would be done on an administrative level without involvement of elected officials.
Councillors also queried bushfire safety issues and were told this was dealt with at State level.
AWC meanwhile has started taking applications from businesses and individuals wanting to get involved in the construction phase, and locals who want to work as guides, drivers and support staff when the "Kangaroo Island Lodge Walk" opens.