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Australian Alps added to conversation registe -

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Australian Alps added to conversation register

The World Today - Friday, 7 November , 2008 12:46:00

Reporter: Catherine Clifford

ELEANOR HALL: Developers and tourism operators are far from happy about the latest addition to the
country's top conservation register.

Nearly 1.6-million hectares of Alpine reserve land across south-eastern Australia were placed on
the National Heritage List today in recognition of their outstanding heritage value.

But alpine tourism operators are already complaining about the extra layer that this adds to the
approval process in the Australian Alps.

Catherine Clifford reports.

CATHERINE CLIFFORD: In announcing the listing, a proud Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett
said the Australian Alps have a strong association with community groups and a special place in
Australia's natural and cultural history.

PETER GARRETT: This means that the Australian Alps have now been identified as having Australia's
highest heritage honour. The values of the Australian Alps were clearly deserving. An extraordinary
literary history for the settlement culture, important to Indigenous people and many rare and
important species there as well.

CATHERINE CLIFFORD: If tourism developers or operators wanting to perhaps say build something like
a chalet in the alps, would looking to do that, what impediment is there for them now with this
classification.

PETER GARRETT: Look, the impact of the listing means that the environment legislation at a national
level will apply only if there is a proposal which has the capacity to significantly impact on the
natural or cultural or heritage values.

CATHERINE CLIFFORD: What does "significantly impact" mean though in terms of either getting a
development application through or not getting it through?

PETER GARRETT: If there are proposals which are contemplated which are of such an order such as to
raise the question of significant impact then it is something which would be considered in the
course of that process but I don't anticipate that that will be the case.

CATHERINE CLIFFORD: But the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is under
review.

Kirsty Ruddock, a solicitor from the Environmental Defenders Office, says while the Act's got its
problems, it will make a difference with proposals that were never good for the area.

KIRSTY RUDDOCK: There was um, a proposal, I think, last year, well in 2006 where the state minister
had approved a concept plan for the redevelopment of Perisher Village and it is those types of
developments in the future, I suppose, that are going to be now caught by the Environment
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

CATHERINE CLIFFORD: So if I was a tourism operator who wanted to build a chalet now or perhaps a
miner who had discovered some mineral wealth in this area that is now listed under the National
Heritage List, what impediment would I have?

KIRSTY RUDDOCK: They are going to look at that impact that that development is going to have on
both the area that has been listed and the areas around it and they are going to be requiring you
to do a whole lot of environmental assessments of how it is going to impact on the values that the
listing is going to be protecting.

CATHERINE CLIFFORD: And it's that added layer of approvals and bureaucracy that makes Tom Barry
shake his head. He's lived in the Snowys for more than 40 years, where he's been a councillor, real
estate agent, newsagent and strong member of the community.

He says Minister Garrett's announcement will ultimately punish developers with good ideas who want
to bring money into the region.

TOM BARRY: Well, I just see it as another move for a government and governments tend to do it a
lot. When they can't do something constructive and they are not real sure what to do, they either
set up a committee or they declare a national park or they declare a heritage area.

Doesn't do much for the people that live here. Gives them a warm and fuzzy feeling and in the long
run probably just creates another hurdle for people who want to do something.

People say oh yeah businesses can take place outside. There is plenty of areas outside the park but
to do a lot of the things that people want to do, we need that balance to allow certain activities
and developments within the national park.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Tom Barry, a real estate agent and former councillor from Jindabyne in the
Snowy Mountains. Catherine Clifford reporting.