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‘No complaints’: Parks defend flights on iconic Tassie lake

Commenting after concerns from conservationists about a licence given for seaplanes to operate on the lake, Parks said it had not heard from anyone who was upset about the issue.“The PWS is not aware of any park visitor complaints during this time regarding noise, or impacts to recreational use such as bushwalking, kayaking or trout fishing,” Parks said in a statement from the government media unit. It said seaplanes had been operating on the lake under a crown licence since 2019. “The operator’s licence was renewed in 2021, which has not provided the operator with any increased capacity, instead tighter and more specific licence restrictions have been introduced.” Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania chief Luke Martin said longtime Fishers and Walkers Tasmania spokesman and conservationist Dan Broun’s views aligned with those of the Greens.“I understand Mr Broun works for the Tasmanian Greens and obviously shares their antagonism towards commercial tourism in the world heritage areas,” he said. “Seaplanes have been landing on Lake St Clair for years and I think most Tasmanians would agree one flight a week is a reasonable balance.”Fishers and Walkers Tasmania rejected Mr Martin’s criticisms in a post on its Facebook page. “Luke Martin reckons Fishers and Walkers is just a ‘social media account’. “We are actually a broad group of people that give a sh-t about keeping choppers and greed out of our public places. “Mr Martin talks about disclosure but can anyone find a public report on who funds the TICT and where their money goes? Must have missed that disclosure.”Conservationists slam seaplane operation at iconic Tassie lakeCONSERVATIONISTS fear the granting of a licence for seaplane operations will shatter the tranquillity of the lake known to Aboriginal people as “sleeping water”.The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service has granted a two-year licence for up to four landings a month at Lake St Clair — the southern terminus of the iconic Overland Track.“The current licence is not an expansion on previous arrangements that the operator held,” a Parks spokeswoman said. “Tighter and more specific licence restrictions have been introduced to better manage aircraft landings within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area”.“Landings with associated take offs are limited to a maximum of four per month. Do you think seaplanes should be allowed to operate at Lake St Clair?“If less than four landings are completed each month, there is no carrying over of any ‘unused’ landings and take offs into any subsequent month. A maximum of 48 landings per year are specified in the licence.“The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service is currently developing an air access policy as flagged in the TWWHA Tourism Master Plan. “Managing aircraft landings within the TWWHA, including those at Lake St Clair, are within the scope of the policy issues being considered.But Fishers and Walkers Tasmania spokesman Dan Broun — who is also a Greens adviser — said aircraft operations threatened to degrade wilderness values. “The Derwent Basin and Frankland Beaches are a favourite place to stalk trout, this proposal will destroy that fishery, not just on the days the planes use it, but forever,” he said. “Parks are mad to approve this. “Anglers fish the Derwent Basin of Lake St Clair for its reliability for good-sized fish and for the peace and quiet. Noisy, smelly aircraft will spook the fish and anger the anglers.“The mountains surrounding Lake St Clair are a mecca for bushwalkers, a myriad of tracks to the peaks, glacial lakes and alpine rainforest are world renowned. “They go there for peace, quiet and adventure – these planes will be heard throughout the area, shattering the peace and polluting the skies.”Conservation groups have mounted a long-running campaign against a proposal for helicopter access to Halls Island in Lake Malbena in the central highlands. A mass landing from helicopters on the state’s west coast in 2020 and a joy flight carrying television personality Robert Irwin over remote wilderness last year also sparked complaints.Aircraft operations are covered by ‘Fly Neighbourly Advice’ published by Parks to “promote the harmonious relationship between aviation activities and environmental and conservation interests.Greens leader Cassy O’Connor called on Parks to reverse the decision. “It beggars belief that the Parks Service can think it’s reasonable to authorise dozens of landings a year from one of the loudest aircraft in the world at one of the quietest and most peaceful places on Earth,” she said. “Lake St Clair is known to the palawa people as ‘leeawuleena’ meaning ‘sleeping water’ – this place is ancient and peaceful, a sparkling jewel of Tasmania’s wilderness.“It’s an outrage and yet another misguided ’business arrangement’ by a Parks service attempting to commodify what is priceless.“For the thrills of a very few, many hundreds of parks’ users will pay a price. From kayakers to bushwalkers and fly-fishers, this is a magnificent natural amphitheatre to recreate in peacefully – floatplane joy rides will shatter that peace.”Twitter follow David Killick

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