After years of waiting, a formal application has been lodged to develop a divisive cable car on Hobart’s kunanyi/Mount Wellington.
- Full details on the proposal are being kept under wraps till Thursday
- Cable car proponents say there are no “fundamental” changes
- Opponents predict more protests as the council considers the application
The company behind the $54 million proposal, the Mount Wellington Cableway Company (MWCC), said there were no surprises or fundamental changes to its original plans but that it would not release further details until Thursday.
With an 804-page development application (DA) now formally lodged with the Hobart City Council, councillors could vote on the future of kunanyi /Mount Wellington as soon as August.
The proposal for a cable car spanning more than two kilometres from the base of the mountain to the summit has divided the community.
MWCC chairman Chris Oldfield said after decades of speculation about a cable car, the DA was the first to be lodged.
He said an “enormous” amount of work had gone into the assessment process, including “13 detailed expert reports on all aspects of the project”.
“[We’ve] designed the best possible project that offers protection to Mount Wellington,” he said.
“We have confidence that it will be assessed in light of the amount of work we’ve done and that’s all we can really hope for.”
Mr Oldfield said the basis of the development application was similar to details already in the public arena.
“There hasn’t been any fundamental design changes,” he said.
The company will give full details at an announcement on the mountain’s summit on Thursday.
More protests flagged
Thousands of people turned out 12 months ago to protest against the project. (Supplied: Rob Blakers)
Residents Opposed to the Cable Car spokesman Ted Cutlan said the much-awaited DA had been promised years ago.
Ted Cutlan says now the project is a possibility, people will be spurred into more protest action. (ABC News: Siobhain Galea)
“Finally, after all these years the lodging of the DA means people will finally have the detail to understand just how objectionable this land grab is,” he said.
“They’ll see how big the building is proposed for on top of the [mountain’s] Organ Pipes, and it means we can have closure on this.”
Council pushed last year to have the mountain’s towering dolerite cliffs, known as the Organ Pipes, put on the National Heritage List.
Once the full details were known, Mr Cutlan said people would once again be mobilised to protest.
“Now that there is definitely a DA, people will realise this could possibly happen, and I can see huge rallies and huge protests happening,” he said.
“I think the public will understand just how obnoxious this thing is.
Planning officers will now have 28 days to assess the company’s application against the planning scheme to ensure it meets all requirements.
The council can request a 28-day extension if more information is needed from the company, meaning the council will have up to 56 days to assess the project.
The application will then be recommended for approval or rejection by the council’s planning committee before being put to a full council meeting.
Councillors urged to keep open mind
The proponents say there have not been any fundamental changes to their original plans. (Supplied: MWCC )
Councillor Jeff Briscoe called on the company to publicly release the 800-page application in full “in the interests of transparency and openness”.
Determining how long the process could take, he said, was like “looking into a crystal ball”.
“There’ll be a short period for people to put in representations for and against, then planners will assess the application against the planning scheme and any relevant management plan for the mountain,” he said.
“Officers will then write a report, which will come to the council for determination.”
Alderman Briscoe acknowledged the issue was a contentious one, but said councillors would ensure they approached the application with an open mind.
Last year, the council voted to block the MWCC from accessing council-owned land near McRobies Gully that was part of its development proposal but the State Government intervened by granting an authority to the company to undertake investigations needed for its application.