Central Highlands Council has rejected the Lake Malbena tourism development in the Wilderness World Heritage Area after an at-times heated meeting in Bothwell.
Councillors voiced their concern at a lack of transparency by the state government and Commonwealth, and believed the council had been placed in a difficult position.
Mayor Lou Triffitt and councillors Robert Cassidy, Anthony Archer, Julie Honner, Anita Campbell and Tony Bailey voted against the proposal, with councillors Jim Allwright, Jim Poore and Scott Bowden in favour.
UPDATE 12.15pm: The meeting has broken for lunch after several dozen people spoke against the Lake Malbena tourism proposal.
The proponent from Wild Drake, Daniel Hackett, will speak at 12.45pm before councillors discuss the proposal and vote later in the afternoon.
UPDATE 11.45am: A teacher who has brought about 1000 students through the Lake Malbena area as part of a six-day cross-plateau expedition says the mechanical interference of a helicopter would harm the experience.
Bill Conlon said the area was a "teachers' dream classroom" and he had concerns about the state government's role in assisting the tourism proposal to be put forward.
"It become very obvious to me that the government has invested a load of taxpayers' money behind the scenes and over a number of years to change the values of the Wilderness World Heritage Area," he said.
"The conventions of the World Heritage Area have been purposely manipulated ... in some cases deliberately broken... to weaken the notice of world heritage sanctity."
He questioned whether Central Highlands Council should be tasked with the job of determining whether wilderness values would be harmed if the proposal went ahead.
Other speakers have questioned whether the huts can be defined as a standing camp - an issue raised by the Australian Heritage Council as part of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
UPDATE 11.25am: The next speakers focused on the fire risk, further comments on wilderness area degradation and issues around storm water management.
Robyn Lewis, who helped to formulate the MONA development application, said her family's connection to the Wilderness World Heritage Area stretched back to the late 1800s.
She said the Wild Drake proposal was nowhere near the level of MONA in terms of benefits for the wider community.
"This project is no MONA," she said.
"It doesn't have specific high level economic benefits to the region.
"I don't think we want to destroy what 99.9 per cent of people go up there for."
The National Parks Association of Tasmania was highly critical of the Reserve Activity Assessment, described as "amateurish" and that the council had insufficient information from that process to approve the Lake Malbena development.
The meeting was also treated to a bit of poetry from Patricia Wilson.
"Mr Hackett's development is not a good idea for Halls," she said.
"If he says it is, it's a load of balls."
UPDATE 11am: Both the Wilderness Society and the Greens have spoken against the proposal, criticising the Reserve Activity Assessment process and saying council had the power under its planning laws to reject the development.
Wilderness Society Tasmania acting campaign manager Tom Allan said there were a range of reasons why the proposal did not stack up.
"Everyone in this room knows there is a better way to do wilderness tourism than this," he said.
"If council is genuinely committed to upholding due process, the rule of law, local democracy, for the reasons I have just listed and plenty more ... they must reject the Wild Drake application."
Greens Senator Nick McKim said the RAA process - which the Central Highlands Council relied upon in recommended the proposal be approved - was not transparent.
"It has no statutory basis in law," he said.
"It had no public consultation attached to it.
"There are no appeal rights flowing out of the RAA.
"As it has no statutory basis there is no legal requirement for Parks to make an unbiased decision."
UPDATE 10.50am: The first speaker, John Campbell, has accessed the Central Plateau wilderness area for about 30 years using nothing but his backpack.
He said the proposal would harm his experience of wilderness.
"I believe wilderness means exactly that, wilderness," Mr Campbell said.
"The proponent says the maximum number of flights will be restricted and limited, I say that's nonsense and a complete furphy.
"The more money they make, the more they put into it, more helicopter flights will occur."
The second speaker David Young, of the Tasmanian Fly Tyers' Club, said all 105 of their members were opposed, particularly given the helicopter access which he believed would detract from the wilderness experience.
"We love the area for its remoteness, its wild natural beauty, its tranquility, and its complete lack of mechanical," he said.
"One aspect of wild drakes proposal that all of our members hate is its reliance on helicopters.
"The utterly intrusive experience of helicopters would degrade the Central Highlands ... experience."
Both speakers received resounding applause from the audience.
UPDATE 10.45am: Central Highlands mayor Lou Triffitt has described the process as the "most stressful time" for the council on record, apart from the recent fires.
Councillors have worked through 1346 submissions on the Lake Malbena proposal.
Cr Triffitt said attendees at the meeting had to be "respectful to each other", and council had a role to play as a planning authority.
"I commend council staff for their extra workload and also the councillors who have spent endless hours reading thru all the representations," she said.
"However at the end of the day council has to act as a planning authority."
UPDATE 10.25am: About 70 people are already in the Bothwell Town Hall with the council meeting set to begin in five minutes.
Nine councillors will decide on whether the "premium" tourism development and helicopter access will go ahead for Lake Malbena - but first they will hear from at least 25 speakers, the majority against the proposal.
The proponents from Wild Drake - Daniel and Simone Hackett - are also at the meeting.
The council approval is separate to a Federal Court action lodged against the approval process.
Police are in attendance.
10am: At least 25 people have registered to speak at a special meeting of the Central Highlands Council today as councillors vote on a "premium" tourism proposal for Halls Island in Lake Malbena.
The proposal includes up to 240 helicopter flights to a bedrock landing area near the lake in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
It is the first tourism development to reach this stage since the Tasmanian Government's expressions of interest process for projects for undeveloped areas including in the Wilderness World Heritage Area.
The Lake Malbena plans passed state and Commonwealth approval processes, and now requires council approval.
The council received 1344 submissions opposed to the plan and two in favour, but council officers recommended it be approved citing that Parks and Wildlife's Reserve Activity Assessment mitigated most objections.
The council meeting will begin at 10.30am at Bothwell Town Hall.