A cap on visitors entering Freycinet National Park was the hot topic at a packed public meeting on Monday.
More than 250 people attended the meeting co-hosted by the Freycinet Action Network at the Coles Bay Community Hall, which aimed to discuss the future of national park following concerns over the revised draft Freycinet Peninsula Master Plan 2019.
The plan was initially released in June 2018, but was refined in response to feedback received during the consultation period.
In submissions for the previous draft, key themes from feedback included opposition to the use of the peninsula by helicopters and cruise ships, concerns that the area was already at capacity for visitors, issues around wastewater management, the need to prioritise the natural values of the area, and perceptions that the plan was too commercially driven.
Meeting convenor Sophie Underwood, of the Freycinet Action Network, said the biggest issue facing the park was visitor numbers.
"Freycinet is a place that is much-loved by locals and visitors alike but its values and the experience it offers are suffering under unprecedented attention," she said.
"The master plan tries to improve safety and traffic issues but there's little in it that is aimed at managing numbers to protect the visitor experience and park values.
"The revised plan should at least identify a pathway to ensure that the carrying capacity of Freycinet National Park is established and enforced."
Full house in the Coles Bay Community Hall- discussing planning for Freycinet, the, need for consideration of a visitor cap and concern over development issues. Freycinet is being loved to death at a cost to values and amenity. Submissions on Freycinet Master Plan close this week pic.twitter.com/It87ri8a4j— Vica Bayley (@VicaBayley) April 22, 2019
Speakers at the meeting included Coles Bay resident Alaro Ascui, and resident and tourism operator Tabitha Badger.
Ms Badger also voiced concerns over visitor numbers and the over the potential re-routing of the road.
"We need to conserve the character of the town [Coles Bay] as well as the environment around it," she said.
"If we lose our identity what do we have left?"
A state government spokesperson said the Freycinet Peninsula was a significant visitor destination, welcoming more than 300,000 per year.
They said this is why the state government was committed to the Freycinet Peninsula Master Plan, "a future proofing plan with will ensure delivery of a high-quality experience for visitors to the area, whilst protecting those things that make the Peninsula special in the first place."
"In partnership with the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council, East Coast Tourism, the local community and other key stakeholders, we have commenced a major planning process for the Freycinet Peninsula that balances protection of natural and cultural values, while at the same time addressing critical infrastructure issues," they said.
"The plan has undergone significant consultation including two rounds of public consultation.
"The plan will provide a clear framework on how government and the community will ensure a high quality, environmentally, economically and socially sustainable Freycinet visitor experience for the next twenty years."
- Revised draft Freycinet Peninsula Master Plan open for comment
Following the floor being opened to community members to raise issues, 10 motions were passed at the meeting:
- The community rejected the Freycinet Master Plan until an independent assessment of carrying capacity of the park is carried out and the plan is modified to reflect this;
- The community called for a wastewater systems audit on Freycinet Peninsula properties by the Glamorgan Spring Bay
- The Freycinet Peninsula should be helicopter tourism free;
- That the gravel pull off zone on the corner of the Coles Bay Road and the Tasman Highway remain for safety of buses and longer vehicles and to encourage carpooling and bike riding options;
- The Coles Bay Conservation Area between Black Point and Edge of the Bay should not be part of the accommodation strategy of the master plan and should be protected for future generations;
- The community commended the state government's commitment to end cruise ship visits to Wineglass Bay;
- As identified by the University of Tasmania's options analysis, the community supported the visitor centre remaining at Ranger Creek with additional parking nearby;
- The community rejected the master plan proposal to industrialise the bay of Coles Bay;
- There should be no new jetty built in front of the Hazards to maintain the view from Coles Bay;
- That the independent assessment into carrying capacity specifically included looking at a visitor cap and charges for visitors.
Ms Underwood said the Freycinet Action Network would now seek a meeting with Premier and Tourism Minister Will Hodgman to discuss the master plan and the motions.
Key initiatives in the state government's revised draft included improved wastewater management, a new visitor gateway, a network of transport connections, a network of "experience nodes", and an entrance corridor.
The plan was developed with input from the community and representatives from the Parks and Wildlife Service, the Department of State Growth, the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council, East Coast Tourism, the Freycinet Association, and the Freycinet Destination Action Plan Group.
The draft master plan will be open for public comment until Friday, April 26 at 9am.
For more information and to view the master plan, visit parks.tas.gov.au.