Media release – BirdLife Tasmania, 22 June 2021

Endangered Species at risk from kunanyi/Mt Wellington cable car proposal

BirdLife Tasmania today lodged its submission to the Hobart City Council regarding the proposed cable car on kunanyi/Mt Wellington.

The submission identified swift parrots to be at significant risk from the proposal. “The proposed loss of between 75 and 90 feeding and nesting trees that provide critical habitat for a Critically Endangered species is indefensible,” Dr Eric Woehler OAM, Convenor of BirdLife Tasmania said today.

“The last thing a Critically Endangered woodland bird species needs is the deliberate destruction of nesting and feeding trees – it’s sheer lunacy,” he added.

“With recent studies by ANU scientists suggesting the effective population size for swift parrots to be as low as 300 birds, every nesting and feeding tree is a precious resource for them that must be protected, not cut down for a destructive development.”

“Swift parrots are also at risk from collisions with the towers and base station that are proposed to be constructed in the midst of swift parrot nesting and feeding habitat on the slopes of kunanyi/Mt Wellington.”

Wedge-tailed eagles, another Endangered species observed over kunanyi/Mt Wellington is also at risk of collisions with the cables and towers.

kunanyi/Mt Wellington is recognised internationally as a biologically diverse hotspot, within the South-east Tasmania Key Biodiversity Area. The KBA was identified on the basis of international criteria, supporting populations of numerous endemic and threatened species.

“kunanyi/Mt Wellington contributes to the conservation of global biodiversity, and the proposed cable car development threatens to fragment and alienate habitat for a wide range of woodland bird species,” Dr Woehler noted.

“The proposal generates multiple threats to Endangered species, and these threats will act in concert to generate significant cumulative impacts that cannot be mitigated”.

“Birdlife Tasmania rejects the destructive proposal and urges Hobart City Council to do the same,” Dr Woehler concluded.

Media release – Nic Street, Liberal Member for Franklin, 22 June 2021

Will Mr O’Byrne unite or divide on the Mt Wellington Cable Car?

The Tasmanian Liberal Government has always strongly supported the proposal for a Mt Wellington cable car.

This project has the potential to bring significant investment to the state and create new jobs, both during construction and once operational.

The Government has also been consistent that the development needs to obtain all the necessary approvals and go through the usual planning process, including a period of public comment, which concludes shortly.

What still remains unclear is where Labor stands on this.

New Labor Member for Franklin, Dean Winter, has indicated his support for the project on social media this morning.*

Will new Labor leader, Mr O’Byrne, finally put his clear support on the record for the Mt Wellington cable car project, or will he continue to sit on the fence and effectively support the Greens?

*@DeanWinterMP tweet, 22 June 2021 6:26am

Submission – Cassy O’Connor MP, 22 June 2021

kunanyi/Mount Wellington Cable Car – Planning Submission

Re: Development Application Number PLN19-345, 100 Pinnacle Road

To whom it may concern,

Thank you for the opportunity to make a representation in relation to the Development Application Number PLN19-345, 100 Pinnacle Road, for a cable car on kunanyi/Mount Wellington.  I present this submission on behalf of the Tasmanian Greens.

Our submission outlines clear contraventions of both the Wellington Park Management Plan and the Hobart Interim Planning Scheme 2015.

We first wish to draw attention to matters we believe the Hobart City Council should consider in relation to the discretionary elements of the application.

The City of Hobart Aboriginal Commitment and Action Plan includes actions and deliverables such as –

• Work with partners to promote reconciliation and advocate for Aboriginal inclusion within our sphere of influence.

• Improve and strengthen Aboriginal Heritage Protocols and Recognition.

• Encourage and support Aboriginal voices across our City.

• Support the Aboriginal community in campaigns of significance as appropriate.

The broad Tasmanian Aboriginal/palawa community have sent a clear and consistent message that the cable car proposal would have an irreversible and harmful impact on the Aboriginal cultural landscape that is kunanyi.

Bearing in mind the objectives of the City of Hobart Aboriginal Commitment and Action Plan, it is incumbent on Hobart City Council to give serious weight to the views of this community when assessing discretionary uses in planning applications.

On the issue of Aboriginal heritage, which we address in more detail further in this submission, it is noted that the proponent was forced to seek Aboriginal heritage expertise from interstate to prepare a belated Aboriginal heritage assessment which is manifestly inadequate and disrespectful to the enduring cultural connection of palawa peoples to kunanyi.

We also draw to Council’s attention to the fact that a Park Activity Assessment has not yet been submitted to the Wellington Park Trust. This assessment requires details of the source of funding, as well as a detailed business and financial plan demonstrating economic viability over at least a five-year period (Wellington Park Management Plan p. 271).

Without this information, the only document available is the five-year old Economic Impact Assessment (which is incidentally misattributed to Saul Eslake by the proponent). This document does not, and does not proport to, assess the viability of the business nor whether or not there is financial capacity to establish the business.

Given the profound and irreversible impact on the mountain of any cable car development, the proponent’s failure to provide a robust economic assessment of the proposal should immediately ring alarm bells with Council.

Without the documents required for the Park Activity Assessment, the business viability of a cable car is entirely unevidenced.

We note the cable car proponent’s submitted Economic Impact Assessment is outdated and predicated on a pre-COVID economic environment of cruise ship visits and mass international tourism. This document should be dismissed as irrelevant by Council.

We also note glaring errors and deficiencies in the proponent’s submitted documentation in relation to noise and traffic impacts, visual impacts, the impact on biodiversity and on European cultural heritage on the mountain.

The Development Application submitted by the proponent is so outdated, flawed and containing misrepresentations that border on deceitful, we argue Council cannot approve the development.



Under standards E10.7.1 Buildings and Works of the Hobart Interim Planning Scheme 2015, P1(c), the proponent must demonstrate special circumstances exist.

Under E10.3 Definition of Terms, special circumstances exist if one or more of the following are met –

“(a) the use or development will result in significant long term social or economic community benefits and there is no feasible alternative location;

(b) ongoing management cannot ensure the survival of the high priority biodiversity values on the site and there is little potential for recruitment or for long term persistence;

(c) the development is located on an existing lot within the Low Density Residential, Rural Living or Environmental Living Zone and is for a single dwelling and/or associated residential outbuildings or works;”

The proponent argues both (a) and (b) are relevant (Planning Application p. 139). However, no case appears to be made that the circumstances as defined in paragraph (b) exist.

Paragraph (a) has two requirements that must be met, significant, long term social or economic community benefit, as well as here being no feasible alternative location.

The proponent relies on their route analysis to argue there is no feasible alternative location. This is flawed for two reasons. The analysis does not consider alternative base station / cable car locations, and the analysis does not, in fact, demonstrate that other routes are not feasible.

Option 2, as described by the proponent, would result in five times less impacted vegetation. The proponent argues that this route would “likely have significant impacts on residential amenity” and “require significant upgrades to ensure the road compliant with Australian Standards”, however these reasons outline reasons for the proponent’s preference, and do not make the case that the route is not feasible.

Furthermore, a “Route Analysis” document is cited, but not provided with the Development Application. This document would no doubt assist in shedding light on the feasibility or otherwise of alternative routes – as it currently stands we only have a limited interpretation provided by the proponent.

The other requirement, that the project will provide “significant, long term social or economic community benefit” is also poorly evidenced. To support this case the Economic Impact Report and the Community Benefit Analysis are cited.

The social or economic community benefit requirement has two important qualifiers – “significant” and “long-term”.

The “long-term” qualifier naturally necessitates ongoing business viability – as a business failure will result in a cessation of any benefit, social or economic. Neither the Economic Impact Report or the Community Benefit Analysis make the case that the business is viable.

A positive economic impact does not necessitate business viability. For example, the Economic Impact Report compares the contribution to MONA, a famously lossmaking enterprise supported by the personal finance of David Walsh.

The Park Activity Assessment has yet to be lodged with the Wellington Park Trust. This requires details of the source of funding, as well as a detailed business and financial plan demonstrating economic viability over at least a five-year period (Wellington Park Management Plan p. 271).

These documents would provide key insight into whether the long-term requirement under special circumstances can be met. As it currently stands, insufficient information exists.

The other requirement is that the contribution be ‘significant’. The Economic Impact Report finds that the contribution will be between $79-99 Million per year to the state’s economy.

While the report compares this impact to a figure of $134 million for Mona, which we agree would be an appropriate benchmark for a significant economic impact. The real number, however, according to Tasmania’s Coordinator General, is estimated to be $760m annually.1 This is 8-10 times higher than the assessed potential impact of the cable car.

Tasmania’s GSP in 2019-20 was $32.1 billion. The project therefore represents 0.2% – 0.3% of Tasmania’s GSP, and on the Economic Impact Assessment’s numbers, 2% – 3% of Tourism GSP. Mona, on the other hand, represents 2.3% of Tasmania’s GSP and 21% of Tourism GSP.

It should also be noted that the requirement is for community benefit. If it was intended that the assessment was one of state-wide significance then the phrasing would likely be economic and social benefit, and not use the word community. Given this is the interim planning scheme for Hobart, community likely refers specifically to the Hobart municipality. No assessment specifically to this region has been undertaken.

Of further relevance is the fact that the proponent has presented a false equivalence between economic impact and economic benefit. According to Watson et al. economic impacts are “The net changes in new economic activity associated with an industry, event, or policy in an existing regional economy” whereas economic benefits are “A net increase in total social welfare… [which] can be both market and nonmarket values”. 2

The report cited focuses on direct economic impact, rather than economic benefit.

In summation the proponent has failed to make a case for there being no feasible alternative location (on the contrary, the proponent has demonstrated other feasible options).

The proponent has also failed to demonstrate benefits specifically to the community, has failed to demonstrate the significance of the project’s potential contribution, has failed to evidence that the benefits can be long-term, and has described economic impacts, rather than economic benefits.


The Wellington Park Management Plan performance standard for Aboriginal Cultural Heritage requires any assessment of potential sites to “comply with any relevant guidelines prepared by Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania” (p. 77).

Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania’s Aboriginal Heritage Standards and Procedures requires communication with the Aboriginal community (usually through an Aboriginal Heritage Officer). No such communication is evident in either the Development Application or the Aboriginal Heritage Assessment.

The proposal therefor has not undertaken the required steps to identify any Aboriginal “relic”, heritage site or precinct, and does not meet this standard.


The Development Application claims the application meets the ‘Acceptable Solution’ for threatened species in Wellington Park Management Plan (A2.2) in relation to the western portion of the access road, the Base Station and Towers 1 and 2.

In the comments against this criterion it is claimed “No threatened flora species have been recorded and the likelihood of any occurring is considered low” (p. 40). The Biodiversity Assessment notes that two threatened vegetation communities are listed as threatened under the Nature Conservation Act 2002 in the access road area.

While these may not be on the western portion of the access road, the rest of the access road does not appear to be assessed under this standard in the development application.

The acceptable solution under the Wellington Park Management Plan is –

“The proposal does not impact upon any threatened species listed under the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 or the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.”

This is not limited to flora species. The Biodiversity Assessment found potential Tasmanian masked owl habitat in the Access Road and Base Station region. The assessment also found notable habitat for the swift parrot at the base station, lower two tower sites, and access road, and identified a total of 91 nesting trees and 37 foraging trees.

The Biodiversity Assessment also identified a moderate collision risk for the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle in the vicinity of the organ pipes, and a low collision risk in other areas of the proposal. This risk is not identified or assessed in the Development Application.


Under both the Pinnacle Specific Area Plan in the Wellington Park Management Plan general provisions, new buildings and structures on the pinnacle, or located within areas of High or Moderate Visual Sensitivity as described in the Management Plan, must be “designed and sited to minimise or remedy any loss of visual values or impacts on the visual character of the affected area.”

The Visual Impact Assessment characterises half of the viewpoints used as a moderate impact, and only one site (Tranmere) as having a negligible impact (p. 5). A moderate impact clearly indicates that the proposal is not minimising visual impacts or remedying the loss of visual values.


The Development Application’s response to this criterion is insufficient. The Acoustic Assessment report solely assesses noise from the cable car itself, and notes that it focusses on “ambient noise in the absence of any activity at the proposed base terminal complex, cableway, and pinnacle terminal/restaurant complex.”

The report also notes “Other noise emitter details will be required, such as plant and equipment at both sites (refrigeration, air conditioning, exhaust fans), cable car motors, backup generators, security and gate closures.”

The report also acknowledges its shortcomings to other elements of the proposal, stating –

“Residents at Old Farm Rd in particular have concerns at noise and other amenity factors arising from introduction of new commercial activity in the area. South Hobart residents are concerned at increased traffic. Bushwalkers have stated concerns about loss of natural tranquillity along the many trails on the mountain. There are many other controversial aspects of the project that fall outside the strict scope of noise assessment, some of which may have commonality. This part of the study has not addressed the proposed new access road or suburban traffic.”

The acceptable solution for this criterion requires “Noise from point sources must not exceed 50 dB(A) at any point within 50m of the source.” This requirement is not met by the Acoustic Assessment, despite its limited scope. The performance measure against this criterion requires “Activities which could have an adverse effect on the quiet enjoyment of natural and cultural values must be avoided or remedied to prevent any loss of acoustic amenity in the Park.”

The limited nature of the Acoustic Assessment means that this criterion cannot properly be assessed.



The Mount Wellington Cable Car Development Application attempts to classify the Base Station as a ‘Transport Depot and Distribution’ use class under the Wellington Park Management Plan, and ‘Tourist Operation’ under the Hobart Interim Planning Scheme 2015 (Planning Assessment Report p. 14).

They can’t have it both ways. The Hobart Interim Planning Scheme 2015 describes the ‘Transport depot and distribution’ use class as –

“use of land for distributing goods or passengers, or to park or garage vehicles associated with those activities, other than Port and shipping. Examples include an airport, bus terminal, council depot, heliport, mail centre, railway station, road or rail freight terminal and taxi depot.”

This is clearly the appropriate use classification under the Hobart Interim Planning Scheme 2015. This use class is prohibited in the Environmental Management Zone under the Hobart Interim Planning Scheme 2015, where the base station is proposed to be located.

Of all the use class conflicts in this proposal, this is the most fatal to the proposal as a whole. This prohibited use cannot be rectified without rendering virtually the whole application redundant.


Under the Pinnacle Specific Area Plan in the Wellington Park Management Plan the only discretionary uses for a ‘Tourist Operation’ are visitor centres, interpretation centres, viewing shelters, as well as ancillary uses to these (page 171).

The Mount Wellington Cable Car Development Application attempts to classify the indoor and outdoor Amphitheatres as ‘scenic viewing areas’ under a ‘Tourist Operation’ (Planning Assessment Report p. 22).

There is no elaboration by MWCC on what these amphitheatres are in the planning documents. The Oxford dictionary defines an amphitheatre as, “an open circular or oval building with a central space surrounded by tiers of seats for spectators, for the presentation of dramatic or sporting events.”

The MWCC website classifies these buildings as a “community event space” for “story-telling, music, wedding photos and school excursions”. This is supported by the inclusion of a podium in the architectural drawings (p. 12).

The attempt to classify these buildings as ‘scenic viewing areas’, with no further elaboration of their purpose in the planning documents, is deliberately duplicitous.

The amphitheatres are not visitor centres, interpretation centres, viewing shelters, or an ancillary use to one of these uses. Therefor the Pinnacle Specific Area Plan does not allow for these facilities.

In addition to this use issue, the obfuscation of the purpose of the amphitheatres has resulted in no assessment of the amenity impacts on other visitors. Of particular relevance is the impacts of noise on other users of the Park – this is a particular risk for the outdoor amphitheatre.


The Planning Assessment Report variously describes a ‘function room’, ‘function space’ and a ‘function centre’. ‘Function centre’ is only used once (p. 155) and ‘function space’ does not appear in any use tables, so it is assumed these are all one and the same.

The Planning Assessment Report makes the claim –

“Unlike the structure of interim planning schemes, the table of uses in the SAP does not default unlisted uses as otherwise prohibited. S1.5 of the PSAP  states that use (and development) has (P), (D) and (X) use status designated to the selected uses in the use table. Only one use is designated a prohibited use status, which is camping. As the function centre does not fall within the definition of camping, it is not a prohibited use.”

This is inaccurate. The use classification (p. 154) assigns Tourist Operation as the use class, which under the Pinnacle Specific Area Plan can only be used for visitor centres, interpretation centres, viewing shelters, as well as ancillary uses to these (page 171 Wellington Park Management Plan).

The function room is therefore prohibited under the Wellington Park Management Plan.


We submit that this proposal should be rejected on the following grounds –

1. It does not have the support of Aboriginal Tasmanians.

2. It fails to meet the required special circumstances in the biodiversity code by failing to demonstrate “significant long term social or economic community benefits” as well as failure to consider other routes.

3. It fails to satisfy standards for use and development required by the Wellington Park Management Plan, including Aboriginal Heritage, Threatened Species, Visual Sensitivity, and Noise standards.

4. It contains uses that are prohibited by both the Wellington Park Management Plan or the Hobart Interim Planning Scheme 2015, including the Base Station in its entirety, and the two Amphitheatres and a Function Room as part of the Pinnacle Centre.

5. While some of these failures may be possible to remedy with design alterations and additional assessments, some are fundamentally fatal to the proposal – particularly the prohibited use for the Base Station, and the impacts on Threatened Species.

Yours sincerely,

Cassy O’Connor MP

Tasmanian Greens’ Leader

Member for Clark

1 Greg Bearup, The Mona effect, The Australian, June 2021

2 Philip Watson, Joshua Wilson, Dawn Thilmany, and Susan Winter, Determining Economic Contributions and Impacts: What is the difference and why do we care?, Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, 37(2), p. 17.