The Tasmanian Government has made the decision to not proceed with the submission of a Public Environment Report to reopen three tracks south of Sandy Cape in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area (APCA).
In preparation for the Public Environment Report, the Government received a cultural heritage report in relation to the three tracks which indicated that there is an unacceptable risk to Aboriginal cultural heritage, with no feasible mitigation measures to protect the values.
The government’s priority has always been the need to protect the significant cultural and natural values within the APCA, while allowing Tasmanians to fish, camp and recreate and holiday within the landscape. These activities will continue for generations to come, however off-road vehicle use will not be able to be permitted on tracks 501, 503 and 601.
The Government will undertake a feasibility study into the identification of off-road vehicle opportunities on Tasmania’s West Coast and will consider the relevance of existing planning documents in relation to the APCA and the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape (WTACL) to determine if a review of those documents is warranted.
The Government will also commit to increasing management and enforcement of regulations in the APCA with an increase to resourcing of the Parks and Wildlife Service at Arthur River, as well as undertaking a review of the legislative tools available to PWS staff to deal with behaviour which poses a risk to the areas values.
APCA Cultural Heritage Review (2Mb)
Please note culturally sensitive information has been removed from this report to protect the location and significance of sites identified during the assessment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why has the Government decided to not continue with the Public Environment Report (PER)?
The Government received a cultural heritage report in relation to the three tracks which indicated that there is an unacceptable risk to Aboriginal cultural heritage, with no feasible mitigation measures to protect the values as required under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Why did the government pursue the reopening of tracks in the APCA?
The Tasmanian Government supports a range of recreational activities, such as off-road driving, while protecting the significant Aboriginal heritage values in the APCA. As the APCA has previously been used by Tasmanians for this purpose, and the government committed to exploring ways to allow access while protecting cultural values.
Why did the proposal have to be assessed under the EPBC Act?
The EPBC Act is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. The EPBC Act is used when a proposal has the potential to have a significant impact on natural or cultural values listed under the Act. The proposal to open the tracks may have an impact on listed species and communities and the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape (WTACL), a National Heritage Listed Place, which is also listed under the EPBC Act. In order to ensure that an assessment of the significance of the proposal on these values was undertaken, DPIPWE referred the proposal to the then Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy (now Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment). It was then determined that the proposal should undergo further assessment under the Act.
What were the main findings of the preliminary work?
The preliminary work identified significant areas of cultural heritage where the passage of the track route through these is unavoidable and that some areas of the track intersect cultural heritage directly. There is also a risk that even if opened, the tracks would constantly be at risk of closed because of the ongoing exposure of cultural heritage values.
How much has the assessments to reopen the tracks cost the Government to date?
To date, the assessments have cost less than $450,000. All the assessments have provided information, including new information of the area’s values, which will be critical in the future management of the area.
What options will off-road driving enthusiasts be given to explore the West Coast?
There are many trails in the APCA that remain open for use. A significant investment of up to $10M will deliver new and improved recreational driving opportunities across the West Coast such as improvements to tracks at Sandy Cape, the Balfour Track as well as other key recreational vehicle routes and facilities.
How long will this take to be developed?
The work will be undertaken over the next three years and will be broken down into separate areas, through a fully funded package of works.
What will the Government do to protect the Aboriginal values found in the report?
The Government has always protected the values that exist. The Government has also committed to increase the management and enforcement of regulations in the APCA with an increase to the resourcing of the Parks and Wildlife Service at Arthur River, as well as undertaking a review of the legislative tools available to PWS staff to deal with behaviour which poses a risk to the areas values.
Who did the Government consult in the lead up to the announcement that tracks would not reopen?
Several stakeholders were briefed prior to the announcement including the Tasmanian Aboriginal Council. This follows normal stakeholder engagement practices.