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Dispute over private sector developments in Victoria’s national parks

Dispute over private sector developments in Victoria’s national parks
June 3, 2013

The Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) have claimed that new legislation will effectively put Victoria's national parks "up for sale" with 99 year development leases set to be allowed in the state's most important parks.

Victorian National Parks Association Executive Director Matt Ruchel explained "This new legislation hangs a 'for sale' sign on Victoria's most cherished national parks by allowing 99 year leases.

"These 99 year leases are as good as private ownership of Victoria's prime conservation areas, and represent a betrayal by this state government of long-term bipartisan support for national parks protection.

"Handing developers 99 year leases is effectively selling some of Victoria's most valuable conservation land. Any developments requiring such a long lease will likely be on large scales that will only grow bigger over time, threatening the long-term integrity of our national parks.

"There is no need for private development inside Victoria's parks, which are almost all within easy reach of accommodation and services found in regional towns.

"The (Victorian) Government needs to start acting like a steward of our most important natural areas, not a real estate developer.

"It is the major investors who will benefit most from private developments in parks, not the majority of park visitors and certainly not the parks themselves.

"There is no evidence private developments in parks contribute to the management of parks. International and national examples prove they often take resources away from much-needed conservation management.

"For good reason less than one per cent of 20,000 national parks worldwide have any significant tourism infrastructure within them. And most of these developments pre-date park establishment or are on pre-existing parcels of private land."

However, a Victorian Goverment spokesperson has claimed that the credibility of the VNPA has been "seriously damaged" as a result of what Media Spokesperson James Martin says are "misleading comments ... that wilderness and remote areas in national parks are being opened up for (development) leases."

Martin explains that the Victorian Government's guidelines for potential eco-tourism opportunities in national parks, and legislation presented to the Victorian Parliament state that "leases cannot be granted over land in parks where development is clearly not appropriate in particular, in wilderness parks and wilderness zones, remote and natural areas, reference areas, the designated water supply catchment areas in the Great Otway, Kinglake and Yarra Ranges national parks, and natural catchment areas under the Heritage Rivers Act 1992."

Martin continued "the frequent alarmist and often incorrect claims of the VNPA and its executive director, Mr Ruchel, reinforce the lobby group's complete opposition to sensible and sensitive development and to allowing Victorians the opportunity to visit and enjoy their natural environment.

"While the VNPA is intent on locking up our national parks and throwing away the key, by contrast the Victorian Coalition Government is committed to supporting appropriate and sustainable access to our national parks for all Victorians and for interstate and overseas visitors."

For more information visit on the VNPA's claims, visit the 'Hands off our Parks' page at!





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