Wilderness Australia has described the public consultation process for tourism developments in the Gardens of Stone, announced just over one year ago by Dominic Perrottet, as a “sham”. It comes after no substantive information regarding multiple resorts and a theme park over the iconic Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area was provided to the public despite the NSW Government holding a 'consultation' over the new year break. The only details published by the NSW Government on the 20 year commercial leases were the names of the companies who would run the developments, and a “mud map” of where the leases may go.

Keith Muir, spokesperson for Wilderness Australia, said “we are talking about a protected public reserve that is being given away for exclusive commercial uses. Community views on how this should work, and if it should happen at all - are essential. The NSW Government’s pre-election attempt to bury this significant social and environmental threat to the Lithgow community is astounding.

“Wilderness Australia calls on the NSW Labor Opposition to oppose these leases and to ensure a sustainable tourist economy for Lithgow so that the unique environment at the Gardens of Stone can thrive and be enjoyed by all.

“The adventure theme park where children will be playing is near Lithgow and beside the Marrangaroo Military Base where live ammunition is used. Another lease covering four accommodation sites is in a remote and scenic part of the western Blue Mountains conservation area. There is a lot for the community to digest and respond to here.

Wilderness Australia slammed the NSW Government for conducting this consultation over the summer holidays, when by convention controversial proposals usually are set aside.  

“The consultation period ends today, just when people are just beginning to refocus after a break. How is it fair or reasonable to issue leases over a conservation reserve when people hardly get a chance to comment and have so little information to consider?” Mr Muir asked.

“Granting leases over a conservation reserve before these theme parks and accommodation proposals are put out for public comment places more risk on the NSW Government and the environment. Currently the adventure theme park site is not entirely owned by the NPWS, and the locations for the accommodation resorts aren’t finalised, so there’s a lot of uncertainty over even basic information. Why should the public trust the NSW Government to issue a commercial lease when it has not released the basic aspects of the leases they are proposing to issue?

“Transparency on the leases and the development details are entirely lacking. It’s a development deal over a conservation reserve done behind closed doors that will have substantial impacts on this public reserve.

Keith Muir is available for an interview on 0412 791 404.
Wilderness Australia can be contacted during office hours on (02) 9261 2400.

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