Current Hobart City Council (HCC) policy is to prohibit the cable car development on HCC land. In an attempt to reverse this policy the Mount Wellington Cableway Company (MWCC) is spending big on print, radio and social media advertising to sway the election in favour of pro-cable car Aldermen.
The MWCC proposal is anything but environmentally friendly. It would despoil an ancient landscape and Aboriginal heritage with destructive new roads, massive towers, wires, aerial buses and a large building and more traffic at the Pinnacle. The experience of looking at and being on the mountain would be changed forever. The future of kunanyi/Mt Wellington would be tied to mass tourism and the commercial interests of a developer.
Proponents of the cable car argue that it is already scarred, pointing to the road, towers, shelter and toilets. But the cable car development would add a level of impact that goes far beyond this, fundamentally changing the character of what is still a largely natural landscape.
The base station
The proposed access to the base station would be a new bulldozed road, 2.3 km long and 12 to 18 metres wide, that would cut a swathe through threatened silver peppermint woodland. High levels of evening traffic would make it a road-kill hot spot for the Tasmanian devils, wallabies, quolls, bandicoots, echidnas, raptors and owls that make that woodland home. The area cleared for the road would be greater than 4 soccer fields!
The base station site would be carved out of forest and a grassy firebreak on the lower slopes of the mountain. Just 55 car parking spaces are allocated in the MWCC plan but this is simply not credible. At its projected peak capacity the cable car could carry 660 people each way per hour. If half of those people arrived by bus, and each car that arrived held 3 people, the carpark would reach capacity in around 35 minutes! A car park at least four times bigger than that proposed by MWCC would be required, necessitating further large-scale earthworks.
A massive 36 metre concrete and steel tower, engineered to support the 2.1km span of the proposed cableway and the two cable cars during frequent extreme winds, would stand above the Organ Pipes cliffs. This tower would be more than 1/4 the height of the existing main telecommunications tower and just as wide. It would be clearly visible from many areas in and around Hobart.
Forest clearing and service roads would be required for the two cableway towers near the base station. These towers would be 55 metres high, 3/4 the height of Wrest Point Casino!
Aerial buses over the Organ Pipes
The cable cars would cross directly over the towering cliffs of the Organ Pipes. Popular walking and cycling tracks and climbing routes would be compromised by aerial buses, carrying up to 80 people, passing overhead. In busy periods a carriage would pass every five minutes. Moving objects stand out and metal and glass reflect sunlight. The steady flow of carriages would be very visible.
The MWCC proposal targets the Organ Pipes so that visitors can be charged higher ticket prices. In a secret facebook post in July 2018 Adrian Bold, CEO of MWCC, said that “The experience from the Quarry (an alternative route from Lenah Valley) would miss the Organ Pipes, which relates to what ticket price the operation can command to stack up and compete with the road staying free and open.” Mr Bold further speculated that “Some will say it (the cable car) enhances the view…especially for those in the café watching the cabin rise or drop down over the Organ Pipes…”
Summit function centre
The 4000 square metre, three-storey function centre would sprawl 165 metres across the fragile alpine summit of kunanyi. Construction impacts would be massive. Service access, walkways, bike paths, snow grooming, launching pads and trampling would extend over a larger area again. Once entrenched, future infrastructure expansion to accommodate commercial interests would be inevitable.
Claims that traffic on the Pinnacle Road would be reduced are fanciful. The lure of restaurants and other facilities at the summit would dramatically increase overall visitation, but many tourists would not pay $200 or more for a family to go on a 6 to 10 minute cable car ride, and would drive instead. Locals would be unlikely to pay for repeat visits and would use the road to access walks at the Springs or the Chalet. More cars on the Pinnacle Road would increase CO2 emissions and more visitors and longer stays would necessitate an enlarged Pinnacle car park.
South Hobart traffic
Increased traffic in South Hobart would make congestion on Cascade Road and Davey Street much worse. MWCC has proposed a complex new junction at the intersection of Cascade Road and McRobies Road but has not offered to pay for it. We can only assume that Hobart ratepayers would foot the bill!
Our mountain is precious
The delightful natural setting of mountain and river is a large part of why many of us choose to live in Hobart. The mountain is a part of who we are. There is no other Australian city, and few in the world, privileged with such a wild and beautiful landscape close by. The natural forested mountain slopes and the soaring, untrammeled dolerite columns of the Organ Pipes are the ever-present backdrop to our lives.
Let’s vote to keep it that way.