The 4000 square metre, three-storey function centre would sprawl across 165 metres of fragile alpine habitat at the summit, with construction impacts and infrastructure extending over a larger area again. Once entrenched, future expansion to accommodate commercial interests would be very likely.
MWCC touts summit recreation prospects but the reality would be less than the hype. Days suitable for snow sports are already rare and will become more so with warming mountain temperatures. Aerial cables and would make paragliding hazardous in any weather conditions. Wellington Park Management Trust and the HCC have comprehensive policies for visitor services at the Springs, where there is already an extensive network of walking and biking tracks.
The proposed access to the base station is a new road, 2.3 km long and 12 to 18 metres wide, bulldozed across steep slopes through threatened silver peppermint forest. Evening traffic would create 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 planned. However, the cableway could carry up to 660 people per hour and if half of those people arrived by bus, and each car held 3 people, the carpark would be full in 35 minutes! A much larger car park would be required, necessitating further large-scale earthworks.
A massive 36 metre tower, engineered to support the 2.1km span of the proposed cableway and cable cars during frequent extreme winds, would stand above the Organ Pipes. It would be clearly visible from many areas in and around Hobart. Significant tree clearing would be required for the two 55 metre towers – 3/4 the height of Wrest Point Casino, near the base station.
AERIAL BUSES OVER THE ORGAN PIPES
Large aerial buses carrying up to 80 people would pass over the cliffs of the Organ Pipes as frequently as every five minutes. Overhead cables and passing carriages would compromise the experience of walkers, bikers and climbers. Moving objects stand out and metal and glass reflect sunlight – the steady flow of cable cars would be very visible.
MWCC has disclosed that one reason to target the iconic Organ Pipes is so that visitors could be charged higher ticket prices. MWCC also suggests that the cable car may “enhance the view” as it rises or drops down over the Organ Pipes.