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Hunter Developments Application for Rosny Hill Reserve

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Tags: Rosny Hill, Threatened Species, Environment, Planning

Hunter Developments Application for Rosny Hill Reserve, Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP, 23 September 2020


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to speak on behalf of the Rosny Hill Friends Network who are currently appealing the Hunter Developments application to build an enormous private hotel right in the middle of the Rosny Hill nature recreation area, beautiful place that it is.

Only through a successful community fundraising campaign can they afford the proponent's repeated adjournments and their fight against this development will continue. The Nature Conservation Act is clear that Rosny Hill Reserve is for public recreation and education consistent with conserving the natural and cultural values of the area of land. It is not a private hotel.

It is those natural values I want to speak about today and in particular Thelymitra bracteate, or the leafy sun orchid, which makes Rosny Hill its own special home.

It is called the leafy sun orchid because it only flowers during hot weather and particularly likes sunny hilltops like Rosny Hill. That orchid reproduces from seed in association with mycorrhizal fungi and it has a very complex symbiotic relationship. It is a lovely blue orchid classed as endangered under Threatened Species Act. DPIPWE's 2010 Tasmania Threatened Species Listing Statement records Rosny Hill as the only known population in the state. It had approximately 60 mature plants in 2010 but six years later in 2016, a survey revised that number down to just 30 individual plants. It is a glorious orchid and is desperately endangered and Rosny Hill is its special place.

Threats to that orchid that were identified to DPIPWE include land-clearing, inappropriate disturbance, weeds and climate change.

DPIPWE recommended that the leafy sun orchid must be considered in any proposals to further develop that site. The Clarence City mayor and Hunter Developments will tell you that building a giant hotel on top of the leafy sun orchid's patch is not a problem and that the additional pedestrian traffic and movements of people can be managed, but that does not pass the pub test.

It turns out that the Threatened Species Unit in DPIPWE is still advocating for the leafy sun orchid, and good on them, despite the continued cuts to their resources. We have a right to information disclosure that was sent to me of a series of emails on 10 October last year that make it very clear what the Threatened Species Unit's senior conservation management officer thinks about how inappropriate this development really is.

The senior conservation officer is extremely critical of the greenwashing of the proponents reports and is worried about the orchid's future should the hotel go ahead. The RTI reveals, for example, claims by Hunter Developments that the proposal will 'replenish threatened vegetation' were dismissed by the officer as being unjustified.

The officer said he was 'doubtful that the leafy sun orchid can be adequately conserved in the long term under this proposal'. He also said that because the proposal would attract more people and cars to the site, therefore he expects 'more trampling and physical disturbance to native vegetation within the vicinity of car parks and other infrastructure'. The officer also said in the RTI that after reading Hunter Developments' landscape design plans and planning report he had -

… serious concerns about the ability of the proposal to appropriately protect and manage the natural values within the nature recreation area, particularly the leafy sun orchid thelymitra bracteata.

The proponent's claims that the orchids could be translocated to another area and therefore, in their words, are protected, were also met with scepticism by the Threatened Species Unit management officer, who questioned that as being implausible. Indeed, it would be an Australian first because of the complex mycorrhizal associations between the fungi and other plants which means that that orchid has never been successfully relocated in its history.

Another email from the senior conservation officer was about whether the officer had read the most recent Hunter Developments assessment of the impact on the orchid that was done by North Baker Ecosystem Services and asked whether the information was up-to-date. The conservation management officer said -

Yes, in light of that, my comments remain. The information about the management of the orchid is pretty scant! Certainly, no improvements in their security'.

Has Mr Jaensch seen the reports from his department? Or is this another case of a Liberal minister shutting down experts in the department in the pursuit of the development agenda? Is he keeping himself clear of the expert advice that has been made available in his department because he must ask them on behalf of the community what the experts say? They will tell them that the hotel development should never have been allowed to go ahead because the orchid relies on the sunny Rosny Hill to survive, not to mention the huge lists of other community concerns around that development.

Consent should never have been given for that development application to be lodged, to build a private hotel on Crown land in a nature recreation area with one of the most beautiful views in Hobart. The minister has to refuse to give authority for this proposal to go ahead. He should have done his job in the first place and not let the proposal go as far as it has. He now has a whole community fund-raising in its own time and with its own resources to take this fight through the Resource Management Planning and Appeal Tribunal.

It is a disgrace that the minister has continued to sit on the fence and not clarified whether or not that giant hotel would protect the orchid. It is impossible to do so. We want the minister to come out on behalf of the community, put them out of the pain and effort they are going to and call it for what it is, a proposal that should never have existed.