Public consultation on the Light to Light Walk Draft Review of Environmental Factors closes this Friday, October 15, one month after its release.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) information states the Light to Light Walk project proposes to upgrade and realign sections of the current track, construct new sections of walking track, and provide hut and lighthouse style accommodation and walk-in camping options for walkers in Ben Boyd National Park, "allowing visitors to undertake an immersive nature-based multi-day walk experience".
The Green Cape Fishing Alliance (GCFA) recently made a submission in response to the review, and spoke with ACM this week about it.
Former Nadgee resident Mick Ripon is part of the group of dedicated fishers who enjoy the challenges of fishing in remote wild places such as Green Cape, within Ben Boyd National Park.
Mr Ripon said Green Cape was acclaimed worldwide as a premier land-based game fishing location and a significant number of Australian National Sportfishing Association (ANSA) records have been claimed from the location.
"The state of NSW is heavily developed, not many unspoiled corners like Ben Boyd National Park remain," Mr Ripon said.
"The proposed hut developments will significantly degrade both the wilderness aspect and the sense of remoteness that our members and other park users enjoy.
"Basically, we oppose the development of hut accommodation at both Hegarty's Bay and Mowarry Point," Mr Ripon said.
NPWS information states the two sites have been identified as appropriate for hut accommodation and that the design and development "will be in keeping with park values for sustainability, visual amenity and environmental and conservation values".
"It's understood that NPWS would still own the facility, but at the end of the day it would be run by private business. What's lost in the whole thing is the basic purpose of the national park, to protect the natural environment and ecosystems - Green Cape and the surrounding area is a refuge for endangered species," Mr Ripon said.
GCFA members fish a wide range of locations around Australia and overseas and Mr Ripon said they were concerned that many of the wild places they fish are at risk, with similar developments having taken place in other locations.
"Under the guise of 'eco walks', 'wilderness lodges' and 'opening up Parks', there is a commercial agenda being driven by big business," he said.
"We are concerned that once these developments are allowed to proceed and become established, they will change the natural environment forever, which would be a very significant cost.
"There is no justification for taxpayers to fund substantial accommodation infrastructure on a pristine wilderness coast.
"This is particularly concerning given the decrease in funding for NSW National Parks over recent years - despite visitor numbers increasing.
"There will be no turning back once development is allowed. Wilderness is becoming more scarce worldwide, and we need to be mindful of not degrading the very essence of what we are seeking," Mr Ripon said.
In the review, the size of the proposed activity footprint is outlined, showing that the proposal would have a direct impact of 2.9ha and an indirect impact of 2.83ha.
GCFA said it accepted the proposal to upgrade the walking track, provided all environmental and cultural aspects were properly addressed.
However, Mr Ripon said he held concerns there was a class distinction between users who would pay thousands of dollars to access the walk and existing users.
"Parks belong to everybody, to future generations. I am concerned it's the beginning of the end, we need to look after and protect this fantastic and special place."
NPWS said all submissions would be reviewed and a report will be provided to the determining authority.
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