Submission opposing the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing

On 17 September 2022, Keep It Wild made a submission to the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing (FHAC) Draft Designs consultation process.

This submission raised a number of objections relating to:

  1. The identified need which states the problem as:
    • Lack of a hero walking experience in the region is limiting potential visitation growth
    • Lack of diverse overnight accommodation and product options along trail is limiting accessibility for a range of users
    • Current funding model for infrastructure is inadequate to deliver ongoing maintenance leading to poor visitor experience
  2. The National Parks Act 1975 Preamble which states; WHEREAS it is in the public interest that certain Crown land characterised by its predominantly unspoilt landscape, and its flora, fauna, or other features, should be reserved and preserved and protected permanently for the benefit of the public.
  3. the NATIONAL PARKS ACT 1975 – SECT 21C: Protection of remote and natural areas. I refer specifically to the Bundara–Cobungra Remote and Natural Area (RNA) which is traversed on day two of the FHAC. As this RNA is of national significance, I believe it is critical that no trail realignments or upgrades take place and no overnight nodes or signage be constructed within this RNA.
  4. The conflict with the Victorian government (ALP) policy that “It is still government policy that tourism development will be encouraged to be sited on private or other public land outside national parks”.
  5. Overwhelming public opposition. Following a process of public consultation, there was overwhelming public rejection of the FHAC in its current form. Between 85 and 90% of the written submissions rejected the current FHAC proposal.
  6. The effect of the FHAC as described in the Management Plan is in opposition to the Victorian government’s values around social equity. While the current business plan does not identify specific overnight private accommodation costs, it does provide benchmarking that averages $676.80 per visitor per night.
  7. The likelihood that $34M of taxpayer dollars will be wasted due to poor economic analysis in the Master Plan. This includes the projected walker numbers and the estimated benefits including multipliers.
  8. The route proposed by the Master Plan is likely to lead to a model that excludes local business from accommodation provision during the FHAC.
  9.  That the FHAC as currently proposed will have a major detrimental environmental impact on sensitive areas within the Alpine National Park. This will include major earth works, excavation, construction, helicopter intrusion, increased traffic, removal of human waste, servicing, and maintenance of facilities.

The full submission can be accessed below.