We at FoMH feel that the new 50 year lease arrangement is a secret backroom deal which was unannounced (except by Senator Leyonhjelm on Facebook), undiscussed and decidedly underhanded. There was no consultation at all. Just a few months ago we had the shooters and Minister Hunt in agreement that the rifle range would be relocated to another facility in “3, 5 or even 17 years”, and now NSWRA have a new confidential 50 year lease signed sealed and delivered.
It seems that there will be a massive increase in shooting days from the current one or two days per week to 5 days per week. This would mean that the new Eastern National Park would only be open to the public on two days per week, and perhaps not at all on weekends. We think this is an unacceptable situation that could have been avoided if consultation had occurred between ALL the stakeholders of Malabar Headland prior to signing any new lease. This is public land after all.
FoMH was not consulted or notified of the new lease. NPWS were also not consulted and had to confront the NSWRA in a meeting about the news! Local residents were not consulted about the increased shooting days.
FoMH has always recognised that without the Rifle Range, there would probably be no bush now to protect, and we do not view the new 50 year lease as a negative in regard to the protection of the precious ESBS bush. The continued presence of shooters should mean that there can be no development on the headland, although we don’t know the terms and conditions of the lease. We do know that our vision for the whole of Malabar Headland is now many more years away.
It is disappointing that the landfill will not be remediated any time soon, and that the Rifle Range will not become Public Open Space in the near future, but we appreciate that fixing the landfill is a very expensive proposition for any government and we wonder why/how shooters and horses/riders can utilise the unremediated landfill areas safely.
People are quite rightly upset about the complete lack of community consultation in this new lease arrangement and the secrecy associated with the terms of the lease, and how things have changed so quickly from the earlier statements of Minister Hunt. They are confused about how a new National Park can be closed 5 days a week and on weekends. They are worried about noise from increased shooting.
We trust that NPWS and the shooters will work closely together to ensure that there is a satisfactory compromise between public access and shooting access. We understand that if the shooters are not active on any particular day, the Eastern walkway will be accessible, and NPWS will leave the gates in the new fence open at all times EXCEPT when they are shooting. The eastern walkway is progressing at a fast pace, and will be opened very soon. We are hoping for an invite to the opening.
We will be working hard to ensure fair public access to the Eastern walkway and National Park! Why not join us?