Monday, December 7, 2009

seeking a balance - not a great lookout for sillers!

Seeking a Balance's view of Siller's Lookout - click for larger version on flickrThere's no more famous image of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary than the one at left. This view of Siller's Lookout, terminus of the outward-bound leg of the Ridgetop Tour (a party of which can be seen here on the summit) is known across Australia and the world. It's one of the iconic images of South Australian tourism, and Australian eco-tourism, full stop!

In fact, this version of the image is taken from the state government's own 'Seeking a Balance - Conservation and resource use in the Northern Flinders Ranges' (SaB) document.

the iconic Siller's Lookout - click for larger version on flickrBut the image is used very widely - the most well-known variant being Arkaroola's own take, as used, in the example at right, in The Wilderness Society's advertisement highlighting the risk mining poses to the area.

Referring to his then newly-released 'Seeking a Balance' plan, South Australia's Environment Minister Jay Weatherill told the ABC News on the 28th of October this year -

"I think what people need to rest assured about is that when they think about Arkaroola and they think about the iconic spots, the things that they have in their minds will be now [be] protected"

As I've said, there's no more iconic image of the Sanctuary than this view of Siller's - with the lookout massif in the foreground, and the ranges on the southern flank of lower Yudnamutana Gorge rolling off to the plains and Lake Frome behind.

But in 'Seeking a Balance' the Minister has not seen fit to grant any extra protection to Siller's Lookout, nor the bulk of the country you can see in the background in these iconic images!

Seeking a Balance assigns Siller's Lookout - click for larger version on flickrThat's right - in his plan this area is consigned (along with the bulk of the region) to Access Zone 3 (the 'yellow zone': see the detail of SaB's own map at left) - open to standard mineral exploration and mining access, with no approval required for either activity from the Department for the Environment!

A discussion of the inadequacies of the proposed zoning system, with particular regard to the apparent conflict with the Planning Act's existing 'Class A Environmental Zone' for the Flinders Ranges - inadequacies that remain even when it comes to those areas supposedly afforded a 'higher' level of protection - can be found in the previous post - a Class A confusion.

But to choose not to assign a higher level of protection to the icon area of Arkaroola, and then to tell the public you've 'protected' all 'the things they have in their minds... when they think about Arkaroola' - well, it's breathtaking, isn't it? But not as in 'what a breathtaking view!'

don't submit - make submissions!

No, you don't have to subscribe to the logic of planning for mining access to the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary and simultaneously proclaiming that it's been protected! Nor play-along with tweaking the boundaries of access and planning zones that overlap and contradict each other.

Make a submission on Seeking a Balance. They don't have to be long and complicated. You are completely entitled to express an opinion that mining is not a suitable option for the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary without having to enter into detailed discussion of the intricacies of Class A Zoning versus SaB access zoning, or discussion of why there are no linking biological corridors running north to south in the Government's plan, or any other of the broad range of issues the plan raises. Not if you don't wish to.

In fact, I'd argue that because SaB and the existing Class A Zone provisions are in such obvious conflict, and because we have no definition provided for any of the allowable mining 'infrastructure' associated with SaB (but explicitly excluded by class A), it's actually difficult to assess the implications of Seeking a Balance, full stop!

But it's clear that the mining industry cannot expect to have the run of the whole state - and since they tell us 'certainty' is what they crave, let them be certain that these wild ranges are off-limits!

Submissions on Seeking a Balance are due in on December 19th. They can be e-mailed or posted to -

Phone: (+61 8) 8124 4707
Post: Mr Jason Irving
Manager Policy and Planning
Department for Environment and Heritage
GPO Box 1047
Adelaide SA 5001

Phone: (+61 8) 8463 3033
Post: Dr Ted Tyne
Director, Mineral Resources
Primary Industries and Resources SA
GPO Box 1671
Adelaide SA 5001

for example

I've attached the first example submission on SaB below. It's written from the perspective of someone who is pro-mining, but, as they say, not at any cost! I am hoping that a series of such submissions will shortly be appearing on the Save Arkaroola website.

Dear Dr Tyne & Mr Irving

I am writing to you to strongly urge you to reconsider the Proposed Management Zones for the northeastern region of the Northern Flinders Ranges as indicated in the document Seeking a Balance.

I consider myself pro-mining and am All for economic benefit for the State of South Australia – BUT NOT AT ANY COST !

I enjoy bushwalking, camping and nature and I have visited the beautiful, stunning and quite magnificent Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary many times. I have also taken the exciting four wheel drive Ridgetop Tour through this iconic area, much of which, under the proposed zoning would become Access Zone 3: for Standard exploration and mining access.

It is my belief that this environmentally fragile region, which is currently suffering under more than a decade of drought, at least in the foreseeable future, would be irreparably damaged by current mining and exploration techniques. Many species are under considerable threat to their survival, and additional pressure could be catastrophic for them particularly given global warming.

To quote 'Seeking a Balance' itself - 'much of the Northern Flinders Ranges lies within the Development Plan’s Environmental Class A Zone. The prime objectives of the Environmental Class A Zone seek to conserve the natural character and environment of the area and to protect the landscape from damage by mining operations and exploring for new resources.'

I believe it would be better to strengthen the existing Class A Environmental standards rather than bringing in a whole new raft of legislation.

The Development Act says ‘Mining operations should not take place here unless the deposits are of such paramount significance that all other environment, heritage or conservation considerations may be overridden’ and that ‘exploitation of the deposits is in the National or State interest’ and that ‘investigations have show that alternative deposits are not available on other land in the locality..’

I believe it is pointless and dangerous to risk the introduction of new legislation when the current simply needs tweeking. Present techniques are too risky and likely to cause environmental, cultural, tourism and/or other damage and will be a blight on the landscape for decades to come.

Please follow the advice of moderation and withdraw the Management Zoning proposals mooted in Seeking a Balance.


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thanks for your contribution - bill - i'm genuinely sorry about having to switch on the 'moderation' process but comment spammers have really been cluttering up this journal!