Kosciuszko National Park is NSW’s biggest. It’s an area of extraordinary beauty and ecological significance, protecting rare alpine ecosystems that cover just 0.001% of the Australian continent. 

It is home to many threatened animals like the Northern Corroboree Frog, Southern Corroboree Frog, Alpine Water Skink, Alpine Spiny Crayfish, Alpine She-oak Skink and Alpine Tree Frog along with myriad native plants.

Australia’s greatest river, the Murray, rises in Kosciuszko, as do the Snowy and Murrumbidgee. Together with the Darling, the Murray and Murrumbidgee are the life blood of inland Australia. Back in 1955, Riverina farmers were horrified by the impacts heavy, hard hooved animals—cattle—were having on water catchments, and this led to the removal of grazing in 1969.

Yet apparently none of this matters in our brave new world where science and the common good are discarded for  political gain.

 

Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018

On 6th June 2018, the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill 2018, was passed by the Legislative Council meaning that the legislation is effectively set to become law. Protecting the feral horses that   inhabit nearly 50% of Kosciuszko will lock in negative impacts to Australian native alpine species, ecosystems and water catchments.

The NSW Coalition Government has undermined its own NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee which at the end of April issued a preliminary determination for consultation supporting the listing of habitat degradation and loss by feral horses as a key threatening process under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

This led to the prompt resignation of Professor Dave Watson from the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee who stated in his resignation letter “The wilful disregard that you and your government colleagues have for science diminishes our collective future, relegating our precious national parks and priceless environment to political playthings”.

The legislation values an introduced species over threatened native species and undermines the National Parks and Wildlife Act, the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management and existing advisory mechanisms.

The decision to introduce the legislation has effectively destroyed the painstaking consultation undertaken by the National Parks and Wildlife Service since 2013 to develop the Wild Horse Management Plan in favour of a small, vociferous and well-connected lobby group over the public interest.

On 8 November, esteemed scientists presented overwhelming evidence of the damage feral horses are causing to the biodiversity values of Kosciuszko National Park at a conference in Canberra. The abstracts for the conference have been published and can be downloaded here.

Dead horse on dry river bed
Feral horses do not belong in Kosciuszko. Winters in the alpine region are harsh for feral horses resulting in large numbers of slow, cruel deaths as the photo taken recently by NPA member David Gallan shows

 

NPA strongly believes that:

  • the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill 2018 should be abandoned before it is commenced;

and

  • the 2016 Wild Horse Management Plan should be implemented without further delay as a first step in managing feral horses.

Only in this way can we start to manage the wide-scale destruction by the 6000+ feral horses of this much loved National Heritage listed park.

NPA will continue campaigning to repeal this irresponsible legislation and protect Kosciuszko National Park’s unique alpine and high-country ecosystems and native wildlife. 

 

Snowy 2.0

National Parks Association opposes Snowy 2.0 due to scale of impacts on Kosciuszko National Park

While a nation building project, the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme caused enormous environmental damage across 380 sites, 36 requiring major earthworks and revegetation.

Kosciuszko NP now faces further environmental damage from Snowy Hydro Ltd’s proposed Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro storage scheme.

While NPA strongly supports a rapid shift to renewable energy to decarbonise the electricity sector and supports pumped hydro as a component of this shift, it opposes Snowy 2.0 due to the scale of the environmental impacts it will have on Kosciuszko NP.

The potential scale of Snowy 2.0 is staggering:

  • Over 7 million cubic meters of rock spoil will be excavated from tunnelling—enough to cover a football field to a height of 1.5km. Where is all this spoil going to go, especially as some is expected to be acidic?
  • New high-voltage transmission lines and towers will require an easement 100m wide and 10km long to be cut through as-yet-intact bushland
  • Thirty kilometres of roads will require upgrading and widening, some in sensitive areas
  •  A 200-hectare clearing along a 1 kilometre section of the Yarrangobilly River will be made at Lob’s Hole for a construction site and spoil dump
  • Noxious fish will be transported from Talbingo up to Tantangara Reservoir and thence throughout the Snowy Scheme and its downstream rivers for 1000’s of kilometres to the sea

All of this is to take place in a national-heritage listed National Park.

Proposed offsets—themselves a deeply flawed system that typically acts to rubber-stamp development no matter what the impacts—are scant consolation to the broader public and are miniscule compared to the commercial value of the project to Snowy Hydro Ltd.

The refusal to conduct a full EIS (instead preferring to present five incremental EISs for different phases) seems intended to avoid alarming the public about the total impacts. By the time we’re in later phases, it’ll be difficult to stop the project, which by then will have spent many $millions. All five stages are inter-dependent and should therefore be considered holistically through a single EIS.

Finally, no consideration is being given to alternative pumped hydro solutions, despite this being a requirement of an EIS as detailed in Schedule 2 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000. Alternatives do exist, both within the Snowy Scheme (with much less environmental damage) and outside Kosciuszko National Park. These must be considered before any approval is given to construct Snowy 2.0.

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Further Reading

NPA and the 2016 Wild Horse Management Plan