A contentious go-kart track at Mount Panorama in Bathurst will not go ahead after the federal environment minister intervened to protect a sacred Indigenous site in its path.
Sussan Ley made an emergency protection declaration on March 5, three days before construction was due to begin at the famous motor racing site in regional NSW.
The Wiradyuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation in 2019 lodged a protection application over concerns a sacred women’s site and endangered flora would be destroyed.
Four local councillors also opposed the proposed location for the track, and last year launched an unsuccessful bid to overturn the council’s approval.
After a visit to the site and hearing “passionate community debate”, Ms Ley has moved to protect the site atop Mount Panorama more permanently, agreeing it is culturally significant.
The declaration protects the public use of the area as well as protecting its heritage value, she said.
Major earthworks, clearing of vegetation and the construction of buildings within the area have been banned, with protections to last ten years.
Ms Ley also dispelled claims the applicants sought to prevent existing motor racing and recreational activities on the whole mountain.
“The declaration covers a reduced area than that previously sought. It does not, and nor did the applicant seek to, prevent existing motor racing, existing sporting and recreational activities or other public activities on the mountain,” she said.
“I strongly hope that the Bathurst Regional Council can continue to explore options for a Go Kart Track which seems to have significant support if it were to be placed at another location than the top of the mountain.”