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Divisive Hobart cable car plan scaled back

Hobart cable car
A record 16,500 public submissions were made to Hobart City Council over the proposed cable car. Photo: AAP
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Contentious plans to build a cable car to the 1271-metre summit of Hobart’s rugged mountain have been substantially scaled back amid community opposition.

Hobart City Council in July voted down the proposal of the Mount Wellington Cableway Company (MWCC), prompting the company to launch an appeal with Tasmania’s planning tribunal.

The company on Monday submitted an amended plan to the tribunal.

It has dropped plans for a fine dining restaurant at the summit and reduced the overall footprint of the building, which still includes lookouts, a cafe and an events space, by 40 per cent.

Proposed operating hours of the cable car have been reduced to daylight only and the maximum number of passengers per car halved from 80 to 40.

“The council raised concerns about the size of the complex and its hours of operation, noise at night and carrying capacity which these amendments address,” MWCC chair Chris Oldfield said.

Opponents of the plan say the new development application seeks to overcome some but not all of the 30 grounds of refusal set to be assessed by the planning tribunal.

An independent planning report advised council to reject the plan on 21 grounds, including that it would diminish the mountain’s tourism, recreational and cultural values.

“These changes do nothing to avoid the bulldozing of swift parrot and masked owl nesting trees, the traffic on residential streets, noise, sewage and odour,” Residents Opposed to the Cable Car spokesman Vica Bayley said.

“Bus-sized carriages are still proposed to cut across the Organ Pipes every 15 minutes, there is still a 35 metre tall tower atop the mountain.

“It’s impossible to see how abandoning a significant commercial element of the development will turn around the already discredited claims of economic benefit.”

The planning report also determined the cable car would generate noise that would have an adverse effect on the quiet enjoyment of the mountain.

Members of Tasmania’s Aboriginal community have previously said the project would scar the culturally significant landmark, which carries the Indigenous name kunanyi.

About 72 per cent of a record 16,500 public submissions made to council were not in favour of the cable car.

The proposal will head to mediation at the planning tribunal and could then go to a hearing. It still needs to obtain federal environmental approval and relevant building permits.

The MWCC has slated a 2023-24 build with operations to begin in 2024.

Thousands attended an anti-cable car protest in 2018 headed by former Greens leader Bob Brown.

– AAP