Statement on Northern Prison Site - Birralee Road, Westbury
The Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC) is a not-for-profit, apolitical, registered environmental organisation that owns and manages land of high conservation significance (tasland.org.au). Established in 2001, the TLC is now one of the largest private landholders in Tasmania with conservation reserves extending over 30,000 ha. TLC reserves are protected by a conservation covenant on title under the Nature Conservation Act 2002. The TLC works both on our own reserve network and with private landholders to achieve conservation. The Revolving Fund program, delivered by the TLC, enables the organisation to identify and acquire land with conservation significance, secure a conservation protection on the title through a covenant, and sell the land to a conservation-minded buyer.
In 1999/2000, land (PID 7031141) on Birralee Road, Westbury was purchased by the State Government through Federal Government funded Private Forest Reserve Program for the purpose of conservation.
In February 2011, in discussions with the State Government (Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment) offered the property to the Tasmanian Land Conservancy to sell (with a covenant on title) through the TLC’s Revolving Fund program with the proceeds to remain in the fund to support future conservation purchases. In May 2015, the TLC completed the proposal for a conservation covenant under the Nature Conservation Act 2002 (Brushy Rivulet - Westbury CONSERVATION COVENANT PROPOSAL) as part of the process. The proposal outlined the various natural values of the property and identified the suitable habitat for a range of rare and threatened species. Since then, the TLC has been awaiting finalisation of the process through the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment (DPIPWE) which administers conservation covenants under the Nature Conservation Act 2002.
On 18 June 2020, the TLC was verbally informed by DPIPWE that the transfer of the property to the TLC would no longer transpire, as the property was selected as the site of the northern prison. The TLC was not informed of this decision until after the Tasmanian Government media release was made public, notifying the community of the government’s decision.
The TLC is yet to receive any formal correspondence from DPIPWE or the Department of Justice in relation to the matter. The TLC has requested copies of relevant documents including the executed deed of transfer which the TLC has not received. Through the RTI release (019) the TLC now has a copy of the executed deed of transfer. We have sought legal advice in relation to the deed, which indicates the Minister has no obligation under the deed to transfer the land to the TLC.
As outlined in the Brushy Rivulet - Westbury CONSERVATION COVENANT PROPOSAL the property has numerous natural values, including suitable habitat for a range of rare and threatened species. The TLC is supportive of the property’s conservation (as originally intended) through the Revolving Fund mechanism.
The TLC believes the property (PID 7031141) on Birralee Road, Westbury should be conserved as originally intended through the Private Forest Reserve Program, contributing to the National Reserve System.
1 October 2020