Confusion over Northern Prison site sign at Westbury
By Harry Murtough
23 June 2020
A sign on the new Northern Regional Prison site has become a source of newfound conflict by those opposed to the development.
The sign states "This area is private property, protected under the Tasmanian Nature Conservation Act 2002. Please contact the owner before entering the land."
The sign is accompanied by state government and Department of Primary Industries, Parks Water and Environment signage.
Corrections Minister Elise Archer said the sign had not been placed on the land by the government.
"The sign is also inaccurate. The land is not private property as it suggests," she said.
Ms Archer said the site had once upon a time been privately owned, however, it is now unallocated Crown Land.
A DPIPWE spokesperson also said the sign was inaccurate.
"It is the government's understanding that the sign was erected a number of years ago in an attempt to deter ongoing illegal activity at the site, including the shooting of wildlife, the theft of firewood and the dumping of rubbish," the spokesperson said.
"The Nature Conservation Act applies to public and private land in Tasmania, regardless of tenure."
Westbury Region Against the Prison president Linda Poulton said at a group meeting on Monday there was confusion about the sign's existence and what implications it might have on developments.
"We understand that their [government] comments are that they're not government signs - that's odd to us," Ms Poulton said.
"We've looked at those signs closely and they appear to be government property."
"We plan to look into what the issues are with this site because it might raise a whole lot of concerns from people who are more interested in nature conservation and protecting habitat."
Ms Archer said the Northern Regional Prison project would be fully cognisant of the local environment and how it can be best protected and managed.
"The prison is likely to only require a footprint of no more than 15 hectares while the total area of the Crown land available at Brushy Rivulet site is 70 hectares, providing opportunities to manage any environmental features of the site," she said.
Ms Archer also said an "assessment of the Crown Land is currently underway to determine the exact characteristics of the site and how they will be accommodated in the use of the site for the construction of the prison."
"A preliminary investigation has been conducted by DPIPWE and it is understood there are no covenants on the block nor are there any records of threatened wildlife on the block," Ms Archer said.