1 March, 2022

Community concern over Glen Rock proposal

PLANS to develop the Glen Rock reserve into an adventure sport precinct have drawn criticism from the community, with calls for greater transparency into the process.

Plans to establish mountain bike trails at Mt Glen Rock have raised concerns in the Esk community
Plans to establish mountain bike trails at Mt Glen Rock have raised concerns in the Esk community

While a planned community consultation wa potponed due to the recent flood events, community members say there should have been more consultation earlier in the process.

The plans, presented to the Somerset Regional Council by planning group Otium include a Master Plan for the area, incorporating mountain bike trails, rock climbing and abseiling areas, as well as walking trails.

There is also a planned bicycle ‘pump track’ to be built at Esk’s Pipeliner Park, designed to test riders’ ability to maintain speed without needing to pedal.

The Glen Rock precinct was established when the Somerset Regional Council purchased just over 127 hectares on the western face of Mount Glen Rock, alongside an existing 81 hectare reserve.

In a mission statement for the plan, it is intended to ‘Inspire Somerset residents and visitors to experience, admire and benefit from Mount Glen Rock’.

Tourism figures quoted in the plan show 623,000 annual visitors to the Somerset region, with 458,000 of those day trip visitors.

The Otium plan shows approximately 28 kilometres of trails, with a mix of mountain bike only and shared trails, including  nine kilometres of ‘flow and gravity’ trails, and more than 18 kilometres of ‘adventure and shared trails’.

It also includes a dedicated ridgeline walking trail for hikers, while the shared use trails would allow riders and walkers to climb to the start of the descent trails and provide access to the Mount Glen Rock Saddle and the Summit.

The shared use trails would also be access points for rock climbers and abseilers to enter those specific areas.

Esk resident Trevor Page said he was concerned about the proposal, but also about ‘how we got there’.

“It seems to have been done behind closed doors, Somerset Regional Council has a steering group, I suspect they have also done financial costings,” Mr Page said.

After responding to a survey on the council’s ‘Have Your Say’ webpage, Mr Page said he found other residents had expressed concerns after reading the proposal.

“The report is on the council website, but I suspect most people won’t download it.

Describing the plan as ‘mountain bike flavoured’, Mr Page said he was concerned the planners had not undertaken a full review of the location.

“I worked for another council in managing natural areas, I used to look at sites and their opportunities, this would inform us of where recreational opportunities were.”

Mr Page said the plan reflects ‘more of a regional facility’ than something intended for local residents.

“The target audience appears to be more regional, most bikes these days are mountain bikes, similar to what families use on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.”

While the plan does provide for a ‘spectrum’ of tracks and users, Mr Page said it is ‘skewed towards more advanced users’.

“From an Esk viewpoint, it is a different user group, they are more ‘adrenaline junkie’ type riders, ancedotally, I am aware of more accidents, there is a greater probability.”

Mr Page said he was also concerned that walkers would finish up on riding trails, with potential for accidents.

“Even though they are marked for mountain bikes, these trails will attract others such as bird watchers, and pose a risk to them.”

While admitting the walkers could be creating the risk, Mr Page said he was concerned Otium had not done any gorund work, before developing the plan, as the area is home to significant flora and fauna.

“The normal operation is to investigate first, and then design to suit, I know there are scree slopes of ‘uncolnsolidated rocks’, which are generally steep slopes with very loose rocks, if they were doing a values-based survey, it would guide development plans.”

Mr Page said he was not convinced enough research had been done before the plan was created.

“I am not anti-bike, but they do need specific areas, from my perspective this proposal has gone a lot further than I thought it was, the consultation has been very limited so far.”

Mr Page said there were numerous viewpoints on social media, covering both ends of the spectrum and the community needs to have options.

“This is something that affects Esk, so now is the time to get involved, once it is complete, it is too late, people need to be heard now, not after a decision is made, whether they are for or against.”


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