Governance and Capacity Reviews of the Perisher Range Resorts

Governance Review

The current governance model is that NPWS has overall responsibility for the Perisher Range Resorts (PRR) (indeed for the Kosciuszko National Park) and is the landlord to the other main stakeholders there, being Perisher as the resort operator, the commercial operators (eg hotels) and the SLOPES Clubs (lodges).
On 15 December 2015 OEH informed stakeholders (including SLOPES) of an upcoming review of governance arrangements for the PRR (including a review into the future arrangements for Charlotte Pass beyond the expiry of the current leases there in October 2017). The letter said:

"The purpose of the review is to determine a governance model that will best deliver a sustainable future for the Perisher Range and Charlotte Pass Resorts. Ideally, the new model will allow the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to withdraw from the delivery of municipal services and lease management, and encourage private sector investment and additional year-round activities and visitation.
Providing municipal services is not seen to be part of NPWS' core business in the future and disengaging from these services will allow NPWS to focus its resources on the best outcomes for the community.
It is expected that new governance arrangements will be implemented by the end of October 2017, following the review process."

Club members with long memories will recall that a proposal to grant a head lease over all lodges and hotels in Perisher Valley was seriously considered by the NSW Government back in 1991. Opposition at the time from Clubs assisted in that proposal not proceeding and indeed led directly to the formation of SLOPES: see  About Us – Who is SLOPES?

Any review of governance arrangements that impacts Clubs is a matter of concern to Clubs and to SLOPES. Concerns include lease tenure, the administration of Club leases, the amount and timing of leaseholder charges and MSU levies, and the exercise of landlord discretions under lease covenants.

SLOPES has obtained confirmation from OEH to the effect that, if the direction is to change the PRR governance arrangements, then OEH "will absolutely consult with all interested stakeholders including SLOPES" and that "this consultation will be conducted in an open, fair and appropriate manner".  The core issues are basically the same now as they were back in the early 1990s.

First, identifying:

  • the infrastructure needs of the Perisher Range Resorts for the foreseeable future,
  • who is best credentialed to deliver those needs most effectively and at the best cost, and
  • how that cost is to be funded by the various stakeholders expected to contribute ie NSW Government, resort operators, commercial operators and the SLOPES clubs.

Secondly, identifying:

  • how to optimise the Perisher Range Resorts as a destination attracting all year round use but especially as snow resorts,
  • who is best credentialed to co-ordinate and oversee the delivery of that outcome, and
  • the roles of the various stakeholders (including SLOPES Clubs) in relation to that outcome.

In this context the foreseeable future is typically a period of  30+ years given most Clubs now have lease terms extending out until 30 June 2058.

In many ways, Clubs face a very different world to that in the early 1990s when the head lease issue last surfaced. For example, back then Club leases only had a relatively short term to run (now most Clubs have tenure to 2058); back then there were multiple resort operators (today Perisher operates all the resorts ie Perisher, Smiggins, Blue Cow and Guthega); the impacts of climate change back then were yet to be significantly felt whereas now they are significant concerns for all stakeholders - for example, snow making today is a major exercise for Perisher. Another factor, especially in recent years, is the huge expansion of Jindabyne and the role it now plays not just in providing accommodation but generally as a tourist destination for people interested in accessing the Perisher Range Resorts.

The long term economic viability of Clubs is an important issue. A key component of that is how much Clubs must pay by way of rent charges and MSU levies (and, of course, expenses generally such as power, insurance etc). Equally important is the scope for Clubs to generate revenues from lodge usage. With the snow season getting shorter and less predictable, the quality and extent of the offering in the Perisher Range Resorts becomes even more important. The uncertainty created by these issues (and issues like the difficulty and delay in obtaining development consent for lodge works) impact on the ability and appetite of Clubs to invest in their lodges, to the detriment of all concerned.

SLOPES welcomes a comprehensive and rigorous discussion of these issues provided all relevant stakeholders (including SLOPES and our Clubs) are fully involved and the aim is to deliver outcomes of mutual benefit to those stakeholders and which will underpin the long term economic viability of our Clubs.
In the meantime, it would be prudent for Clubs to budget for higher costs by way of MSU levies in future years. The MSU budget shortfall will need to be addressed somehow (even if only initially via the IPART review we have foreshadowed for some time now). Clubs no doubt will be asked to share some of the burden.

The link to the Governance Review pages on the OEH website is here:
http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/alpineresorts/perisher-charlotte-mgmt-review.htm

Relevant documents relating to the Governance Review can be found here (click to download pdf)

For more information see SLOPES emails at the INFORMATION HUB  under the topic "Governance Review/Management Review”.

 

Capacity Review

By letter dated 23 December 2015 OEH informed stakeholders (including SLOPES) as follows:

I am writing to advise that the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has commenced a review of environmental carrying capacity in the alpine resorts of Kosciuszko National Park.  The review of carrying capacity is required by the current park plan of management (Action 10.2.1.6).

Public consultation on the review will commence in February 2016 and continue until mid-2016.

Carrying capacity in the alpine resorts is currently managed by bed number limits specified in the plan of management.  The plan recognises that there may be other measures that would provide a more accurate means to measure and understand the environmental capacity of the resorts.

NPWS is keen to understand the views of the community and key stakeholders on an appropriate environmental carrying capacity framework for the resorts.  The review will focus on achieving an environmental performance and outcomes based approach that supports improved protection of the natural, cultural and recreational values of the park.  In achieving this, social and economic outcomes will also be considered.

The NSW Government has also recently announced a review of the governance arrangements at the Perisher and Charlotte Pass resorts.  The review of environmental carrying capacity will inform this and any other future governance reviews, and support balanced environmental management and economic development in the alpine resort areas.

The results of an initial consultation process are set out in a report titled "Carrying Capacity in the Alpine Resorts of Kosciuszko National Park – Stage 1 community consultation report" (see below).

The SLOPES position on the Review is as follows:

  • the Perisher Range Resorts within the Kosciuszko National Park (KNP) are unique, iconic and irreplaceable natural resources
  • KNP is administered by the NSW Government through OEH and NPWS. Fee simple in the KNP is vested in the NSW government with certain leasehold rights of occupation held by others, including SLOPES clubs. Leases granted in resort areas are on the public record and, with options, generally run until the 2050s and 2060s. The rights of lease occupation are limited by a range of conditions including compliance with the KNP Plan of Management
  • the current KNP Plan of Management (2006) recognizes KNP's natural, social, economic and cultural values and the need for balance between them, including the critical importance of protecting the environment. NPWS has put in place a range of environmental controls and reporting mechanisms to monitor the environment and the impact users and tourists have on it
  • as part of that, SLOPES is and was a foundation member, and has always been a key contributor to, the Perisher Range Resorts Environmental Management System (PRREMS) Operations Committee convened by NPWS and which meets 6 monthly
  • the PRREMS Committee considers the environmental performance of the alpine resorts and conducts annual surveys of stakeholders, including the 88 SLOPES Clubs, to monitor and improve environmental performance
  • SLOPES supports OEH and NPWS in carrying out the Governance and Capacity Reviews.  SLOPES considers these Reviews are long overdue and need to be conducted robustly, and be successfully concluded, in order optimally to position the Perisher Range Resorts, the Kosciuszko National Park and the various stakeholders, including our SLOPES Clubs, for the future.

The link to the Environmental Carrying Capacity Review page on the OEH website is here:

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/alpineresorts/alpine-carrying-capacity-faq.htm

Relevant documents relating to the Capacity Review can be found here:

For more information see SLOPES emails at the INFORMATION HUB under the topic "Capacity Review".

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