Home to rare and threatened species, culturally significant and a magnet for the local outdoor community, Radiata Plateau, towering high above the rolling valley of the Megalong, has been in the making for millennia.
With its outstanding topography, Radiata Plateau, sitting on the southern escarpment is the last remaining undeveloped peninsula-plateau in the upper Blue Mountains.
The fragmentation of Radiata Plateau, by any development, would result in the loss of its high conservation value – reducing public accessibility for recreational and educational purposes, compromising the rare plants and historical value of the area and likely increase the probability of pollution in catchments.
Survival of the Plateau depends on the area remaining undisturbed.
The only way of truly protecting the area for future generations is for it to become part of the Blue Mountains National Park and be purchased by either the Federal or State government.
It is for this reason that we, the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, are calling on you, the community and all those with a commitment to, and passion for the Blue Mountains and its fragile environments, to help us persuade the Government of the value of this area and secure its future to protect the vulnerable and threatened species that call it home.
Discussions about the future of the Plateau have been simmering since early 1990 when it was aired that any development would degrade, rather than conserve the natural ecological elements of the Plateau.
The proposed academy would be for conferences and training programmes in Transcendental Meditation - discussions for which, it appears, began in 1977. The application included plans for one main building, a tea house, clinic and multiple smaller buildings with a view to the Academy ultimately having 415 rooms.
The plans received conditional approval from Council.
Strongly opposed by the Upper Blue Mountains Conservation Society (now BMCS), the Save the Radiata Plateau, the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, considerable opposition was also mounted with 2,500 objectors signing a petition and 278 submissions against the proposal.
The Upper Blue Mountains Conservation Society developed a comprehensive proposal for the acquisition of the land, as part of a Proposal for World Heritage Nomination; citing the proposed acquisition as 'the completion of the conservation of the Upper Blue Mountains system of reserves'.
Later in 1990, plans were made to sell Radiata Plateau as three separate parcels of land for development within the constraints of the Residential Bushland Conservation zoning.
At a public meeting, during August 1991, for the Blue Mountains for World Heritage Listing, the motion 'to include Radiata Plateau in the nominated area for World Heritage' was unanimously carried.
2004 to 2013
With the development application having lapsed the Plateau was again put up for sale in 2004.
During late 2004 and early 2005, the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, joined the Blue Mountains Conservation Society and the Save the Radiata Plateau Group driving public awareness of the situation and urging environmental protection to be placed on it.
Sadly, the then Minister for the Environment, Mr Bob Debus, did not deem it environmentally valuable enough to consider acquisition.
No sale of the land was made.
2014 to 2016
In 2014, the Transcendental Meditation Group (TMO) sought to change the zoning of the Plateau to enhance its development potential; indicating a vision for a spa retreat, eco-tourism lodge and conference facility.
In 2016, development applications were lodged by the owners (now under the title Maharishi's Global Administration Through Natural Law Ltd.) for three "private" dwellings on the Plateau. Two of the dwellings being identical and located very close to each other. In response to these applications, submissions were lodged (against the single dwelling and the two identical dwellings) by the Society as well as local residents.
The Council was unable to come to an agreement with the owners on the applications and Court ordered conciliation between the two did not result in variations to the developments both parties were happy with.
2017 to 2018
The Society, along with other objectors to the developments, are relieved that two of the applications have been declined but are concerned about the remaining one - particularly given that Maharishi's Global Administration has previously expressed intentions to commercially develop the Plateau.
As a consequence, the Society is firmly committed to raising awareness of the need for protection to be sought and for the Plateau to finally come under public ownership.
Early in 2017, the Society launched 'Leave Radiata Plateau Wild' - a campaign to raise broader awareness of the issue facing the Plateau and to encourage purchase by either the State or Federal Government so it can be incorporated into the Blue Mountains National Park for protection.
Support for the campaign has been terrific and on 30 July a public rally was held at Cahill's Lookout that saw a fantastic turnout with the local and outdoor community gathering to show their commitment to protecting the Plateau.
We were delighted that Mayor, Mark Greenhill joined us and made a commitment, which has since been unanimously agreed upon by Council, to support full protection of the Plateau. As part of this commitment Council will be asking the State and / or Commonwealth Government to acquire the land for inclusion in the Blue Mountains National Park.
Suzie van Opdorp, spokesperson for Trish Doyle MP, also attended the rally and gave her support, recognising the need to protect the Plateau and that she was urgently seeking a meeting between the NSW Minister for the Environment, the Society and community members.
Apart from a small area of Crown Land the majority of the Plateau is privately owned by a group that have consistently lodged applications and expressed considerable interest in development over the past three decades.
Survival of the Plateau's unique and special values depend on the area remaining undisturbed.
The Society has long argued that the ideal solution would be for it move into public ownership and form part of the Blue Mountains National Park.
Two recent applications for development have just been refused on environmental grounds - now is the time to secure the Plateau's future.
January to June 2019
Local member Trish Doyle and Penny Sharpe made the announcement on the 22 February 2019 at a Cahills Lookout which overlooks the Plateau.
This commitment from Labor would permanently secure the Plateau’s long-term future. This was a critical milestone in the campaign to have save Radiata Plateau, as it is the first time a major party has committed to purchase the Plateau and add it to the national park system.
The Society, along with the many local residents and community members who have fought to save the Plateau, thank our local member, Trish Doyle who has supported the Leave Radiata Plateau Wild campaign over many years.
Residents and Blue Mountain Conservation Society representatives met with the then Liberal Minister for the Environment, Ms Gabrielle Upton to put the case to have Radiata Plateau purchased by the NSW Government to become part of the Blue Mountains National Park. The Minister met with the community representatives on-site at the Plateau on 13 February 2019.
The meeting on-site allowed the Society and residents to brief the Minister about the significant environmental and Aboriginal heritage values of the Plateau, and for her to see this scenic part of the southern escarpment. The Minister also learnt directly from community members about the community campaign to have the area conserved.
While no commitment to purchase was made by Minister Upton, she did commit to raising the issue with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and seek advice.
Since the NSW state election, won by the Coalition government, the Society has met with senior national parks staff and presented a lengthy and comprehensive document outlining the significant natural and cultural heritage values of the Plateau. This includes nationally listed endangered species and ecological communities, including Blue Mountain Swamps, as well as the state listed heritage site “Blacks Ladder”.
We understand that NPWS has undertaken a conservation assessment of the Plateau and is providing advice to the new NSW Minister for the Environment Matt Kean. The NPWS have also have had discussions with the Plateau’s owners.
In July 2019 the Plateau’s owners Trancendental Meditation Group put the plateau up for sale on the open market.
The Society along with the local community continue the campaign – find out what you can do.
The Society has also written to the Minister Kean requesting a meeting on-site to discuss purchase by the NSW Government.
Trish Doyle continues to support the Leave Radiata Plateau Wild campaign and has also recently written to Matt Kean, on behalf of local residents, seeking purchase of the Plateau.