A Halls Gap-based climbing instructor is likely not to be allowed access to a popular climb in the Grampians National Park, having turned down an extension to his licence.
On Tuesday afternoon, Parks Victoria announced operators would have access to Summer Day Valley, in the park's north, until June 30 2021 or until a new management plan for the Grampians landscape is finalised, whichever is first.
The licence extensions will be granted on the condition operators comply with new measures, including apply for a Cultural Heritage Permit.
Daniel Earl, who has organises climbs for operator Hangin' Out for 20 years, said he had not applied for a permit for a number of reasons.
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"The permit states that we 'will or will likely harm cultural heritage'. I do not wish to harm any cultural heritage," he said.
"We LTO's have conditions that are in place to prevent any physical harm. Parks' application to Aboriginal Victoria was inaccurate, misrepresentative of our work and unacceptable for me to sign considering it stated that I agreed the information was true and correct.
"I know that most operators wouldn't be able to acknowledge what harm they may be creating."
Mr Earl has been taking tour groups throughout the pandemic.
"I had asked Parks Victoria on the 11th of May when they would tell the LTO's that the Cultural Heritage Permit for Lookout Point Wall was not required," he said. "They acknowledged immediately to only me, the permit was not necessary for the wall and did not inform any other LTO's of this important information until the day they received the formal application on May 19th. They were then successful in getting the LTO's to participate."
In February 2019, Parks Victoria cracked down on climbing in the valley and seven other areas of the national park designated Special Protection Areas, claiming the activity was damaging areas of cultural significance to Traditional Owners.
A Parks Victoria spokesman said as of Wednesday, 11 tour operators had received Cultural Heritage Permits to continue operating at Summer Day Valley Special Protection Area.
He said operators could still apply for permits and could withdraw them at any time, and that they still had access to climbs not within the SPAs.
"Parks Victoria has provided a cultural heritage induction for Licensed Tour Operators at Summer Day Valley," he said.
"Licence conditions, including designated parts of walls approved for climbing, are also in place to minimise tour operator impacts or potential harm."
"Parks Victoria supports sustainable nature-based tourism that contribute to productive, healthy and prosperous local communities.
"Parks Victoria has waived all licence fees for tour operators for the entirety of 2020, in accordance with the government's commitment to supporting businesses through these difficult times. Parks Victoria has arranged processing of any paid costs for Cultural Heritage Permits."