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Centre Report

By Anna McGuire, Coordinator. 

This edition we’re celebrating the beauty and diversity of life in the far north. From seagrasses to the weeping paperbark, pied-imperial pigeons to the opal cling-gobi, our region is full of so many intriguing species. We invite you to read on and join us in finding out a bit more about these species and the places they call home.

But first, a quick update on our work over the past few months.

Flying foxes

We met with the Mayor in July to present 5,000 petition signatures asking the Mayor and Councillors not to disperse the CBD flying-fox colony. We invited the Mayor to consider an alternative proposal, featuring covered walkways and educational signage, which would provide more reliable outcomes for the community. We are still awaiting a response from Mayor Manning on this.

Cairns Regional Council and the Novotel Oasis Resort now have approval from the State and Federal Governments to proceed with the dispersal. As the flying-fox breeding season has now begun, any dispersal will have to wait until around April 2014.

Fight for the Reef

We were lucky enough to have a visit from life-long conservationist Bob Irwinin June. His presentation was inspiring and brought together the many local people who are passionate about protecting the reef from the impacts of industrialisation, coal ports and shipping. Our work on the Fight for the Reef campaign continues.

Marine parks

We continue our work to protect the beautiful Coral Sea, and to highlight the benefits of marine reserves more generally. We believe that with our oceans under increasing pressure, governments need to set aside these large areas that can be kept as safe havens for marine life, so our children and their children can appreciate unspoilt places in the future.

Proposed Aquis resort and casino

Many readers will already have heard about the proposed Aquis Great Barrier Reef resort and casino at Yorkey’s Knob. This project is at the initial proposal stage and does not yet have any of the approvals it would need to go ahead.

The site is mostly existing cane farms (about 353 hectares total) with some areas of mangrove and other vegetation.The project has been declared a ‘Coordinated Project’ by the Queensland Coordinator General which means that it will have a streamlined assessment process by the State Government.

This $4.2 billion project would include: 3,750 hotel rooms across 9 luxury hotel brands; 1,180 managed apartments; 135 managed villas; A casino with 1,500 gaming machines and 750 gaming tables; One of the world’s largest aquariums; 13,500m2 of high-end retail shopping; An 18 hole golf course; and a large-scale water theme fun park, plus other facilities.

We will await the Environmental Impact Statement before commenting in detail on this project, but some of our initial concerns are included below. A full list of concerns is available on our website.

Water quality

  • The project is located on the Barron River floodplain adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, and is likely to have water quality impacts on the reef.
  • The golf course is likely to result in contaminated runoff – fungicides & herbicides used on golf courses have the potential to damage freshwater and marine communities.
  • The project will alter water flow in Yorkey’s, Richters and Thomatis Creeks and there is potential for contamination of these water courses.

Coastal processes

  • Given projected sea level rise and increased intensity of cyclones, is a low-lying coastal area in a floodplain really an appropriate location for such a development?
  • Placing infrastructure of this scale in such a vulnerable area will increase the chances of future requests for engineering solutions to mitigate flooding and storm surge damage, and these engineering solutions have high environmental costs.
  • The Barron River mouth is dynamic and could shift in a major flood event. Thomatis Creek was once the dominant waterway for the delta.

Social concerns

  • The project would have significant impacts on visual amenity, with building heights of around 80 metres.
  • Further gaming machines would encourage gambling,a known cause of social problems in the community.
  • Rates for properties in Yorkey’s Knob would most likely increase as property values increase, meaning that for some people it may no longer be viable to live in the area.

Stay in touch

Visit www.cafnec.org.au to find out more about our work, or please feel free to drop in to the office. If you would like to support our work you could consider becoming a member, renewing your membership, or joining our EcoStar monthly giving program – an important source of independent funds for our work.

We would also like to thank the many volunteers who help to make our work successful. To all those who help with our accounting, give up weekends to work at stalls, volunteer on our management committee, or spend many hours organising our annual Wilderness Bike Tour – a heartfelt thanks for all that you do. We really couldn’t do this without your help.

Permanent link to this article: https://cafnec.org.au/2013/10/14/centre-report/