Friday 9 November 2007

Myola issue bigger than Mareeba Shire

Friends of Earth Kuranda (FoE K) has called on the Mareeba Shire Council to make public a full analysis of submissions received by Council about the Myola Plan - before meeting to consider the plan.

The Myola Plan proposes construction of a new suburb of 10,000+ in the Myola Valley - an area of exceptional biodiversity adjacent to World Heritage rainforests. It's the largest development proposal ever in the Kuranda area. FoE K believes Council should share information with the public about the breakdown of views on the Myola Plan as soon as the information is available.

Mayor Mick Borzi said on radio on this week that Council had received more than 100 submissions about the Myola Plan - and made a rather disparaging comment that most submissions were from "outside Myola".

FoE K believes the future of Myola has much broader consequences than its impact on the current residents of this lightly-populated rural area.

Myola is next to the narrowest neck of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. It contains significant areas of remnant forest and is a hotspot for endangered species. Sympathetic management of this area is essential to the future of the Wet Tropics as a whole.

Protecting Myola therefore goes way beyond a local issue. Mareeba Shire Council should accept that many people have a legitimate interest in protecting this special environment - and welcome submissions from any source.

We're concerned Council doesn't try to downplay opposition to the Myola Plan. Despite invitations, Mayor Borzi did not attend large public meetings in Kuranda to discuss the Myola Plan. Is he reluctant to hear local community views - or does he feel the Plan is indefensible?

FoE Kuranda's submission to Council has called on Council to reject the Myola Plan outright. If not, the State Government must intervene to nix the plan.

Any attempt to urbanize Myola - an area crucial to the integrity of the entire Wet Tropics - will meet strong resistance from locals. If necessary, we'll mount a national campaign to stop it. Christine Milne, Federal Senator and Greens national spokesperson on World Heritage matters, visited FNQ a week ago. She expressed support for the campaign to stop the urbanization of Myola.

The Myola valley runs along the Barron River, to the north east of Kuranda. It's home to at least two species - the Myola Palm and the Kuranda Tree Frog (Litoria myola) - whose natural range is restricted to the vicinity. The former is on the IUCN red list of threatened species. Myola's unique frog species was identified so recently that it has yet to find its place on this
list, although a nomination has been submitted proposing it is listed as critically endangered.

Ironically, Mareeba Shire Council will itself become extinct early next year, when it is amalgamated into the new Tablelands Region Shire. It would be sad if it tries to push through this shameful plan in its last few months of existence.

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