Saturday 16 February 2008

Environmental protection and Kevin Byrne's City Council

Andrew at Future of Cairns shares his views about our environmental planning under the management of Mayor Kevin Byrne.

After 10 years of writing Environmental Impact Assessments and working on projects that strive to be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable, I believe that the most unsustainable organisation north of Brisbane is Cairns City Council. When you write environmental reports for a living, you can easily assess an organisation's claims of protecting the environment. These are some of the things that concern me about Cairns City Council:
  • Cairns City Council has provided development approvals for large developments based on consultants reports which I can easily demonstrate are not true. Surely you would think that developments can't be approved on the basis of reports that the Council has been informed are not true, but they are. There is also no avenue for the community to review these reports and point out when they don't describe the reality of the proposal at all.

  • Many of the developments approvals in environmentally sensitive areas have little or no concessions to the environment. They are just ordinary maximum yield designs or worse. In fact, in a number of cases I have looked into, the council provides dispensations that greatly increase the environmental destruction that developers are allowed to do. Similar developments that I have worked on in Townsville and other areas have been carefully assessed for environmental impacts and stringent conditions have been set by the council.

  • Even more staggering is that the Council ignores State Government Policy whenever it can. In many cases the State has devolved development assessment powers to local government with the instruction that they follow State policies. What really happens is that the policies are mostly ignored. I have seen Cairns City Council approve developments that cut off access to a public beach, that ignore the Coastal Management Plan and so on.

At the end of the day my conclusion is that a large number of generally understood principles of good government are being abrogated by Cairns City Council.

Professionally speaking, it is a complete waste of time being an environmental consultant in Cairns as almost all unnecessary environmental impacts are allowed to proceed.

When it comes to looking after the environment, the Cairns City Council is forty years behind the other organisations and corporations I work for. It is almost as if we have no environmental laws at all. Getting rid of Kevin Byrne and his team is essential to restoring balance in the assessment system.

For the record, as a consultant I prepared visual simulations of projects like Windy Hill Wind farm at Ravenshoe, the odd tourist resort and for lots of high voltage transmission lines.

The alternative visual assessment of the development at False Cape is my work. And here is a simple test that lets you evaluate the quality of my work.


Anonymous said...

Thanks to "cairnsblog" we have already seen what can happen when there is a LITTLE bit of rain, now everyone start thinking what is going to happen when we have a downpour similar to Mackay!!! As a local, born and bred, you ain't seen nothing yet!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous. Although I am not a Cairns born and bred, I am a Mackay born and bred. what hit Mackay over the last couple of days is what we long term northerners call "the old type wet season". Mackay City Council has done exactly what the Cairns City Council has done and filled in all the old natural waterways and put residential developements in their place. People of Cairns who have not lived here for 20 years or more, be prepared. What has happened in Mackay over the last couple of days is going to happen to Cairns. Maybe not this year, or next, but it will happen.
My Mother is in Mackay, cleaning up her house at the moment. While talking to her on the phone yesterday, she did not sound devestated. She was very realistic about it. She hasnt blamed freakish bad weather on the flooding. She is blaming poor planning and management on behalf of the council for what has happened.
Be prepared Cairns. Our turn is coming. Check your insurance policies. Because of the develope at any cost period we have been through with the current council, you will need it.

Anonymous said...

How much fossil fuel is used lighting up Kevin’s huge sign every night?

Anonymous said...

Andrew at Future of Cairns couldn't be closer to the truth in what he has said.

I notice Byrne quoted on page 7 of today's Cairns Post as stating that CCC is lobbying the federal government for funds to determine how to prevent or mitigate flooding. It would appear that the intent is along the lines of the current city port project whereby a system of flood gates and pumps would be installed to "turn back the tide" as occurs in the lower Lake Street area. Sound familiar? New Orleans on a lesser scale?

The mayor seeks Federal funds to rectify problems created by his council in allowing high risk development in flood or erosion prone areas. Another big consultancy payment to the Unity supporters like C&B Group and Flanagans no doubt.

Fortunately the majority of the community are intelligent and aware and can see through this.

27 days to go Byrne

Anonymous said...

My sister is in Mackay, also cleaning up. This morning she tells me snakes and spiders are entering the house in droves.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Byrne has been a climate change denier/sceptic and now, when told that CCC could be held responsible for allowing all that development in flood prone areas, he wants help from the Feds to address the impact of rising sea levels!

Is Kevin now a climate change convert?

Anonymous said...

I've just seen photos of the Mackay flooding. All I can say is we are stuffed if Cairns gets the same sort of downpour.