Wednesday 18 June 2008

Heli down on False Cape

At 10:34am this morning, a private charter helicopter, that was undertaking surveillance photography on the False Cape development site, crashed.

Four people were on board, however there have been no reports of fatalities. One source told CairnsBlog that the chopper was flying very low to the tree canopy.

The Cairns Post captured the scene, soon after the accident.

Renown Queensland landscape photographer, Steve Nowakowski, was one of the passengers on board. He telephoned this morning, soon after the accident, and said he was un-hurt. However was unsure about the state of the pilot and the videographer on board.

Nowakowski has been a vocal opponent of the False Cape development. He was undertaking an up-to-date visual record of the site.

Also on board was Cairns architect Mark Buttrose, who contested Division 6 at the recent Cairns Regional Council elections with Cairns 1st.

The now abandoned site, stretches almost two kilometers along the coast, to the east of Cairns. It has been the focus of much controversy since receiving Council and State development approvals. The site is now widely damaged and scarred, from poorly managed excavation, breach of approvals and lack of any proper sediment traps over the last two years.

The Save False Cape group have been very critical of the lack of action following the fallout when work ceased late last year. They have been particularly critical that the developer's $650,000 security bond has not been used to prevent further sediment run off from the site into the Great Barrier Reef.

The land has a history of accidents, including the fatality of a contract worker on the site when a large bolder fell.

The development has been on hold for some months now, after financial backing was withdrawn late last year. Construction firm CEC pulled out after being owed a substantial amount of unpaid monies for work carried out.

Prior to the recent Council election, CairnsBlog released videos and photos, showing the sediment run-off and erosion. The former Cairns City Council endorsed the developers, including allowing wet season excavation that has been responsible for much of the damage.

From any viewpoint along the Cairns Esplanade, including all northern beach suburbs, you can clearly see the False Cape coastline that has been raped of vegetation and left exposed to the elements.

Today's helicopter crash will cast a further shadow over a development that should have never been approved on such a steep and erosion-prone site.


Melody said...

What a great little blog you have here, whic i have only *just* discovered. Living in Cairns myself I will definitely be back.

Thanks for posting this story about False Cape - and I am so glad no one was hurt this morning.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who hops in a helicopter takes their chances, and I'm glad no-one was killed or drastically injured this morning. One man has back and abdominal pain, the pilot has two broken ankles, so it's not all good news.

The flight was to make a record of the site's condition at False Cape, and was part of the preparation for a submission/presentation to the cairns regional Council on June 26.

One reason the flight was necessary is because the Commonwealth Department of Environment has chosen to keep the information it collected about False cape in march this year confidential from the CRC and the public.

Cairns regional Council had decided in march that since the Commonwealth was collecting information CRC didn't have to.

The upshot is that no remedial work has been done on site since March, and neither the public nor CRC has the detail needed to take effective action anytime soon.

Hence private citizens risk life and limb to do the work that CRC and our illustrious Commonwealth government ought be doing.

Hands up anyone who thinks this state of affairs is good enough?

Anonymous said...

Cooool!! Chopter crash, any explosions!?

Anonymous said...

If you occupy a window seat on the right-hand side of any airliner departing into the south, you will see what a disaster False Cape is today. It looks like a huge abandoned mine site, and it's the last view of the Cairns environs many tourists have.
Let it be known as Byrne's Legacy to the environment!

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness there weren't any serious injuries.
The Contractor who was tragically killed last year was Maori. Has anyone lifted the Tapu?