Thursday 14 August 2008

Legal action possible at False Cape

The Environmental Defenders Office says that the Federal Government is considering legal action over the abandonment at the False Cape development site.

The EDO reports that the False Cape site remains an 'abandoned mess of a worksite' since work stopped in early 2008 due to the developer’s financial constraints.

Local Save False Cape campaigners collected hundreds of photo and video evidence over the last two years recording the failure of erosion and sediment control measures on the site, which sits adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. This evidence was passed on to the federal Environment Department, who inspected the site in March and commissioned an expert in erosion and sediment control to assess the adequacy of the measures and what was required to stabilise the site for the upcoming wet season.

To date, the Department have refused to release the report but have recently advised that the Minister is considering taking action under the EPBC Act, after the developer refused to voluntarily fix the failed erosion and sediment control measures. Under the Act, the federal Environment Minister may revoke or suspend the approval or prosecute for breach of approval conditions.

Cairns Regional Council recently allowed a deputation from local campaigners to address concerns that the development approval conditions have not been complied with, and recommended Council take action. The Cairns Council has also announced that they are considering options in relation to the future of the development. Under Queensland planning laws, the Council could similarly revoke or suspend the approval or prosecute the developer for approval condition breaches.

EDO says that the Queensland State Government has shown almost no interest in the "environmental degradation that has been, and continues to be, occurring on site or in neighbouring waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area."

"Despite the local community undertaking monitoring of the site, they remain largely in the dark as to the results of assessments of compliance with approval conditions, and are left to simply trust that proper independent assessments have been undertaken and that all appropriate action will be taken to ensure that no further environmental harm is caused as a result of this controversial development."

EDO has urged the Cairns Regional Council, along with the federal and state governments, to take action to remedy the site and to prosecute the developer for failing to comply with approval conditions regarding erosion and sediment control, of crucial importance in this sensitive area.

I've been a long outspoken advocate against this appalling development. The mess at False Cape is a legacy of the former Council that was too relaxed when it came to managing development on sensitive environmental areas. They abused planning guidelines on hillslopes and were infamous for approving Material Change of Use applications to the CairnsPlan.

The week prior to the March Council election, I filmed this video of long-time local environmental campaigner Terry Spackman. We walked the site, days following another torrential wet season downpour, and the effects on the scarred site was devastating.


Anonymous said...

Well it's about time someone did something. The deafening silence from all tiers of government on this issue has been appalling.

Anonymous said...

Same goes for Foley Road, Palm Cove!

terry said...

In the false cape video, I say that Peter Tabulo reconds the sediment controls are adequate. That is not tru. It was Steve Mercer from Peter Garret's office that said that. I have sent Peter Tabulow an apology.
Terry Sackman

terry said...

When Steve Mercer from DEWHA met with The Save False Cape Group, he said there was no threat to the Great Barrier Marine Park, the sediment contol devices in place were adiquate in the short term, and no photo or video evidence would be concidered.
I think officers from the Byrne council and DEWHA have been embarrast by the media exposeing the extent of the erosion at FC.because they had given the OK to the dodgy sediment and erosion controls, and I hear, the expert's report makes that clear, and is the reason DEWHA won't release it.