Thursday 4 September 2008

Next battle: Foley's war

The False Cape stopwork order would have never occurred under the tenure of the previous Cairns City Council. Not in a million Villa Romano luncheons.

It was, in the end, a Federal intervention that finally put a stop work order on the dodgy sediment-happy John Ewens. However, former Mayor Byrne led a Council of complicit neglect when it came to land developers managing environmental protection. It was obvious that they were not watching after they handed out the DA.

The False Cape decision today needs to be reflected on why it even had to be made.

It was Bynre's Environment and Planning Committee, that allowed the False Cape developers, Reef Cove Resort, to continue to excavate the vast site on East Trinity, right along the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The sought an exemption to work through the Wet, and it was granted. Two wet seasons later, huge landslides and untold sediment run off later, just weeks before the next wet season, we get action.

I guess it's better late then never at all. It could have taken a bunch of Year 8's to work out that the site was in substantive disrepair a year ago. It will take millions to put this chunk of land, now scarred, back to a stable position. It's highly likely that it won't be ready for this Wet, so there is substantial remediation work to do.

However, Minister Garrett's Departmental report, following inspectors who were up here March, was shrouded in secrecy. They didn't want to release it. To this day, they still have not. This is because it indites the Government and their lack of action over this site. It has simply showed Labor up.

Around the time of the inspection at False Cape, a damming report was released stating that the last ten years of environmental management under a Labor-lead State Government, was pitiful. Like the former developer-eager Cairns City Council, they didn't know what to do. They had so little experience at managing sustainable developments.

Today, the new Cairns Regional Council says it wants to educate local builders about sediment, erosion control and waste management, all three areas that were in shameful neglect on the False Cape site.

Call me cynical, but the timing of such an announcement, will hope to gain some ground and distraction following the appalling legacy of Council's mismanagement of False Cape.

This month, as we head towards the wet season, Council hopes to "achieve compliance" with the Environmental Protection Act. It's a proactive step. Again, I doubt we would have seen this if we had no False Cape. However there are unfortunately, many False Capes out there.
One that I've exposed recently is another stunning development, on the Northern Beaches. This is by a notorious developer called Phil Hartwig. He lives at the very top of his Foley Road development site, which he has excavated to an extreme. I reckon he needs a bloody good talking to by the sediment control police at Council. Garrett should close this one down too.

CairnsBlog, along with environmental campaigner Terry Spackman, visited the site a few days ago, and we were shocked at what has been taking place.

Here's part one of our video...

Foley Road, Palm Cove is yet another example of how sediment run off is so poorly managed under the current Council. We may have a new bunch of Councillors, but the same folk are running the planning department in Council's bunker. We'll bring you the rest of our video we shot over the next few days. It proves for some stunning abuse of the land.

Peter Tabulo, Council's Planning and Environment GM, said a recent audit exposed a majority of building sites failed to meet the minimum industry standard of ensuring adequate control measures were implemented or maintained.

When these are not undertaken, like False Cape and Foley Road, creeks get choked with sediment and building debris and are carried out to our coastline. It effects a great deal of marine life.

“The implementation and maintenance of these basic environmental protection measures ultimately promotes healthier waterways,” Tabulo says. “Healthy waterways lead to healthier estuaries and a healthier Marine Park which we all like to be able to enjoy whether it’s better fishing, diving or just cleaner beaches.”

Council will be asking builders to ensure a control of building wastes and install and maintain sediment control measures. However, it's obvious that this is hardly ever done. Tabulo says that putting in such measures are inexpensive, however they must be maintained throughout the entire year. You will see in the rest of our Foley Road video, and it's a disaster waiting to happen.
"Sediment control is one of the most important things a developer must undertake," Terry Spackman says. "All too often, it's too little, too late. They sandbag the odd drain and think there job is done.

It's not difficult to believe that Foley Road is probably singularly the most destructive hillside projects in the history of Cairns.

Hartwig was in the earth moving business, and the story goes that he was given the Foley Road property for the work he did at Buchan's Point, which is yet another another travesty of Council and the Labor State Government. Despite the land being unreachable, he used his bulldozer some twenty years ago to build his own 'Quaid Road' into the property, without approvals or Council knowledge.

It appears that the land at Foyle Road has been stripped and illegally graded. The first development approval were given by the Mulgrave Shire under mysterious circumstances, this was while Kevin Byrne was in charge. We'll bring you more on this saga over coming days.

We hope Mr Hartwig attends, or is dragged along to one of Council's sessions in September or October. A look at his steep site, would say he needs to have a 101 lesson in sediment run off controls.

Do us all a favour Phil, call 4044 3044 and book yourself in. The jug will be on. Oh, and Terry and I will be back soon. Lock up your dogs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

l agree its a total mess up there but dirt on the road happens at most building sites and the EPA do sweet FA about
Anyone who has dealt with the EPA know they dont like to do much or get out of there comfort zone
Also you guys are entering a construction site without being inducted in??? lm sure thats illegal