Saturday 22 August 2009

Garrett told to refuse further approval of False Cape

I wrote in July that it was only five months until the next wet season - a disaster waiting to happen yet again at the ruined False Cape, where substantial erosion at East Trinity, can be seen from along the Cairns Esplanade and all the way along the Northern Beaches.
The sediment traps, which are supposed to protect the Great Barrier Reef from sediment run-off from this dormant development, are full again, showing how ineffective they have been.
In just over a week, the twelve month Federal suspension for development at False Cape, will be lifted.
The Save False Cape environmental action group, have written to the Federal Minister of the Environment, Peter Garrett, asking to fully revoke any ongoing approval.
They understand that the report from NRA (commissioned by DEWHA) is scathing of the False Cape's developer Reef Cove, and their failure to comply with the EPBC Act approval conditions.
Save False Cape also highlight mitigating points in an attempt to persuade Garrett to revoke further development approval on the site.
"Since hitting financing difficulties, Reef Cove has been either unwilling or unable to fund any on-site remediation or rehabilitation to address the Minister’s concerns," False Cape campaigner Steven Nowakowski says.
"This is evidenced to a degree by Cairns Regional Council spending a not inconsiderable amount of ratepayers money to attend to some of those matters."

"Despite Cairns Regional Council’s funding of on-site remediation and rehabilitation efforts, the site is not really in much of a better state than it was when the Minister suspended the approval," Nowakowski says.

Reef Cove went into receivership three weeks ago, however there is strong concern in the community for the future plans of the site and the developer's intention.
The initial Federal Government suspension of approval was made on condition that the developer demonstrate an ability to clean up his act. Since the suspension the developer has demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to clean up his act. The only responsible action is for the Minister Garrett to revoke the approval altogether, the Save False Cape groups says.
Cairns Regional Council's Acting General Manager of Planning and Environment Peter Boyd has completed a digital elevation model of the False Cape site.
"The next stage will involve the identification of sites that have slopes in excess of 1:4 that have development potential," Peter Boyd says. "This information will be presented alongside a response to the Save our Slopes community action group (SOS) version 3 report."
Peter Boyd points out that although differing classes of slope have been used in the digital modelling, they are closely aligned.
"Council's DEM identifies the 'new' area triggered by the CairnsPlan amendments that commenced in March 2009 (slopes 1:3 to 1:4)," Peter Boyd says. "These are the dark green areas."
Solicitor Adam Millar, from the Environmental Defenders office is advocating a revocation of Reef Cove’s EPBC Act approval, as the most appropriate action.
"We submit that suspension for a further period will not resolve current problems, [and]revocation is the most appropriate way to deal with the currently suspended EPBC Act approval," Adam Millar says in a letter to Minister Garrett.
"In those circumstances it is proper for you to revoke Reef Cove’s EPBC Act approval before the end of the current suspension period. If you are not convinced that revocation is the most appropriate way, then we submit that at an absolute minimum you should suspend the approval for a further period of no longer than six months, having due regard to the conditions entailed in the initial suspension."
Miller highlights the reports commissioned by the Minister's Department that investigated the developer’s actions and the considerable environmental harm by contractors at the False Cape site. These reports have been kept secret, despite many calls for openness.
The False Cape property has two mortgages over it with Perpetual Nominees and MFS Pacific Finance. Additionally, there are three caveats lodged over the land, in favour of two other parties, namely Prestige Resort Developments and Fortress Credit Corp.
"From a legal point of view, the property title at this stage is messy," Steven Nowakowski says.
"It has been mortgaged twice, and the three parties holding the caveats, are claiming a legal interest in the property. Most importantly the proprietor of Reef Cove Resort has not shown any interest in abiding by the Operational Works Permit. Systematic breaches and cover up’s are a way of business for this company."
"We therefore urge [the Minister] to fully revoke your Federal Approval for this development so another suitable use for the site can be investigated," Nowakowski says.
There is a push for a government buy‐back of the False Cape site.
"The market value of the False Cape site will be reduced, more substantially so if the currently suspended EPBC Act approval is revoked altogether, which we believe is the most appropriate action," Adam Miller says.
"It appears clear to us that the time is ripe for all tiers of government to come together to buy‐back the site, and urge [the Minister] to consult with Commonwealth colleagues, relevant Queensland Ministers concerned and the Mayors of Cairns and Yarrabah to explore," Adam Miller says.
"This innovative alternative option for an ecologically and culturally appropriate future for the False Cape site, would well support the necessary rehabilitation of a highly compromised, fragile environment and the creation of sustainable, green jobs for the local community."
The Environmental Defenders Office lodged an application in the Planning and Environment Court in 2005 on behalf of the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre and Save our Slopes.


Colla said...

Hard to see the picture for the Nowakowski watermark.

Steven Nowakowski said...

Hi Colla,

Michael put the watermark on the image after I requested that it be done. I have had the Reef Cove Developers ripping off my images and using them in their promotional literature. After I instigated legal threats did they remove all of my images from their brochures and advertising material.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sammy jaye, Blog admin said...

Enough Rope you should stop leaving anonymous comments, them they wouldn't be removed.

It's kind of easy to type your name kn the box that says "name".

Enough Rope said...

I would like to thank Mark, Adam and Steve for all their continued hard work on this one.
If the minister manages to rejoin the real world for even a brief moment he will see the only real option will be to completely remove any development approvals for this site.
Thanks Boys.