Yesterday morning a dormant excavator on the Dillon Road site of the besieged waterpark proposal, burst into life, as an act of frustrated defiance at Council's deferral.
The sudden activity on the property yesterday was cause for concern by neighbouring properties yesterday. Speaking with a local farmer yesterday, I was told that such work cannot occur without proper consent.
"I doubt this man has any permission to interfere with the contour of the land," he said. "It appears that he's trying to dig a channel and redirect the creek system that runs through the property."
Former city councillor Paul Freebody has owned the land for nearly three years, and is seeking permission by Cairns Regional Council to build a waterpark on the land. Simon Clarke, Council's manager of Development Assessment said the project should not go ahead on the site. His 80-page report detailed a raft of reasons why the site is not suitable for commercial development as it is graded agricultural, with development having both upstream and downstream effects.
However, Paul Freebody's defence of the major points in the assessment manager's report was that it's permissible to build in the Barron Delta provided "it has no adverse affects on neighbouring properties."
"Our flood modelling has clearly demonstrated that this project will meet the criterion of a 1 in 100 year flood event and will have no adverse affects on neighbouring properties," Freebody wrote in an open letter.
So who do you believe about the effect the annual wet season flooding will have? The developer, who is desperately seeking approval, or the planner and engineers who have taken their guidance from the CairnsPlan which sets the minimum guidelines for working within the Barron Delta?
In attacking the objections, Freebody claims that this site is the only "financially viable option." "Our feasibility study clearly reflects the north side of Cairns is the only location that is viable due to its close proximity to other tourist attractions," Freebody said on the weekend. Well this is not at all the case. There is substantial land available around the region that would better suit this type of project, and would probably not cause an iota of objection.
Freebody wants his baby approved on this site because he bought it yonks ago and wants to realise a return and a profit. Full stop. He doesn't get a dam, or a 'bund wall' for that matter, what happens to neighbouring properties, nor would he have a clue what the river system in full flood will do to his own investment. I'll be shocked if any financial institution would bankroll this hair-brained scheme and literally throw millions into the middle of a river system.
The same would go for Council if the majority vote for approval, they will then be the caretakers for many subsequent problems that Freebody will demand help for. Council has an obligation for the existing area and local residents to consider in their impact assessment. Councillors would be foolish to ignore Clarke's rationale.
The large stagnant lagoon, a remnant from the failed Vic Hislop's Shark Show that can been seen from the Captain Cook Highway, appears to be the target for the creek diversion. One of the photos shows the creek bed leading to the lagoon being interfered with by the excavator.
Substantial mounds of soil can be seen deposited near the excavator.
Whilst a land-owner is allowed to clean up debris from land, there are strict regulations that prohibit tampering of the land profile without Council approval. This is reinforced by the fact that the site is not a field currently in an agricultural pursuit.
The dilapidated building on the site that housed Vic Hislop's business, is now a serious cyclone risk and should be completely removed.
I would call on Council inspectors to make an urgent visit to the site today, to ascertain the extent of the excavation being carried out on the land.
Council will consider the waterpark application at the next Planning and Environment meeting on Wednesday 14th October.