Saturday 30 January 2010

Waterpark appeal chaos for Cairns Council's backflip decision

The Mulgrave Sugar Mill representing cane farmers on the Barron River Delta, has filed an appeal against Cairns Regional Council and Felhope Pty Ltd, Paul and Kim Freebody's company behind the controversial waterpark, planned for the Dillon Road site.

"[They] filed an appeal against Council and Felhope Pty Ltd on Monday, against our decision to approve the waterpark," Peter Tabulo, Cairns Regional Council's planning and environment manager told all Councillors on Wednesday.

Tabulo also advised Council's communications chick, Sonja Anderson, who alerted the media, but didn't inform CairnsBlog, because I was a vocal critic of the waterpark's proposed location on the Barron River Delta.

In September, Council's development assessment manager Simon Clarke, in a 70-page report, recommended that Council refuse development approval for the adventure waterpark, planned for the low-lying Barron River Delta. The refusal met with angry rants from Paul Freebody who good Christian image was put aside as he called all the female Councillors who voted for a temporary deferral for three weeks, "witches and bitches."

Along with former Mulgrave Councillor, Ross Parisi, I called for a moratorium on development in the Barron River and Thomatis Delta.

However, Northern Beaches Councillor and Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane rallied in behind Freebody's Underwaterworld, as did former Councillor Kathy Plath, who was said to be a partner in the business venture.

An 11th-hour deal was done and the same planning officer had to draft a report in favour of the waterpark development, with 60+ amendments. The hurried 17-page revised recommendation that was prepared and distributed the night before the Wednesday 23rd September Council meeting, agreed to grant the development approval, subject to a substantial string of new pre-conditions.

It was a dog's breakfast and a mad situation - the same Council planner and his department who fiercely argued against the plan to change a long-standing precedent to not commercially develop on the Barron River Delta, were asking to recommend the construction of a large tourism venture.

It's likely that the Mulgrave Mill, as one of the original objectors, along with adjoining property owners that farm sugar on the delta, will present a compelling case to throw this project down a big water slide.

Development Assessment Manager Simon Clarke said in he rejection recommendation:

  • In accordance with the Flood Management Code the majority of the water park itself (excluding car parking, landscaped areas and area for road resumption) can be designed through raising and/or bunding to achieve immunity to the Q100 event.

    However, due to the site’s proximity to the Barron River and location on the flood plain such raising or bunding results in significant upstream effects.

    While the most significant effects of the upstream increases would predominantly affect similarly zoned Rural 1 sugar cane land, the implications in approving this development are nevertheless significant. The Barron River Delta is known for flooding events and is set within the Rural 1 Planning Area due to this in order to avoid the establishment of such uses which are incompatible with flood events.

    The Description and Intent of the Barron-Smithfield District specifically states that the “Barron Delta should continue to be utilised as productive agricultural land because of susceptibility to flooding.

    The subject site is located within the Barron-Smithfield District and Rural 1 Planning Area. The site is further affected by Overlays including the Flood Management Overlay as being within the defined Q100 flood event.

    In summary the development does not comply with the Desired Environmental Outcomes of CairnsPlan. The Development does not achieve the Performance Criteria and Acceptable Measures set out in the Flood Management Overlay Code and Rural 1 Planning Area Code.
Council's Q100 flood mapping proves the extent of predicted floods.

A Federal Government Geological Survey reported in 1999 that Cairns has a rather peculiar flood hydrology:
  • The delta on which the bulk of the city stands has not been fed by a river for perhaps many tens of thousands of years. It does not, therefore, have the level of threat from major riverine flooding experienced in other coastal Queensland cities, such as Brisbane,
    Bundaberg, Mackay, Rockhampton or Townsville, which grew around their river ports.

    The only river that poses a significant flood threat within the study area is the Barron River, which separates the city from its northern beachside suburbs, though smaller catchments can cause serious localised flooding throughout the area. The trauma of major flooding of the Barron River in the early days of the Trinity Inlet settlements has probably minimised the risk to the present-day Cairns community - the lessons of its flood potential were learned at an early stage.

    Floods in successive years in 1877, 1878 and 1879 sped the abandoning of the original Smithfield settlement on the Barron (sited in the area of present-day Stewart Road, Barron), reinforcing the choice of the shores of Trinity Inlet as the preferred site for the port and settlement.

    The Barron River catchment covers about 2 300 square kilometres. The river rises on the Atherton Tableland near Atherton and flows north through Mareeba before turning east to enter the lowland delta through the spectacular Barron Gorge below Kuranda. It is fed by several major tributaries on the Tableland, the largest of which are Granite Creek and the Clohesy River, whilst Freshwater Creek, joins the Barron below the Gorge. The delta covers about 45 sq km with Thomatis Creek - Richards Creek providing a distributary channel at the mouth.

Here's the Barron River Delta with Paul Freebody's proposed waterpark site marked by a red circle. The blue fill is the flood scope over successive years. Wonder what any investor in this hair-brain scheme is thinking about now?

The Bureau of Meteorology's Peter Baddiley said in an October 2003 "Flood Risk in Cairns" report said that the Cairns region, on the north tropical coast of Queensland, forms part of the wettest area in Australia.

"With mean annual rainfalls of 2,000 to 4,000 mm, during the summer and early autumn months, intense rainfalls associated with cyclones and other tropical weather influences persist for several days, and can produce severe flooding in the Barron, Mulgrave and Russell Rivers and smaller drainage systems," Baddiley said:-

  • "The major river system in the region, the Barron River, drains an area of 2,000 km2 on the elevated Atherton Tableland to the west of the coastal ranges. From the Tablelands, the river flows eastwards through a steep and narrow gorge to a coastal plain delta covering about 50 km2, a few kilometres to the north of the Cairns central business district.

    Major floods in the lower Barron River inundate a large proportion of the delta. Small drainage systems around Cairns, including the various streams and creeks with their headwaters in the coastal ranges immediately to the west of the Cairns City and the local drainage system for the Cairns urbanised areas, are also susceptible to flooding during intense rain periods."

A Facebook group set up to support the waterpark, quickly gained over 9,000 members, mainly children from around Australia and overseas. A subsequent group was set up for Adventure Waters, Freebody's company behind the project. It sports 102 members.

"We did it! The people were heard and now Cairns will be getting a water park thanks to Mr. Paul Freebody. Adventure Waters will be the first big theme park Cairns has ever had and will rival the water parks found on the Gold Coast," Freebody wrote on his own homepage.

After the final approval was given by a 4-7 majority, Paul Freebody tried to butter up those that didn't support his wet dream.

"It made the difference and showed the seven business-minded councillors what the public wishes were," Paul Freebody said. "The other four councillors could not be convinced and should not be condemned for voting against the approval as they have that right and we need to respect their right to vote the way they did and just move on."

"I must say a special thanks to the water parks local councillor and Deputy Mayor Margie Cochrane who went with the community wishes and desires and fought tooth and nail to get this approved," Freebody said. "All need to remember the odds she was up against and showed the qualities of a great leader. Well done Cr Cochrane!"

This was in stark contrast to his vile outburst when he went on radio just three weeks earlier, slamming a number of female Councillors with vile language. Listen to Paul get all moist and wet with John Mackenzie on 846am 4CA...

Paul's wife, Kim Freebody, was later embroiled in a debate following her support of an online hate campaign against Cairns Mayor Val Schier.

CairnsBlog even commissioned it's own Official Under Waterworld Unfeasibility Study.

Bfore Council gave the go-ahead, Freebody himself was seen on the excavator, digging up the river course on the property, flouting local EPA laws, a sign of things to come.


Smithfield Sam said...

Freebody sent emails threatening legal actions for "defamation" to all the certified objectors to the project in an attempt to bully and intimidate them. I've seen one of these emails, in which he "cleverly" points out is "copied to his solicitors".

He's now continued his threats in today's ComPost. What he doesn't understand is that the sugar farmers, currently the region's only successful business, is cashed up and more than willing to fight this cretin. Freebody only a few weeks ago acknowledged he's short millions, and he's been desperately sending out money solicitations to everyone he can think of (in likely violation of ASIC financial investment laws).

And this week he's started clearing the site!

These Freebody's are a real piece of work.

Unknown said...

So will the Freebodies now start a : "the Mulgrave Sugar Mill is crap Facebook site " ?

And how are Mckenzie and his loyal fans going to react to this?

Can we expect the same torrent of abuse and ridicule directed at our cane farmers as was directed against others who had legitimate concerns about this development?

Is Freebody going to go public and heap abuse and insults on the management of the Mulgrave Sugar Mill in the same manner as he lambasted the council and especially Kirstin Lessina ?

If none of the above happens, then it exposes Freebody and McKenzie for the hypocrites they are. If so-called "greenies" object to something, there is no end to the abuse and ridicule. But if a redneck farmers organisation objects to the same thing, there is a deafening silence..

Of course they could do the decent thing. Acknowledge that this development was not suitable at its planned location and apologise to all they abused and ridiculed.

Freebodys R us said...

The Mulgrave Mill's appeal action will sink this oddball project - but probably not as fast as the site where he wants to throw in a reputed $35 mill - which he can't even get from any of his mates !!

I giess when they did a google search on "Barron River Delat" - thanks to Mr Parisi and other objectors and Council's own planning dept -- they backed off faster than a 8 year old approaching Paul Freebody in his regulation Adventure Waters bright pink speedos!!

This was the best news I've heard all year.

James Matson said...

Gunna be an interesting fight. I wanna see the Freebodys in a ring with the sugar farmers.

Wonder if TicktLink will organise the event?

Dolly, Paul Freebody's lover said...

So to all the people who have bagged this water park and the location, if it can't go on that land, where is the most likely place it can be built with out all bitching. It's most probably one of the best ideas that has come out for kids to have fun, it's not all about adults even though they will go.
Don't forget that without tourists either, which happens to be a lot of parents with kids as well if they love the place they will come back again and it will be magic for the local people. Not every one has 35mil in there back pocket these days toinvst in Cairns to have fun.

" A fly trapped inside your idle Excavator" said...

Oh Paul you are so naughty, its unlike you to be sneaky and putting post on this blog under the name of Dolly.

Your fingers are all over it, you are a paragon of correct grammar!

For someone that says they do not read the Blog you are pretty up to date. You see, your compliment wife told a friend of mine that you always have the Blog on in the background cause you need to answer Moore's scurrilous stories.

I know you are short of money and you will be expecting the Council to do your bidding. Well, my friend, I and many others will be watching you and the Council to make sure we keep you and your Council mates honest.

This is your baby, it is of your making, so "for good or for worse" consistent with your 'happy clappie nuovo chuch' rantings you will have to find the money to fight your court case.

How will you fund > $ 250,000? Back to America you go!!