Tuesday, September 8, 2009

False Cape receives another development freeze from Environment Minister Peter Garrett AM MP

Before I start just a warning that all photographs in this story are the property of Mr Steven Nowakowski and are copyright. He has been kind enough to share these images with me and you too so in return here’s a little plug for his website…check out http://www.stevennowakowski.com/ .Thanks Steven and here’s the story!

I don’t like some of Minister Garrett’s decisions however this is one that anyone with a bit of brains can see deserves a big green tick.

False Cape is a mess thanks to it being the wrong development in the wrong location. A year ago Minister Garrett AM MP acted responsibly by putting a 12 month freeze on this development due to the massive environmental damage that the proponent had inflicted on this site.
Click on photo to enlarge.
Photo copyright Mr Steven Nowakowski, reproduced here with permission.

He also required repair work to be carried out on the property to control the runoff from erosion which was pouring out to the reef.
Click on image to enlarge.

Well surprise surprise the developer’s $650 000 bond which was meant to be left with the Cairns Regional Council had disappeared like a fart in a fan factory so the rate payers of Cairns got the grand opportunity to pay $150 000 towards temporary remediation work (which won’t be much use this wet season so it will be off to the ratepayers again for more funds). Brilliant hey!

My heart sunk when on 20 August 2009 I read The Cairns Post article “False Cape restart hopes”. I read that False Cape property developer John Ewans was stating “We are determined to push ahead”. I had to have a laugh when developer John Ewans blamed green activists and the Cairns And Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) for halting his project. “The sooner Cairns kicks out CAFNEC the better the place will be” said Mr Ewans according to the article.

So let me get this right, this development smashes up an environmentally sensitive area allowing tonnes of runoff to flow out to the ocean and in turn the reef, The proponent fails to pay for $150 000 worth of temporary repairs and council foots your bill using ratepayer funds, The proponent falls behind with his own rates and then he points your finger at CAFNEC saying they are the bad guy ... man am I missing something here or what??

My short term fears were allayed when on 3 September 2009 I read The Cairns Post article “Ban stays on False Cape”. Mr Garrett AM MP stated in the article “Under the national environment law, I can suspend approval for another 12 months if I am not satisfied that appropriate measures have been put in place to protect the nearby World Heritage area,” He also said “The company has failed to fix up the erosion and sediment problems at the site, so a suspension will remain on the development’s approval.”
Photos copyright Mr Steven Nowakowski, reproduced here with permission.

What does it all mean? Well as I said Minister Garrett AM MP has done the right thing by placing another 12 month ban on the development. I would like to publicly thank him for his choice, so often we leap at opportunities to criticize our leaders and rarely do we thank them for good work.

That said there is still a long way to go at False Cape. With wet season looming more repair work needs to be completed to arrest the loss of more of the hill slopes into the ocean and in turn the Great Barrier Reef.

Ultimately a revocation of approval for the False Cape development is needed and a buy back of the property by the government. At least the placing of a second suspension on the development is another step in the right direction by Minister Garrett AM MP.

Personally I think the land should be confiscated from the developer taking into account the massive cost of repair works but the law might not see it my way!!

You know what’s really frustrating about this? It’s that the authorities were warned of the looming disaster by groups such as CAFNEC and SAVE FALSE CAPE as well as many individuals like Mr Steven Nowakowski who together have contributed thousands of hours to protecting this area and the nearby World Heritage Great Barrier Reef.

I would like to thank these groups and individuals for their efforts. Next time I look at photos of the Great Barrier Reef I will remember that there are people out there grinding away often against tremendous odds to ensure such places have a future…more power to them and may they triumph over greed and stupidity.

Oh and one more thing check out the YouTube video of sediment run off at False Cape.

... it really brings home the message and fully supports Minister Garrett’s stance on this matter.

Enjoy the stories and the pics.

Cheers Russ

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