In a huge win for the north Queensland community – and one with echoing significance around Australia – a massive ‘eco-tourism’ resort proposed for the Kuranda rainforest has been discontinued.
The Environmental Defenders Office has welcomed the decision of the Queensland Coordinator General to let the KUR-World Integrated Eco-Resort project near Kuranda lapse. This follows over three years of community action to reject the highly inappropriate development in an extremely sensitive location adjacent to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
The development would have doubled the daily local population, with limited transport infrastructure and located in the middle of a critical environmental corridor that is home to many threatened and listed species, including cassowaries and the now critically endangered Kuranda tree frog.
Over 19,000 submissions were made to the Environmental Impact Study in early 2019, showing the depth of community opposition to the development. This was the largest response ever made to any coordinated project under Queensland’s system.
“We thank our community who have fought so hard over the last three and a half years against this monstrosity on our doorstep”, said Steven Nowakowski of KUR-Alert Inc, “Thousands of volunteer hours were spent researching and responding to the EIS. We should never have had to go through this process at all and the proposal should have been knocked back on day one as a delusional concept.
“We thank the Environmental Defenders Office, who have been a bedrock of information and support to us.
“Without the help and facilitation of the EDO, we never would have got to where we are today. It has been very reassuring to have them in the background, always ready to advise, and they were key in sourcing an environmental expert whose critique of the project proposal greatly strengthened our submission in response to the EIS.”
“It is a great relief that this wildly inappropriate project has been declared lapsed”, said Kirstiana Ward, Managing Lawyer of Environmental Defenders Office in Cairns.
“We are proud to have assisted the community in ensuring the protection of the threatened species and habitat that would have been impacted by this ‘resort’, including cassowaries, the Myola Tree Frog and Myola Palm.
“We warmly congratulate the community, who pushed back daily for years against this development. It is with great pride we also acknowledge the significant assistance our Cairns office received from colleagues in Brisbane and Sydney. Their collaborative advice, support and the provision of expert witness reports empowered the community to make thousands of well-informed submissions against this huge development. This shows we are a force to be reckoned with as a national organisation of expert environmental lawyers.
“We are also pleased to learn that a temporary Local Planning Instrument has been gazetted by the Honourable Cameron Dick, Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, infrastructure and Planning, to provide greater certainty for acceptable minimum lot sizes within the Rural Zone in Mareeba Shire and to give effect to the Far North Queensland Regional Plan to restrict further fragmentation of land holdings, including land in the Kuranda and Myola region.
“We thank the Minister for this urgent and necessary action to protect our community and environment from further inappropriate development. We also thank the Environment Minister, the Honourable Leeanne Enoch, and the Department of Environment and Science for their ongoing support and guidance throughout this process.”