DATE: 1 February 2018
TO: MEDIA LIST
Local community and conservationists have written to the Minister for Local Government, alerting him to deep community concern over huge subdivision proposals in the exceptionally biodiverse Myola Valley – and warning of what appears to be a systematic developer-driven campaign to undo FNQ’s regional planning framework.
Two developers – Macau-based Ken Lee and local Easton family – are proposing a huge subdivision of land (182 ha, 450 acres) currently designated ‘rural’ under the 2004 Shire Plan, despite the fact this plan was superseded more than a year ago.
Ken Lee’s subdivision application is an additional and alternative development to his proposed ‘Kur-World’ mega-development, which is long overdue to release an EIS. This latest move may represent “a bet each way” for Mr Lee and his backers.
Both subdivision proposals were prepared by the same consultant (Cardno) and appear very similar in form and content.
Mareeba Shire Council currently seems to be supporting the developers’ opinion that this development is ‘Code Assessable’; not ‘Impact Assessable’ – and may therefore be approved at the less exacting level of assessment, disregarding public opinion.
Just as the Kur-World issue has been declared “off-limits” for Councillors to discuss with concerned constituents who would be directly affected should it proceed – Councillors have again been told not to communicate with the public over these latest development proposals, despite their unprecedented scale.
In 2013 the Kuranda Region was forced back into Mareeba Shire Council against the expressed wishes of a large majority of residents. It was an act of bastardry by the Newman Government whose effects have yet to be reversed. Now Kuranda residents once again find themselves struggling against an unresponsive, unsympathetic Council which seems to lack understanding about good process and public consultation – and even evinces hostility to environmental concerns in its lust for development at any price.
Perhaps most disturbing of all, the proponents subdivision application mounts an argument that FNQ 2031 may be disregarded – less than halfway through its lifespan! That case is based on what we regard as specious and utterly unconvincing arguments (see below).
The State Government should now step in and restore confidence in FNQ’s planning process. We ask the Minister to affirm the continuing applicability of FNQ 2031 to the Myola Valley – and rule out these subdivision proposals that are a blatant grab for private profit through windfall gains.
We hope the Premier shares our view that the Kuranda Region is a unique part of the State that must be protected – and that good planning comes from public participation and community agreement, not the exercise of undue influence by well-connected land speculators.
Kuranda Region Planning Group Media Release
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“Therefore, whilst it is acknowledged that the approval of the proposed development may, at face value, appear to be inconsistent with the designation of the site within the Regional Landscape and Rural Production Area (RLRPA), the proposed development is not inconsistent with the manner in which the Regional Plan has been interpreted and implemented having regard to local conditions.”
“It is also relevant to consider the time that has passed since the Regional Plan came into force in 2009*, at a time when the Integrated Planning Act 1997 (‘the IPA’) was still in force. For reference, the IPA has since been replaced by both the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 and the PA. The Regional Plan is no longer reflective of current land use and development trends within the region, nor is it consistent with the State Government’s current policy direction with respect to regional planning. In this instance, where a development is being considered eight years after the Regional Plan came into force, it is appropriate to apply a level consideration of planning merit in reading the Regional Plan as a whole.”