The Qld Government is committed to “fast tracking” the processing of development applications.
Qld’s biggest-ever tourism development - a $1.4 billion integrated tourism and residential community at Ella Bay, near Innisfail in far north Queensland - has recently been approved by the Qld Government.
The approval of this project was made possible through changes which will be implemented through legislative amendments to the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA).
The EIS process for Ella Bay began in 2005. The current Coordinator-General brought it to a conclusion over the last seven months. The Sustainable Planning and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 was passed by Parliament on 13 November 2012.
The Bill enables the Qld Government to fast track development by:
§ improving the coordination and responsiveness of state government in dealing with particular development applications (proposing development within or partially within state jurisdiction);
§ removing master planning and structure planning arrangements;
§ reducing regulatory 'red tape' for development applications involving a state resource;
§ allowing a development application where not all the mandatory supporting information has been provided;
§ providing that certain provisions within the Qld Planning Provisions also apply to local government planning schemes made under the Integrated Planning Act 1997 (repealed)
§ enabling the Planning and Environment Court to order costs in certain circumstances;
§ introducing an alternative dispute resolution process in the Planning and Environment Court for minor disputes which will enable these disputes to be resolved more quickly.
The Coordinator General has granted approval for the Ella Bay project and sent his report to the Federal Minister for Environment Tony Burke for his consideration. Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said his assessment would be thorough in the 30 business days in which he had to make a decision.
The project proposes the creation of three resort precincts, four residential precincts, a retail village, an 18-hole golf course and a cassowary research and education centre on the site of a 450 hectare cattle property.
The tourist development would comprise 860 units and villas and the residential component 540 permanent residences. The developer has also proposed sustainability measures which include the project being totally water self-sufficient through rainwater capture and recycling, the use of renewable energy resources, with all power to be generated on-site, a number of environmental protection and management programs, and ‘green’ transport options on-site.
The Coordinator-General’s approval is subject to 38 conditions and Satori gaining all statutory State approvals, Commonwealth approval and meeting its commitments listed in the report. The Coordinator-General’s assessment was based on the proponent’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) addressing key issues relating to the cassowary population, water quality and road access, including a 4 kilometre upgrade of the existing Ella Bay Road and a new 880 metre road that will bypass Flying Fish Point. The Coordinator-General’s report can be viewed at: http://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au
State Development Minister Jeff Seeney said he believed environmental concerns, particularly for cassowaries, had been taken into account.
"There is fencing to stop them crossing the road indiscriminately in areas where they might be endangered and then there will be tunnels for them so they can cross under the road in a safe manner," Mr Seeney said.
However, the developer's own report into other cassowary crossings in the region found they were not well used.