A community meeting was held at C4 on Saturday 23rd January to discuss options following the disappointing decision of the Council to approve the contentious helipad development.
Ex Cassowary Coast Regional Council Mayor, Bill Shannon, attended the meeting and was able to answer questions and clarify points brought up during the meeting. Bill was reminded that his council denied an application in 2008 lodged by the then existing Raw Materials owner to expand the business. Bill agreed the application for an expansion of the business was refused on the grounds it was inconsistent with the intent of the planning scheme as was the helipad, commenting further, "It should not have been approved".
Where was the “robust assessment process” boasted by the Mayor? It certainly wasn’t evident at the General Meeting (21st January).
Where was the tabling, report or even discussion about the properly made and lodged petition carrying 650 signatures against the contentious proposal to place an intrusive development on good agricultural land that threatens to destroy the peace and quiet amenity of local residents? Are these affected residents of no account to this Council?
Where was the discussion about the content of hundreds of emails councillors received from local, regional and national people outlining their concerns?
A development that obviously hits at the heart of the community and will have a major impact on the future of Mission Beach, took just fourteen and a half minutes for the councillors to cast a vote in favour. (see meeting video below)
The council decision to approve the amenity destroying helicopter project has thrown many residents of Mission Beach into despair and a state of anxiety. Those who have chosen to live here have long responded to government planning processes to protect our natural environment and our village lifestyle.
The community now question how much this council considers the best interests of the public. Most of the councillors have demonstrated they have no understanding of the fundamental importance of the intrinsic values of our shire to the health of our community, environment and economy.
This is not just a Mission Beach issue. The CCRC is making decisions for the whole of the shire using the same 'logic' and decision making process. A large part of that is carried out behind closed doors at pre meeting 'Councillor Information Sessions'.
More information on what actions the community can take to help, including letter writing and fund raising for an appeal will be distributed soon.
Planners report starts at 136:00 Council 'discussion' starts at 144:40
Liz Gallie of Mission Beach Cassowaries said, "It appears the Planner has attempted to address some of the communities concerns by including statements about cassowaries, Native title land and defining the actual use of the land." "But the latest report contained even more inconsistencies and contradictions, justifying recommending approval of the development, with irrelevant details of helicopter use at other locations".
"The main issue, noise, has not been dealt with" said Liz
Cr Baines, who holds the CCRC environment portfolio, made no comments during the debate and voted to approve the development.
The Mayor summed up by saying the councillors had all been well informed and could make a considered and informed decision adding " The development was overall consistent with Cassowary Coast Regional Council Planning Scheme and the FNQ 2031 Regional Plan.
C4 President Peter Rowles said "The council has approved a noisy disruption to our lifestyle and high value environment because the Planning Scheme doesn't provide the legal protection it should"
The community say they will now be considering what options are available to challenge the council's decision.
See below the live streamed meeting.
Council meeting 21 Jan 2021 live stream. Item 7.3 DA Heliport starts 1:36.00
Is this all part of the ‘Activate Cassowary Coast - Development Incentive Plan that is attracting developers and speculators who have no understanding of the values special to Mission Beach?
Reports such as this indicate a skew in favour of developer over public interests.
The proposal does not comply with the strategic intent and desired regional outcomes for Mission Beach in regard to agricultural land, the environment, the cassowary and the village amenity. It must be refused.
The proposal is also likely to have a significant impact on the endangered cassowary
Here's hoping the council will act in the public interest at their general meeting on Thursday and at the very least defer their decision until independent impact reports are produced and the Federal Government has assessed the proposal under the EPBC Act.
Developers have an obligation to refer any development that is likely to have an impact on matters of National Environmental Significance i e World Heritage Areas and threatened species/ ecosystems, all of which are subject to impacts with this proposal.
Over 200 residents met at 10am this morning for an update on a proposed aviation facility they say will destroy their lifestyle and sense of place.
A strong message was reaffirmed among those who attended that there is a community expectation for the council to make decisions in the public interest. For Mission Beach residents the things that mold their sense of identity are the quiet, peaceful village atmosphere, the exceptional natural environment and the cassowary. They claim the proposed development would have an unacceptable impact on all of those things. The Planning Scheme fails to protect the values the community say are the reasons they live at Mission Beach.
ABC TV reporter Jemima Burt was there to cover the story.
Liz Gallie from Mission Beach Cassowaries, Peter Rowles of C4, and award winning tourism operator of Epic private Journeys, Pedro O'Connor addressed the crowd gathered at Miter Street, located close to the proposed heliport flight path.
The crowd acknowledged and welcomed the attendance of The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Barry Barnes.
Peter Rowles impressed on the crowd the importance of using the Planning scheme to guide the future by avoiding incompatible land uses and the importance of low impact eco based tourism at Mission Beach.
Pedro O'Connor said a helicopter facility would destroy tourism potential at Mission Beach adding Mission Beach has not been set up for high end tourism instead known as a low key boutique destination.
The community believes they are being bamboozled by the conflicting claims and say they cannot trust what is being said by the proponent or the planning department.
The following is quoted from the DA lodged in February 2020 (the basis of the public consultation),
"Specifically, the applicant proposes to develop an Aviation Facility at the subject site for the purpose of providing passenger transport inclusive of island connections from the region’s major airports (Cairns and Townsville) to support the local tourism sector. Associated uses including medical transfers, aerial firefighting and search and rescue operations will also be undertaken on an as required basis.
It also states the proposal is for air services used for any of the following :
The following is from the Planning Report released on 7th December recommending approval, "Furthermore, the applicant has confirmed that the majority of the helicopters proposed to be stationed at this aviation facility are not proposed to be used for “joy flights”. The type of helicopters proposed are highly specialised multi-role helicopters and provide a range of services including aerial firefighting, heavy-lift and aerial crane, and reconnaissance missions. There is a direct linkage between the specialist nature of these helicopters, and the high cost of operation, the number of movements will generally be lower than what would be expected from a tourism operation".
The report claims the proposal is lower impact by excluding tourism operations
The Planners report also claims agricultural activities can continue on the lot as the development footprint is only 1.27% of the overall site. Yet the proponents plan shows approximately a third of the lot is allocated for air services and the rest of the lot designated for future development.
A report commissioned by Mission Beach Cassowaries and C4, made available to the CCRC, confirms the development will have a significant impact on the endangered cassowary.
Based on community expectation and the environmental report alone, the development should be refused.
At the very least, the CCRC decision must be deferred until there has been:
For more information
A proposal for a purpose built helicopter facility between Mission and Wongaling Beach has conservationists and community members up in arms.
WIN News Cairns
They're worried its approval could infringe on the Cassowary Coast's namesake, with potentially disastrous consequences for the town's identity and economy, despite the promise of low impact and predicted returns.
Rain failed to dampen protest
14 January, 2021
POURING rain did not deter more than 150 residents from attending a public meeting in Mission Beach on Wednesday to express concerns about a proposed helicopter base in the heart of the ecotour ism town.
People are worried that the proposed aviation facility on the Tully-Mission Beach Road will have a negative impact on property prices, tourism, the World Heritage environment and wildlife, including cassowaries, and the peaceful, laidback lifestyle.
Peter Rowles, president of Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4), which organised the meeting, told the gathering the lack of clarity around the development application by Victorian-based Kestrel Aviation and the contradictions between it and the planning report to Cassowary Coast Regional Council were cause for concern.
“There is still insufficient information for an informed vote on this deferred application when it is presented at next Thursday’s Council meeting,” Mr Rowles said.
Much of the conflicting information concerned whether the base would be a tourism venture using light helicopters to ferry visitors between Cairns and Townsville and the offshore islands or whether, as stated in the planning report, Mission Beach would be a base for heavy-lift helicopters used in firefighting and emergency services.
Calls by C4 to Kestrel Aviation to gain clarity on the development proposal had not been returned.
“Emergency services and medivac operations are already catered for by contracted companies with established bases in Cairns and Townsville,” Mr Rowles said.
“We are not against new business – we encourage economic growth of the Cassowary Coast region – but the proposed location of a noisy helicopter base will have a negative impact upon existing businesses, residents, tourists and wildlife.
“There are aviation facilities available at Tully and Innisfail and either of these sites would be a better option.
“Mission Beach is the centre of tourism on the Cassowary Coast so this development has implications for the whole region.
“We live in one of the few places in the world where two World Heritage areas (Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef) lie side by side and visitors from all over the world are attracted to this region because of its natural beauty and biodiversity.”
Mr Rowles made a point of welcoming local Division Three Councillor Trudy Tschui, who had come to listen to the meeting. He encouraged everyone to read the development application and planning response and to note inconsistencies, contradictions and omissions, and to email councillors with their concerns.
Petitions with around 750 signatures asking the Council to refuse the development application had been presented this week, and representatives of C4 and Mission Beach Cassowaries had made a deputation to the whole Council on Tuesday.
The Hon Bob Katter – email@example.com
Member for Hill Shane Knuth - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mission Beach Community objects to an industrial helicopter base being established in the heart of Mission Beach
Download A4 poster to print and place inside your car window.