Following several letters from Gecko asking about the future of The Spit master Plan the Government finally put forward a Bill “The Implementation of The Spit Master Plan” and called for submissions from the public which closed on 16th December 2019. Gecko made a submission which you can read in full here https://gecko.org.au/download/Campaign/20191214_SUBM_Implementation_TheSpitMasterPlan_Bill-final.pdf
In essence Gecko expressed overall support for the Bill as necessary to protect the achievements of The Spit Master Plan and a hope that the Bill and the Plan would have bipartisan support so seeing an end to the decades of conflict over the future of The Spit.
The Bill gave the Gold Coast Waterways Authority (GCWA) additional powers in the role of administering The Spit Master Plan in the public parklands and community infrastructure. GCWA is to prepare a yearly plan of works as part of a three year plan of works and is to report on this on a quarterly and annual basis. In addition to cover these additional responsibilities the Board of GCWA would be increased by three people qualified in project management, development or town planning. The Bill also made minor changes to the Land Act to facilitate lease arrangements in the commercial areas of “The Villages” and the Minister has the right to close roads if necessary for implementation of the Plan.
However the following issues were raised:-
• The need for clarification of whether this Bill gives security of tenure to the public parklands, Wavebreak and Curlew Islands.
• The need to include either the Plan’s vision statement or the Aims of the Bill to provide guidance to the implementation of The Spit Master Plan.
• Whether the public would be consulted on proposals for the implementation of community infrastructure and restoration of the public parks.
• The need for clarification of the role of GCWA in commercial development proposed in The Villages precincts. As such development will require town planning assessment by Council, it is necessary for the community to understand the relationship between GCWA and Council.
• The need for a Board appointment to include a suitably qualified person in architecture or design to ensure imaginative proposals, consistency of design themes, high quality of work and sustainability of the end product.
The outcome of submissions to the Bill will not be known until March 2020.
Since the Spit Master Plan (the Plan) was finalised two major issues have emerged that again require community action to protect the integrity of the Plan.
These two issues are the construction of a heliport by Sea World on their car park and the proposal by the Southport Yacht Club to build a superyacht facility at Jack Gordon Park. Gecko has written to Minister Cameron Dick (Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning) requesting an urgent response to our concerns. You can read the full letter here https://gecko.org.au/download/Campaign/20191220_SthportYachtClub_SuperYacht_berths_Helicopters_-final.pdf. A response is unlikely until mid-January.
Helicopter noise pollution: The first issue is the construction of the heliport on the Sea World carpark, which appears to have been allowed under delegated authority and was not put out for public objection. This facility enables helicopters to take off and land every 7 minutes on joy flights and compounds the noise pollution already suffered by nearby residents and visitors to The Spit by the Marina Mirage helicopter flights of equal frequency. Apart from the distressing impact of this intrusive noise pollution, this activity was not discussed or included in the Plan and undermines the integrity of the Plan by taking over a large part of the public car park and preventing the future construction of the western foreshore walkway envisaged to link the commercial precincts with the parklands to the north.
Gecko has also raised the concern that this incessant noise will deter investors from investing in the commercial precincts of The Spit as hoped for in the Plan.
A resident’s action group has formed to stop this activity Coalition Against Environmental Noise Pollution and you can support them through their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/211506992965037/
The Plan included the possibility of a superyacht facility being built alongside Jack Gordon Park, Waterways Drive, with “A secure transparent fence separates the berthing facility from the park,” but it did not indicate that the entire park would be taken over resulting in the loss of well used public parkland and the mature trees it supports.
The information received about the proposal also mentions that the Southport Yacht Club expects to receive a $4 million grant from some agency, though the source of the grant is not specified in the documents Gecko has viewed.
$4 million is a large grant and there is a striking lack of transparency and accountability attached to this activity, especially when it is recognised that once the Yacht Club has paid off an additional loan of $1.5 million, they need to proceed with this proposal and they will be in receipt of income exceeding $200,000 p.a in perpetuity.
It appears that the Yacht Club will benefit considerably from this project, but the community loses important public open space, with no recompense.
Stop the Cruise Terminal by ousting Mayor Tom Tate at the Council elections in March 2020.
The cruise terminal for large cruise ships, proposed by Mayor Tate, has now been accepted by the Coordinator General as a coordinated project, despite many objections from the public.
This means that the Mayor, using ratepayer funds, can proceed with the writing of specialist reports to fulfil the requirements of an environmental impact assessment (EIA). This project which Mayor Tate claimed would not cost the ratepayers a cent is estimated to have cost $12 million so far in reports and staff wages. This sum does not include the loss of Philip Park to the public. The ratepayers do not have an opportunity to object to their hard earned funds being used by the Mayor for the purpose of completing the EIA. The only objection they can make is by not electing Mayor Tate for a third term in the Council elections on March 28th 2020.
The Terms of Reference (TOR) for the EIA have not been made public yet and when they are they will required the Mayor to provide expert reports on engineering feasibility, environmental impact on land and in the ocean, financial feasibility, marketing, benefits and disadvantages to the community, transport of passengers and goods to and from the ship, risk management etc.
The public will have the opportunity to make submissions on the TOR to ensure they are comprehensive and further down the track to the EIA itself.
In the meantime the Brisbane port cruise terminal which has the support of the cruise industry, unlike the Gold Coast proposal, is well under construction.