The Spit continues to be very popular with residents and visitors as a place to relax and recreate, especially in the challenging year that was 2020.
Its value to the Gold Coast community cannot be disputed as the public sought to enjoy our green and blue recreational areas.
The commitment of so many in the community since 2003 to protecting The Spit has been justified over and over again and they will continue to watch over it during the implementation of the Master Plan and beyond.
There are many positive happenings on The Spit, but still some issues that require on going advocacy and vigilance.
The positives are the projects relating to the adopted Master Plan and issues relate to the cruise terminal in Phillip Park and helicopter flights.
Work has been progressing on The Spit in implementing the Master Plan adopted by the State Government following extensive and award winning public consultation. The State Government has committed $60 million over 4 years to the Master Plan with implementation by the Gold Coast Waterways Authority.
The Covid 19 pandemic interrupted the flow of work but the following have either been completed or are underway
In addition to these projects some state owned land in the Village Centres North and South have been released for expressions of interest in development of resort, tourism, retail, hospitality and marina developments in accord with the Master Plan. The height limit of 3 storeys (15m) remains.
All of these projects are framed by the Public Realm Guidelines to ensure consistency of design characteristics and a minimum accepted standard of materials and finishes. More details are available here https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/33132/the-spit-public-realm-guidelines.pd
Feeding into these Guidelines is the Place Making and Identity Strategy for signage and interpretation. This can be viewed here https://gcwa.qld.gov.au/the-spit-placemaking-identity-strategy/
The Cruise Terminal. As a result of the sudden severe decline of the cruise industry during the pandemic the Council has put the planning for the offshore cruise terminal on hold. The Mayor, Tom Tate, still claims it will be resurrected when the cruising industry revives, but when that might be is an unknown quantity.
The objections to an offshore terminal remain and were reinforced by the reality of the impact of the severe storms in late 2020. Save Our Spit Association Facebook page recorded that the Waverider buoy failed in the 11metre waves, so it is difficult to understand how a safe harbour can be created on the ocean-side of The Spit (https://www.facebook.com/saveourspit/)
Transparency and Accountability of decisions: The Council continues to base its business case for the cruise terminal on the 2017 PwC Report which has only been partially released to the public. Crucial information in the report has not been made available for public scrutiny, so Gecko has been following through on a Right to Information request. The initial request went to Council and was refused on the basis of business confidentiality. Gecko has appealed to the Office of the Information Commissioner who has replied “OIC has formed the preliminary view that the balance of the public interest favours release of the information you seek under the RTI Act.” However it appears the Council has to be given a second chance and it is “to advise, by 11 January 2021, whether or not it will agree to release of the information. In the event that it does not accept OIC’s preliminary view, and continues to object to disclosure, we have asked Council to provide submissions in support of its objection, again, by 11 January 2021.” Gecko awaits the outcome after 11th January.
Helicopter Joy Rides and Noise Pollution- an unsatisfactory conundrum. For several years visitors to The Spit as well as the residents of Main Beach and Southport have suffered the almost continuous noise of joy ride helicopter flights taking off and landing from Marina Mirage and SeaWorld about every 5 minutes, 7 days a week. A group, Coalition Against Environmental Noise Pollution, continues to undertake extensive investigation and advocacy as to how this situation has arisen and persists. Gecko has supported this group’s efforts with letters to Council and every relevant Government Department, but the law, it seems, is totally inadequate to control the situation. There does not appear to be a legislative body that can control the helicopters once they are in the air and none of the environmental noise legislation appears to apply. Finally in December 2020, Gecko received a letter from Council advising they have issued a ‘show cause’ notice to Gold Coast Leisure Services/Helitours and are awaiting a full response before they can decide on further action. The Council email confirmed that a recently approved redevelopment application of the site from which the joy rides operates “did not approve helicopter operations to occur from the subject site or approve a facility for such use.” If this is the case then perhaps the joy flight operators will have to go elsewhere – wherever it is it will cause noise pollution problems.