We have composed a draft letter for you to send to the Federal Environment Department asking them to remind the heliport proponent, Ray Cronin of Mission Helicopters, of his obligation to refer any development that is likely to have a significant impact on a matter of National Environmental Significance, to be assessed under the EPBC Act
Download the document below.
Please read the document and write a letter in your own words using any of the points in our draft.
Your letter will have more weight if it is written in your own words.
Thanks for taking the time.
In Oct 2017 the 50th Anniversary of the saving of Ellison Reef from lime mining was celebrated at Ninney Rise'. Guest speaker, Prof Bob Pressey of ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies - JCU Townsville, began his address, titled 'Death by a thousand cuts' with, "The development assessment process is broken, it's been broken for a long time and it is kept broken deliberately."
With the approval of a heliport allowing three medium lift helicopters to operate early morning to late afternoon, 7 days a week, in a tourism destination known for its quiet and peaceful amenity, the community has become painfully aware public interest is not at the forefront of council decision making.
Not just about Mission Beach - a Cassowary Coast issue
Council decisions bely the rhetoric reinforced in their own policies, strategies and plans. Following is from the CCRC Corporate Plan . (below right)
The lack of Federal and State Government oversight has resulted in Planner’s reports being produced using shallow reasoning, blatantly justifying support for developments despite conflicts with local and State planning. When Planning department recommendations or councillor decisions are questioned, the public are informed they have the right of appeal. The council’s “ If you don’t like it, take us to court” attitude treats public interest with contempt.
If the communities of the Cassowary Coast thought they could go back to some 'normality' after a resounding rejection of a council that ruled in secrecy with a bias embracing speculators and developers ahead of the public interest, the heliport decision has given a sobering reminder that is not the case. A culture was introduced with the former council that remains entrenched in the operations of the so called democratic process of our present council.
Feel secure and watch this space. There is a heliport, or something equally as inappropriate or shocking, coming to a place near you soon!
Mission Beach Cassowaries Inc
0414 402 315
We have just set up a Go Fund Me account to raise funds for an appeal
Please send/share this throughout your networks.
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 15th January 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
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This website is managed by Mission Beach Cassowaries inc to share information about the No Helicopters Here campaign against the approval of A HELICOPTER BASE on 2224 Tully Mission Beach Road.
Court appeal chronology
28th February 2022.
C4 entered into a compromise settlement with Mission Helicopters. The appeal did not proceed to a court hearing.
3rd December 2021
The appeal was reviewed. Judge Morzone ordered (above) the appellant (C4) to provide a list of matters they wish to be considered for inclusion in the proposed conditions attached to any approval of the development application.
3rd September 2021
Order (above) made by his Honour Judge Morzone QC.
Appeal review listed for 3 December 2021
6th August 2021
Court ordered MH to respond to C4 correspondence by August 15th. Appeal review listed for 3rd September.
3rd June 2021
Grounds on which Mission Helicopters, as co respondent , defended the appeal .
5th Mar 2021
C4 filed to appeal the Heliport approval decision