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
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.
Re: Development application for a Material Change of Use for Air Services (Aviation Facility) on land
described as Lot 3 on RP732964, situated at 2224 Tully-Mission Beach Road, Mission Beach.
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.
Latest on court appeal orders
On 3rd Dec 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.
On the 3rd September an Order (above) was made by his Honour Judge Morzone QC.
The appeal will be reviewed on 3 December 2021
On the 6th August the court ordered MH to respond to C4 correspondence by August 15th.
Next appeal review is listed for 3rd September.
All relevant COURT APPEAL
SUPREME AND DISTRICT COURTS CAIRNS
Grounds C4 has filed to appeal the Heliport approval decision
Grounds on which Mission Helicopters, as co respondent , will defend the appeal .