Zipline not a done deal, says Opposition

THE controversial Mt Coot-tha zipline project can still be shot down by the State Government, a Labor councillor says.

Greens MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman, also was hopeful the Government would block the project despite a green light to move to the next stage of the approval process.

The State Assessment Referral Agency last week decided that a six-abreast “mega zip’’ experience and a single “treetop’’ experience could proceed.

An artist’s impression of a skywalk at the zipline project.

That was despite SARA earlier this year blasting Council for underestimating tree clearing, visual and other impacts.

SARA told Council it was now satisfied the zipline project would not require additional clearing of native vegetation for firebreaks and safety buffers, and bushfire risks would be managed appropriately.

“The department is satisfied that the construction of the zipline takeoff and lookout platform adjacent to the Summit Lookout will not worsen impacts on views currently available from the Summit Lookout,” SARA’s decision read.

“The development has minimised impacts on the cultural heritage significance of the Mt Coot-tha Forest Reserve.

“Conditions have been imposed to limit the extent of clearing of native vegetation necessary for the construction and operation of the development.”

Opposition Council environment spokesman, Cr Steve Griffiths, said despite that the project was “not a done deal as the Lord Mayor is portraying it’’.

“The Lord Mayor is actually misleading people. We’re still going through the development application process and the State Government still has not made its assessment.’’

Tourism Minister Kate Jones, speaking at a press conference this morning alongside Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, also emphasised that Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham still had to make a ruling.

Mr Lynham said in Parliament last October that the zipline was an “inconsistent use’’ of the two parcels of state-owned land it traversed, which are managed on its behalf by Council “for a public park and for no other purpose whatsoever’’.

He later forced Council to conduct a second round of public consultations, which close on December 31, and will then make a decision on whether the zipline is an “allowable’’ inconsistent use.

Public consultation on the council’s development application, which has been conducted simultaneously with the State Government land use consultation, closes tomorrow.

Despite Council saying that there were only about 200 submissions on the development application, as of Wednesday, by that afternoon Mr Berkman’s office was aware of at least 1000 submissions.

Both Mr Berkman and Cr Griffiths urged the public to make separate submissions on the state-owned land before December 31.

Cr Quirk, when asked if the thousands of petition signatures and public submissions opposing the zipline showed there was widespread community concern, said it did not matter how many submissions were made.

“When submissions are assessed, we look at what are the concerns raised in those submissions, against the detail and the facts around the application,” he said.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there at the moment and I would just say to those who are spreading that … that is incorrect information.”

Cr Quirk did not specify what the incorrect information was, other than to deny Council wanted to clear 28ha.

He did not answer questions about exactly how many trees would be cleared, however, confirming only 200 large trees would go.

The Council’s development application, which will be assessed by itself, does not say how many smaller trees, shrubs or undergrowth would have to go.

It convinced SARA that it could manage fires through controlled burning, not clearing, which it said would limit the amount of clearing.

Cr Quirk also refused to say if proponent Zipline Australia had the necessary savings, or locked-in investors, to pay for the multi million-dollar project.

 

Brendan O'Malley, Wetside News, 13 December 2018

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