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Environmental judge shoots down Rainbow Shores proposal

Reg Lawler
Reg Lawler

LEADING Queensland environmental judge Michael Rackemann yesterday killed off one of the state's most controversial beachfront property ventures.

Rainbow Shores Stage Two went from dormant to dead with the judge's ruling in the Planning and Environment Court.

A jubilant Reg Lawler, who led community campaigning against the project, yesterday claimed final victory in a battle which has been before the court for about two years, making it, he claimed, possibly the longest running case in the court's history.

Mr Lawler's clearly researched arguments defeated some of the state's highest paid and best connected consultants and lawyers.

"It's not that I'm so clever. It's just that I was right; that always helps," he said.

The project aimed to massively accelerate growth at Rainbow Beach, more than doubling its peak population.

QUEENSLAND'S Planning and Environment Court yesterday lauded "the natural beauty, interest and attraction" of the environmental jewel which is Gympie region's Rainbow Beach.

But that will be precious little comfort to pro-development interests who were yesterday too stunned to comment on the court's rejection of the controversial Rainbow Shores Stage Two development proposal.

Judge Rackemann ruled that the project, which has divided the tiny coastal tourist village for years, would have unacceptable impacts on flora and fauna, would conflict with various planning schemes and was not supported by any demonstrated and sufficient economic, community or planning need.

He dismissed an appeal by developer Rainbow Shores Pty Ltd.

Gympie Regional Council had rejected the relevant development application on instructions from the state Department of Environment and Resource Management.

But the judgement revealed the council did so with apparent reluctance, arguing consistently since that the developer's appeal should be upheld.

Following what Judge Rackemann described as a "somewhat tortured history", the long-running battle finally came to a close yesterday morning.

In his written judgement, Judge Rackemann found there were no bushfire management, wastewater reuse or groundwater access issues which warranted the beachside development's refusal.

He also found the resort development would not have an unacceptable impact on natural amenity or the surrounding landscape, but would impact flora and fauna and biodiversity, as well as breaching various planning documents and not being justified by need.

Rainbow Shores Pty Ltd is the holder of a 30-year lease, due to expire next year, on the 200ha site, on the Inskip Peninsula.

Topics:  gympie regional council rainbow beach rainbow shores

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