Tin Can Bay marina goes to Garrett
GYMPIE Regional Council yesterday reluctantly formalised its decision to approve its part of a controversial marina proposal at Tin Can Bay.
“Caught between a rock wall and a hard place,” as Cr Julie Walker observed last week, councillors unanimously adopted the recommendation they made last week when they sat as members of council’s Planning and Development Committee.
Watched at both meetings by Bay residents opposed to the project, councillors were acting on a staff planning report which said council’s only area of jurisdiction was a rock wall and a boardwalk, Cr Walker’s “rock wall and a hard place”.
The rest had already been approved, sometimes with conditions, by a range of government departments, including the Department of Environment and Resource Management.
Planning Committee chairman Ian Petersen again rejected claims by DERM management that council had approved the marina and had every legal right not to.
The claims were not backed up by an offer to indemnify council against the almost certain defeat it would suffer in court if it rejected the plan.
Cr Petersen also denied DERM claims that it had identified the marina in its town plan, saying the plan acknowledged the existence of government decisions on the matter, just as it recognised the existence of the Pacific Ocean.
Apparently attempting to blame council for any unpopular aspects of the project, DERM’s Regional Services director Randall Hart had said: “Gympie Regional Council’s own planning scheme sets out the proposed marina as an appropriate use within the designated State Boat Harbour”.
Cr Petersen responded: “The State Government designated the boat harbour, not us.
“The town plan also recognises the existence of the Pacific Ocean, but we did not decide on putting it there.”
He told yesterday’s general meeting: “The committee is recommending that council approve an application to develop a marina at Norman Point.
“The committee acknowledged the concerns of the numerous submitters and petitioners but, contrary to some statements in the media, council has absolutely no jurisdiction over any of the issues of concern, and no valid planning grounds to support a refusal.
“It is my personal view, and I am sure a view shared by the majority of councillors, that it would be completely irresponsible to expose our ratepayers to the almost certain prospect of huge legal costs where our jurisdiction amounts to probably less than 0.1 per cent of this multi-million-dollar project.
“As a declared action, the matter will now be referred to (Federal Environment) Minister Peter Garrett for a final decision under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.”
CEO of the project’s developer (Seymour Group), Tony Bellas, said last week he would delay comment on the project and its impact until after the decision reached by council yesterday.