World Heritage Magnetic Island - worth caring for...
MINCA'S CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT RADICAL BAY
MINCA has been actively following and providing input into the debate surrounding the proposed development at Radical Bay on Magnetic Island for about a decade.
MINCA’s concerns about the potential development at Radical Bay are based on the fact that the land is:
Part of a World Heritage property [the GBRWHA];
Habitat for EPBC listed species including the green and flatback turtles (both Vulnerable), Croton magneticus (Vulnerable)????, and the striped-tailed delma, Delma labialis (Vulnerable), and for EPBC listed endangered ecological communities 11.2.3: Brigalow Belt – Low microphyll rainforest on Quaternary coastal dunes and beaches.and 11.3.11: Brigalow Belt – Semi-evergreen vine thicket and semi-deciduous notophyll rainforest on Cainozoic alluvial plains;
High in biodiversity, coastal protection and nature-based recreational values related to its remoteness and largely undeveloped nature, and the close proximity of vine thicket on both sand dunes and alluvial soils;
Used by EPBC listed migratory species including Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeanglia); Crested hawk (Aviceda subcristata); Brahminy kite (Haliastur indus); White-breasted sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucagaster); Brown goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus); Grey goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae); and Peregrin falcon (Falco perengrinus].
Radical Bay Easter 2011. Note land cleared by the developer behind the trees and eroded vegetation on the beach (Photo: George Hirst)
Radical Bay Easter 2011 (Photo: Wendy Tubman)
The history of Radical Bay, Magnetic Island.
The very potted history of the ongoing Radical Bay development saga is:
1950 Land at Radical Bay is freeholded.
2001 Juniper Development Group purchases. Juniper Development Group, the current owners, buys the site (3.85 ha of freehold land and a further 4.9 ha of leasehold land) at a price reputed to be between $1m and $2m, and, soon thereafter, applies for permission to build on it a high-end ‘Sea Temple’ resort.
2003 Application to renew the lease An application to renew the lease on the non-freehold land is refused by the State government.
2005 Proposed development of 12 beach houses and 98 units in 4-5 storey blocks Despite then current restrictions on building at Radical Bay, limiting development to ‘a small scale tourist facility development’, the development was to incorporate 12 beach houses and 98 x 2 or 3 bedroom units in 4-5 storey blocks. To the amazement and despair of MINCA members (and many others), the development proposal received conditional approval from all levels of government. The federal minister for the environment signed an approval (which had effect for one hundred years!) but which contained the words “If, at any time after five years from the date of this approval, the Minster notifies the person taking the action in writing that the Minister is not satisfied that there has been substantial commencement of construction of the Radical Bay Resort development, construction of the Radical Bay Resort development must not thereafter be commenced.” It would appear that the Sea Temple proposal is dead in the water.
2006 Juniper decides against the Sea Temple Resort For reasons unknown, but possibly associated with the manifest lack of demand for such development on the island, Juniper decides against the Sea Temple Resort and applies instead for approval to divide the freehold land into 24 residential lots. These would be sold off to individual buyers.
2009 MINCA applies for funds to buy the land MINCA applies to the federal government for funds to buy the land (as it had earlier purchased land at Bolger Bay), explaining its purpose as:
“To enhance the integrity of and mitigate threats to a unique area of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) and the Northern Brigalow Belt by purchasing for inclusion in the NRS – and subsequently restoring and maintaining – an isolated pocket of freehold land within the GBRWHA, bounded by the waters of the GBR Marine Park, Magnetic Island National Park and unallocated State land (future National Park). To involve community and indigenous groups and individuals collaborating to protectland that is recognized as having unique conservation values within the GBRWHA, is not well represented in IBRA, is a habitat for listed endangered and vulnerable terrestrial and marine flora and fauna, and contains aboriginal artifacts, yet is threatened by urban development, loss of biodiversity, coastal degradation, and invasion by weeds of national significance. Importantly, because of its location, threats to this land present ongoing flow-on threats to the larger surrounding protected area.”
2010 Application for federal funds fail. The MINCA application fails to attract federal funds.
However, the revised development application from Juniper has also not been so successful.
2011 Townsville City Council rejects Juniper's application Notwithstanding a conditional approval from the state Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), Townville City Council rejects the application at its meeting of 22 March 2011 on the basis of concerns over the construction and upkeep of a road to the private development and on the basis that the proposed development does not meet the City Plan’s Desired Environmental Outcome 3.1 (d) Health and Safety no. 9: “Ensure development is planned to reduce the risks of loss of life, injury, property damage resulting from landslip, flooding, bushfire, cyclones and other emergencies or disasters.”
On 4 May, Juniper filed an appeal against the decision in the Planning and Environment Court (to which, each party is required to front up with a Conflict Resolution Plan). The appeal was not expected to be heard until, at the earliest, September 2011.
A review of the erosion at Radical Bay In the meantime, Townsville City Council wrote to DERM asking for a review of the erosion at Radical Bay that includes a survey of the present condition of the beach and the possibility of increased severity of storm events on the North Queensland coast as advised by the Queensland Government.
The issue of the erosion prone area (a legislated buffer between the ocean and any development) has caused concern, as DERM has accepted the developer’s shifting of the area seaward – an action that allows development closer to the water. For a dicussion of this issue click hear to read the Magnetic Times article, TCC’s Radical decision raises questions over DERM's role.
A new development application The development application is expected to re-trigger the EPBC Act and thus be assessed at the federal level.
What's happening now? MINCA has been active in making submissions and comments throughout the above process, and will continue to lobby for the protection of Radical Bay which is a magic part of the world, and of environmental significance.