Saturday, February 25, 2017
Carbrook luxury resort development to be built in koala habitat
Seven of the 11 Logan City councillors voted on Tuesday to support a five-star hotel and convention centre in Carbrook, described by council as the largest “tourism infrastructure project” in the region’s history.
The 1528-unit riverside project raised eyebrows after it was revealed Liansheng Yue, the Chinese-born businessman behind the development, donated $63,300 to Logan Mayor Luke Smith’s election campaign last year via Australian Yues International Development Group.
Cr Smith has recused himself from voting on any aspect of the approval process for the development.
However, further concerns were raised because the 22ha former prawn farm was identified as a koala habitat under the South East Queensland Regional Plan, which meant that the project required State Government approval. That was granted with strict conditions earlier this year, including stringent environmental and traffic controls, after state interests were assessed.
Wildlife Logan spokesman David Keogh said the approval was another example of “death by a thousand cuts” for koalas.
“For the past 20 or 30 years we’ve heard about governments trying to protect koalas but all we’ve seen is more development being built in conservation areas. This is just another nail in the coffin.”
A huge University of Queensland retrospective study into the cause of koala decline, spanning 17 years of data and more than 20,000 koala hospital admission cases, found virtually all koala trauma cases presented to animal hospitals could be blamed on humans, directly through motor vehicle incidents, or indirectly through dogs, livestock, or drowning.
The study found koala habitat encroachment due to land clearing and urbanisation was strongly associated with koala trauma.
“There’s quite a proportion of animals that are healthy that are being killed by dogs or killed by cars, and they are the strapping young males looking for love,” UQ School of Veterinary Science associate professor Rachel Allavena
“And those are the animals that will go on to replenish the population.”
The study was funded by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
Researchers hope it will help koala stakeholders target resources more effectively.
Environment Minister Steven Miles said the Queensland Government took the protection of koalas very seriously.
Logan City Council believes their project will support about 600 local jobs when it is completed, injecting $53 million annually into the region’s economy.
“This is exactly the kind of investment that will drive Logan’s tourism economy into the future,” council’s planning boss Cr Russell Lutton said.
“It will create jobs and provide Logan with a world-class waterfront drawcard not unlike Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast.”
However, Division 10 councillor Darren Power, who was one of three who voted against the project, said he had “major concerns” it would “damage the city’s reputation when it fails as a tourism destination and becomes cheap housing too far removed from any infrastructure”.
“(It) now places the whole regional plan in danger with this decision, as developers look for cheap land now that a precedent has been made,” he said.