Community groups label surf ranch a green wipe out
A PROPOSED 'Surf Ranch' west of Coolum was in reality an intensive urban development on a flood plain that did not have broad scale support, according to community groups who have been briefed on what was planned.
The five groups have issued a joint statement amid concerns that an interview involving World Surf League (Australia) general manager Andrew Stark may have given the impression they supported the project.
Sunshine Coast Environment Council, Coolum and North Shore Coast Care, Friends of Yaroomba, OSCAR and Development Watch have made clear in a statement "that nothing could be further from the truth".
"It was clear from the outset that this project represents an intensive urban development on a floodplain with an ambitious and exclusive 'surf ranch' part of the overall concept," the groups said.
They met with Mr Stark and Don O'Rorke (Executive Chairman Consolidated Properties) on October 14 for a briefing on the project.
The project included approximately 1500 residential lots, commercial, retail and hotel complexes, a school and "the superficially appealing" 'Surf Ranch'.
"The 510ha site lies within a particularly low-lying area of the Maroochy River floodplain where it already experiences tidal inundation as well as being extremely flood prone regularly flooding to average depths across the site of 2m and 3-4m in large sections," the statement said.
"It is zoned rural in the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme and sits outside the Urban Footprint in the southeast Queensland Regional Plan.
"Both these planning instruments and associated policies and assessments recognise the significant constraints of this parcel meaning urban uses, such as that proposed in this latest speculative venture by Consolidated Properties, are not a compatible land use nor contemplated."
They said the proposal was completely at odds with not only the relevant planning instruments but sound planning and the need to avoid risk to people and property from flooding.
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The groups warned that catchment-wide flood modelling for the Maroochy and climate change projections showed intensification of development on an already highly-modified floodplain resulted in loss of flood storage capacity and was likely to create significant impacts on already vulnerable communities.
"The Maroochy catchment is a short, coastal catchment with a high annual rainfall," the groups said.
"Any changes within the catchment, such as those proposed through this development, will likely amplify overall impacts."
Serious concerns were also held for the proposed wave pool the dimensions for which provided by Mr Stark suggested water volumes of 350,000 cubic metres extracted from the nearby Maroochy River, its associated waterways and interconnected groundwater via a complex (and unsustainable) pumping system into the pool then circulated onto constructed wetlands and a series of 'lakes' - presumably for the up-market 'lakefront' housing lots.
"This risky and energy intensive process could severely impact on the hydrology of the river and its protected wetlands, the statement said.
"Coolum Creek Conservation Park and the regenerating Yandina Creek Wetlands are within proximity to this site. The mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of acid sulfate soils to 'create' an aspirational 'developable' area of some 125ha compounds the unacceptable risk from this project."