State Government backs $600m mega eco-resort on Great Keppel
THE State Government green light for a $600 million resort proposal on Great Keppel Island signals another major step towards the biggest tourism development within the Great Barrier Reef area in 25 years.
Queensland's Coordinator-General has approved a proposal for a 250-room hotel, 900 eco-resort villas and apartments, a 250-berth marina and a golf course.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney yesterday said the project, 12km off the coast at Yeppoon, would be one of the biggest tourism developments in the country while using "world's best practice environmental standards".
He said the Tower Holdings project would create hundreds of construction jobs during a 12-year building period and lead to more than 1000 permanent operational jobs for the region.
Mr Seeney said the Coordinator-General's report contained 38 pages of conditions covering all possible project impacts.
"This decision is a major milestone to getting this new eco-tourism plan delivered," he said.
The proposal must also gain Federal Government approvals to proceed but last month Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson gave a strong indication this was imminent.
The project has faced vocal opposition from environmental groups but garnered strong support from tourism and business operators.
The dredging of Putney Beach to create a 250-berth marina was the area of greatest controversy, and received the bulk of objections from the local community.
The GKI resort will include a 575ha environmental protection precinct, 45% of the island and buffer zones to protect habitats and fauna corridors.
It could become Australia's first carbon-positive resort island with more than 24,000 solar panels installed to meet energy needs.
The resort plans to use dredge material from the marina in geo-textile tubes to build a breakwater and will recycle all its wastewater to ensure no ocean outfall.
Mr Seeney said the solar panels were expected to generate enough energy to offset and surpass the resort's emissions.
He said the "innovative" reuse of dredge material would eliminate the need for sea dumping and would ensure the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage values were protected.
Mr Seeney said the staged development would begin with the 250-room hotel, accompanying restaurants and conference facilities at Fisherman's beach.
The 250-berth marina at Putney Beach, includes a yacht club and hardstand storage, 150 marine precinct apartments, a ferry terminal and staff accommodation. Subsequent stages would include sustainable building designs such as rooftop solar panels and water tanks for the 750 eco-resort villas.
He said a Greg Norman Australian designed golf course was an essential part of resort's wastewater reuse and treatment infrastructure and a great lure for tourists.
"The GKI proposal equated to the use of only 3.5% of the island for infrastructure, compared to 8% in a previously proposed design refused by the Federal Government in October, 2009," he said.