Keppel Island plan won't fail

WILL it be third time lucky for Tower Holdings?

The developer confirmed yesterday it would submit a third proposal for a low-rise resort on Great Keppel Island early in the new year.

Anthony Aiossa, the project’s manager, said he was confident it could come up with a plan that would satisfy Environment Minister Peter Garrett.

Mr Aiossa said the revised plan would be significantly scaled back and would focus on addressing Mr Garrett’s concerns.

“We will use Mr Garrett’s issues as the basis for shaping our new plan,” he said.

Speaking exclusively to The Morning Bulletin, Mr Aiossa said after two billion dollar schemes had been rejected, the third plan would not only protect the environment, it would improve it.

Mr Garrett’s decision to bin the second proposal has strengthened the company’s resolve to demonstrate tourism activities could be developed which were sympathetic to the environment, he said.

“We have been urged by community leaders, business owners, mums and dads and students not to walk away.”

He said the company had had a number of meetings with Environment Department officials, brokered by Member for Capricornia Kirsten Livermore, this month, and was encouraged to have another crack.

The company had met with its environmental consultants already and instructed them to work on a proposal that could be subjected to a full environmental impact study.

“We want the plans to be rigorously tested for the local community to have a say. We are hopeful that Minister Garrett will allow this important project with the opportunity of being put through a stringent environmental assessment process,” he said.

While the company is unable to give details of how much the new scheme would cost, or how many jobs it might create, it has given an insight into its eco-friendly credentials.

It will include: a serious commitment to the use of renewable energy; a sustainable water supply plan which does not involve the use of the island’s groundwater reserves; 100% water recycling and re-use; substantial dedicated conservation areas; no diversion of existing waterways; no adverse run-off into the marine park or wetland area; state of the art sewage treatment system.

All the buildings would be low-rise and designed using the world’s best technology to maximise natural ventilation.

News that the company had dusted itself off from the body blow of a second rejection delighted other GKI businesses yesterday.

Max Allen Junior, or Freedom Fast Cats, described it as fantastic news that would delight the coast’s tourism operators.

Gerry Christie, of the Island Pizza restaurant, said he was confident the island could become a world-leading eco-friendly attraction and catalyst for a revival in the region’s tourism industry.

GKI TIMELINE
  • February 2007: Tower Holdings buys Mercure Great Keppel Island Resort for $20 million and announces it will be refurbished
  • February 2008: 120 staff made redundant and resort closed
  • March 2008: Tower Holdings offers Woppaburra people $11 million for 99 year lease on land it owns on GKI. Offer rejected.
  • December 2008: Department of Natural Resources and Water declares Lot 21 on GKI must not be commercially developed
  • December 2008: Tower reveals it would have invested $2.5 million in a super resort with two golf courses and a new runway
  • May 2009: Tower reveals new GKI plans - $1.14 billion, one golf course. Embarks on charm offensive to gain support.
  • October 2009: Environment Minister Peter Garrett says no to revised plan.
  • November 2009: Kirsten Livermore brokers talks between Tower and Environment Department aimed at salvaging resort
  • November 20 2009: Tower confirms it will submit a third proposal for one of the world’s most eco-friendly tourism resorts.


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