Tower to tend to observatory
AFTER eight years of patient persistence by locals concerned with Keppel Bay and the Southern Great Barrier Reef, action has finally been taken to order repairs to, or removal of, the derelict Middle Island Underwater Observatory.
Capricorn Conservation Council co-ordinator Michael McCabe said in a statement released last week that the news had been a long time coming.
"After years of frustration and uncertainty about the future of previously popular Middle Island tourist destination, word has been received that GKI Resort Pty Ltd (Tower Holdings) has been given one year to maintain the underwater observatory, or to remove the structure from the Marine Park,” Mr McCabe said.
"This decision comes eight years after the observatory ceased operation and following numerous unanswered letters to GKI Resort Pty Ltd and complaints to government ministers and authorities.
"Our environmental concerns, verified by the latest engineering report, include the physical safety of the rusting structure and the possible contamination or damage to Middle Island Reef.
"Since the closure of the Observatory in 2008, the reef around the Keppels has been showing great recovery, despite the series of large Fitzroy floods and severe storms and, if properly maintained, it again could become a tourist and diving drawcard.
"While Capricorn Conservation Council remains concerned that the new permit stretches the uncertainty of Observatory's future until late in 2017, at least the public has a clear timeline to assess the effectiveness of the regulator and to test permit holder's commitment to the environment and region.”