REJECTED: $1.2 billion development canned by council
THE developers behind the $1.2billion Hummock Hill Island resort remain committed to the project despite Gladstone Regional Council rejecting its development application yesterday.
Council officers recommended refusal of Pacificus Tourism's proposed Hummock Hill Island resort, 30km south of Gladstone.
The report from staff told Gladstone Regional Council there were 17 grounds for refusal.
Six of the 17 grounds for refusal were in relation to environmental concerns.
The 465ha master plan area had proposed to incorporate accommodation areas supported by retail and commercial areas including a spa retreat, golf course, sports club, driving range, boat ramp, airstrip, surf lifesaving club and community centres.
After debating the project for nearly an hour, Gladstone Region councillors voted five to four to reject the proposal.
The main concerns surrounding the development related to its potential to be in direct competition with the key tourist areas of Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy.
In May last year it was declared a "prescribed project" by State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham.
The status gives the Coordinator-General the power to overturn any decision made by Gladstone Regional Council.
A Pacificus Tourism spokesman said despite the "disappointing" decision by the council, the company was considering the best way forward to proceed with the project.
"Since 2005, we have gained all the necessary State and Federal environmental approvals to develop a world-class tourism development on Hummock Hill Island just outside of Gladstone," he said.
"During this time, Gladstone Regional Council have been fully informed and consulted on the project, which is why today's result is so disappointing."
Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett said while it had been approved by the state government, the council's responsibility was to ensure it adhered to the region's planning scheme.
"It's no secret the Queensland Government support this project overwhelmingly and so do the Federal Government," Cr Burnett said.
"This is a planning application that council decides and it doesn't meet the planning scheme by any stretch of the imagination."
Councillors Kahn Goodluck, Peter Masters, Cindi Bush, Rick Hansen and Mayor Matt Burnett voted to reject the proposal.
Councillors Glenn Churchill, Desley O'Grady, Chris Trevor and PJ Sobhanian voted against the rejection.
Cr Churchill said he was pleased to see the item on the council's agenda more than eight years after an initial development application was approved.
"It was December 17, 2009 when the proponents first went on this journey and I've made it quite clear in my previous life (as CEO of the region's peak tourism body, GAPDL) that there was support for these type of developments in our region," he said.
"The Queensland Government through Economic Development Queensland has sanctioned the project as one of significance.
"This particular project is an economic debate, not a planning scheme debate."
Cr Goodluck accepted Cr Churchill's comments regarding the economic stimulus the project would provide for the region, but had reservations surrounding the impact on Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy.
At peak capacity of 3900 tourists and permanent residents, the development could exceed the size of the two coastal communities and place economic and social burdens on them, the council's report on the development stated.
"No doubt it would be a great investment into our region," Cr Goodluck said.
"But the reality is we have a planning scheme which is ultimately there to protect our community and our future generations.
"I don't think there's been another application that I've seen before me that has had such a substantial case against approval.
"It's about protecting Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water and their future economic growth and stability.
"It's about ensuring that future generations aren't potentially liable for a massive infrastructure cost."
Cr Goodluck said there were also environmental concerns.
"We've got to assess it on a planning scheme and I hope if any state government was to side against us they'd take into consideration all these legitimate points that are noted out in the comprehensive report," he said.
Cr Hansen and Cr Masters made it clear they weren't against a development of this scale, but said it was in the wrong location.
"It's not like we are against development, I love that there's interest to spend this kind of money in our area and absolutely love the idea that it can create so many jobs we desperately need," Cr Masters said.
"But as Cr Hansen said, and in my opinion, it's just in the wrong place."