Judge talks turtles in controversial development fight
Sunshine Coast Council says the impact a beachfront development it approved could have on turtles would not equal a failure to maintain or enhance their ecosystem.
Judge Gary Long is deliberating on whether or not the council complied with proper town planning processes after it was taken to court by community group Friends of Buddina.
The passionate group grew concerned about the impact the Buddina Beach apartments would have on the environment and the neighbourhood after councillors last year voted in favour of the 21m-high, 73-unit building at Iluka Ave and Talinga St.
Barrister Chris McGrath on Thursday told the Planning and Environment Court there were three primary errors in the council's decision relating to considerations for beachfront character, views and vistas, and the Coastal Protection Overlay Code.
The council and developer Diamond 88 on Friday defended its position that those sections of the planning scheme had been considered in the approval.
Dr McGrath, representing Friends of Buddina, had argued the council had considered the development aimed to minimise its impact on turtles, which misconstrued the assessment benchmark.
He said the council should have considered if the development would keep the coastal ecosystem the same or improve it.
Barrister John Ware, for the council, on Friday responded by saying the planning scheme required developments to maintain or enhance the ecosystems, not specifically the turtle nesting system on Buddina Beach.
"But if the turtles are recognised as being part of the ecosystem and their part of the ecosystem is not maintained, how is the ecosystem maintained?" Judge Gary Long replied.
Mr Ware said the impact on one part of the ecosystem did not equal the failure to maintain or enhance the overall ecosystem.
Diamond 88's representative barrister Mitchel Batty told the court there "can't be any sense" in Dr McGrath's submission that the council hadn't considered the concept of views and vistas.
"And the concept of views has an interrelationship with height," Mr Batty said.
"The 21m sets the benchmark that is expected in this location.
"The council had regard to that and assessed it as being appropriate."
Mr Batty said a council report found the proposed building was attractive, appropriately designed in a subtropical way and effectively addressed the land's three street frontages.
He said the building was consistent with what was found on the Coast.
Dr McGrath said the beachfront surrounding the development was relevant, not the beachfront of the area.
"This beachfront has no large buildings at the moment," he said.
Mr Ware reiterated his view that the council had considered all relevant benchmarks.
He said if Judge Long found otherwise, the development may still have been approved had all benchmarks been considered.
Judge Long told the court he would take time to review evidence and the law and deliver a decision at a later date.