World Heritage fears ignored

Cr Ian Petersen said council called for the mainland to be considered separately more than a year ago.
Cr Ian Petersen said council called for the mainland to be considered separately more than a year ago.

THE State Government appears to have ignored a Gympie Regional Council plea over its plans for World Heritage listing of the Cooloola coastline, despite now purporting to welcome public submissions.

Environment Minister Kate Jones announced at the weekend the start of a public consultation period for a government plan to include the Cooloola Coast, including Inskip Point and Rainbow Beach, in the Fraser Island World Heritage Area.

Ms Jones said the public now could have their say on what she called a “joint Queensland and Australian Government effort to extend the famous World Heritage Area.”

“If the community do decide that Cooloola should be nominated and if the international governing body (UNESCO) do ratify the nomination and declare it a World Heritage Area, then it will bring a great deal of well earned international attention,” she said.

However, council Planning and Development Committee chairman Ian Petersen said the suggestion that the community would make the decision appeared to contradict council’s experience so far.

He said the government had rejected, without any apparent consideration, council calls more than a year ago for the mainland to be considered separately, in view of its separate pet access, infrastructure and environmental issues. The government appeared to have already prejudged the issue by pressing ahead with a listing proposal which could greatly impact on existing residents, visitors and council water supply and sewerage services.

Cr Petersen said council had supported World Heritage listing on the mainland, from Inskip Point south, but only if it was treated separately with separate rules.

“The mainland area is unique, it is different from Fraser Island,” he said.

Aside from possible laws against walking a dog on the beach or campers having pets at Inskip, the cost of council water supply and sewerage charges could increase greatly.

Council Planning chairman Ian Petersen said that his committee had written to the EPA warning that “council foresees detrimental impacts on the Cooloola area should it be appended to the Fraser Island World Heritage area listing.”

In a report to council on March 11 last year, he said the EPA had advised there was “little likelihood” of the mainland being considered for separate listing with its own rules.

This was despite a warning that “the conditions that apply to Fraser Island could have a dramatic impact on council infrastructure ... and serious ramifications on the traditional manner of public use in areas such as Inskip Point and Teewah Beach.”

Council ratified a committee recommendation “that council advise the EPA that if the Cooloola area cannot achieve a separate listing, then council withdraws its support for the proposal.”

Cr Petersen said water supply and sewerage disposal restrictions could increase costs “not just by 20 per cent but probably double.”

Gympie Times

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