Tower tries again for Great Keppel resort

A developer is again seeking approval for a massive new resort on Great Keppel Island costing $600 million

in what would be the first new Barrier Reef project in 20 years. Developer Tower Holdings said the draft EIS was the most rigorous environmental assessment conducted on the island and the project had been scaled back by 75%.

Tourism minister Martin Ferguson says the federal government is backing the plans by multi-millionaire property developer Terry Agnew to build the Great Keppel resort after twice rejecting more ambitious billion-dollar proposals.

New plans before the Department of Environment for a low-rise eco resort include 1300 dwellings, a 250-berth public marina, and 18-hole golf course. The plans could be approved by mid year but the works are expected to take as long as 15 years to complete.

However Capricorn Conservation Council co-ordinator Michael McCabe complains that Mr Ferguson’s statements showed the government had little regard for its own regulatory process, given the development’s EIS process was not complete. Such premature statements showed the decision would be a rubber stamp by the Federal Environment Department and the State Co-ordinator-General’s office.

Environment minister Tony Burke said this was not correct because many developments were supported by ministers but it was always understood this was subject to environmental approvals.

Tower had bought the original resort but four years ago closed it down and has been left to decay ever since. Tower has had already had two major proposals rejected for the site.

Seven island resorts have closed during the tourism downturn on Lindeman, Bedarra, Dunk, Long, South Stradbroke and Brampton islands

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