Message to the environment minister

In case you aren’t aware, an MOU is a Memorandum of Understanding which is an agreement that expresses a convergence of will between the parties. In this case the mayor is hoping for one with the state government. We want to stop this project in its tracks (again) and you can help by sending a message to the Minister for the Environment.

It only takes a moment to sign this. Your details won’t be used for anything else…we promise…

Email the Qld Minister for the Environment

Hello

Dear Minister Scanlon,

Thank you for taking an interest in the Gold Coast City Council's push for studies for a Cableway to Springbrook. The Mayor is requesting an MOU from the State Government giving support to further studies. We request you don’t give this MOU.

Most of the State and Council land along the proposed cableway route are areas of high conservation and unsuitable for construction of such intrusive infrastructure. Gondwana Rainforests, of which Springbrook National Park is a part, were recently assessed by the IUCN World Heritage Outlook Report 2020 to have deteriorated from "good with some concerns" to "significant concerns".

Springbrook National Park is a small, fragile area, not designed for mass tourism. There is a significant lack of infrastructure like sewerage and town water, and these services will need to be exported and imported to support any influx of tourists coinciding with a cableway. In addition, the impact would be too great on the native flora and fauna as a result of the clearing and building of the cableway and continue to threaten those species already in danger.

The Coordinator General's report of 8 November 2000 clearly outlines why a cableway to Springbrook should not be built, and we believe therefore, that the proposed business feasibility study would be an unnecessary waste of public funds.

Thank you.

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Cableway crash kills 14

Key points:

  • The cable car collapsed on Mottarone Mountain near Lake Maggiore in Italy’s Piedmont region
  • The line was renovated in 2016 and only recently reopened after coronavirus lockdowns 
  • The Stresa-Mottarone cable car takes tourists and locals from the famous town of Stresa to the mountain top in 20 minutes

A mountaintop cable car plunged to the ground in northern Italy on Sunday, killing at least 14 people and seriously injuring three others.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it had been informed by Italian authorities that six Israeli nationals were among the dead.

The Israeli victims included an Italy-based family of four.

A photo of the wreckage taken by Italy’s fire squad showed the crushed and crumpled remains of the cable car in a clearing of a thick patch of pine trees near the summit of the Mottarone peak overlooking Lake Maggiore, in the Piedmont region.

At that location, the cables of the ski lift were particularly high off the ground, said Walter Milan, spokesman for the Alpine rescue service.

The cause of the accident has not been determined.

“It is a very serious accident,” Mr Milan told RaiNews24 television.

Mr Milan noted that the cable line had been renovated in 2016 and had only recently reopened after coronavirus lockdowns forced the closures of ski lifts across Italy.

more… https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-23/italian-cable-car-plunges-to-the-ground-killing-14/100159480

History of cableway proposals in Springbrook National Park

Periodically, the idea of a cableway to Springbrook National Park, part of the Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage Area, is proposed.

Originally proposed in 1998 by Ray Stevens (see background below), he then again, as a Member of the Newman government, announced in Parliament (October 31, 2014), he would build a private tourist enterprise – the Skyride Cableway through the world heritage listed Springbrook National Park. His announcement was made right after he voted in Parliament to change the purpose of the Nature Conservation Act to allow private business development on publicly owned national parks. Indeed when he announced the project in the Parliament he said that, despite his job as a member of parliament, he was the consultant and investor for the project, holding 300,000 class A shares. The LNP subsequently lost the 2015 election, and the Palaszczek government made changes to the purpose of the Nature Conservation Act in its first term, largely reversing it (but not entirely).

A cableway to Springbrook was again mooted in 2017 by Paul Donovan, Chair of Destination Gold Coast in the Gold Coast Bulletin. Wayne Moran, former – and now disgraced – chief of staff for Mayor Tom Tate, was/is a director on the Board of Ray Stevens cableway company. Former Tourism Queensland and theme park boss Terry Jackman was Chair of the company. It didn’t go anywhere at that time.

In 2019 (before Wayne Moran was stood down) and prior to the 2020 Council election, Mayor Tom Tate made an election commitment for a feasibility study into a cableway through Springbrook National Park. That study is currently in a “pre-feasibility” stage. There is speculation in the Tallebudgera Valley that land owned by Ridong towards the end of Tallebudgera Creek Road has been identified for the entrance facility to the cableway (although Ray Stevens’ company also owns land at Neranwood, which was originally mooted for the entrance facility).

This is an issue that is likely to raise alarm bells on a number of fronts.

Background

In 1998, Ray Stevens, then a private businessman, with a consortium which included Terry Morris (Sirromet Wines/Carrara markets), announced on the front page of the Gold Coast Bulletin that he was going to build a cableway, called Naturelink, through the spectacular World Heritage listed Springbrook National Park. National Parks (and the then Beattie Government) didn’t know about the proposal until it appeared in the paper.

After an extensive Environmental Impact Assessment process, and considerable concern by not just the Springbrook community, but the Gold Coast community, the Coordinator-General in the Beattie government refused the application, based on a range of unacceptable impacts. This was just before the 2001 election, and the Gold Coast, including Mudgeeraba (a key seat protesting about Naturelink), secured 6 seats, This was no doubt assisted by the turn against One Nation, but the cableway was a very contentious issue being run through a high profile “Cableway, No Way” campaign.

The Assessment process found that;

  • being a small park of less than 2,800 hectares, the clearing for the giant pylons, landing stations and access paths would adversely impact on the natural values (which include some 60 threatened species);
  • there was also a significant fire history and danger in getting people out if fire broke out;
  • there were big issues with hundreds of thousands of visitors to the head of the Gold Coast water supply catchment with no sewage treatment works (saying they would truck the human waste off the mountain);
  • geotechnical studies demonstrated the vulnerability of the area to landslide (indeed walking tracks have been repeatedly closed due to landslide) and;
  • the narrow winding road to Springbrook and the road through Mudgeeraba to the proposed entrance station weren’t suitable for the number of proposed tour buses and supply trucks.

So, after two years of careful consideration, the Beattie government refused it. Perhaps a good idea, but in the wrong place.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in its State of Conservation Report in 2000 “reiterated its concern in relation to the potential impact of the cable car project on World Heritage values and draw attention to similarities between this project and the cable car proposal at Morne Trois Piton National Park of Dominica. In the case of the latter, the State Party, following the recommendations of the Committee decided to relocate the site of construction of the cable car to areas outside the boundaries of the World Heritage property.

None of these issues have changed. Springbrook is still world heritage listed and a comparatively small park with a high number of threatened plants and animals, the town still has no town sewerage system (unable to cope with the estimated 800,000 people depositing their human waste at the head of the Gold Coast water supply), it is still eucalypt forest at risk of fire, there is still a narrow road up and down the mountain (so how will the supply trucks get there – indeed the main road was closed for 18 months following ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie), power upgrades to support the cableway are estimated to cost the state at least $10million and “big hitters” on the Gold Coast are still pushing for a massive private development on a public, world heritage listed national park, despite it falling over numerous times.

What has changed is that last season’s bushfires burned more than 50% of the Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage Area, including 26% of its rainforest, (forest that ‘doesn’t burn’). Springbrook was spared this time, but with more intense and frequent fire events as a result of climate change, it remains an even greater risk for a cableway. And the unburnt areas are even more important for protecting the area’s outstanding universal values. It is mooted that the feasibility study will look at less fire-prone routes than the original proposal, but in contemporary conditions, that is an illusion.

Given the impact of fire across the world heritage area, the World Heritage Committee and IUCN would look even less favourably at such a proposal than they did in 2000. Indeed, the IUCN World Heritage Outlook Report 2020 assessed the Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage Area to be of “significant concern”, the same assessment as the Great Barrier Reef in 2017 (now assessed at “critical”). The Gold Coast tourism industry does not need another Reef ‘World Heritage in Danger’ issue.

The Skyrail in Cairns has been successful – why is this different?

The Skyrail has been a successful tourism venture in the Wet Tropics. After 7 years of assessment, it was approved on the edge of a 900,000ha world heritage area – so does not sever a relatively small area like Springbrook at less than 3000ha. Although there are threatened species across that 900,000ha, there are half as many across a much wider area. It runs through rainforest so the fire risk is much lower and there is highway infrastructure and other tourism infrastructure to support it, leaving from Cairns and arriving in Kuranda. It is not at the head of the Cairns water supply, and Kuranda has sewage systems. Also, it commenced in 1995, predating the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which now assesses impacts on matters of national significance, including World Heritage and threatened species. So Skyrail in Cairns is very different to a Springbrook proposal.

There are great cableways throughout the world, but Springbrook is not the right location. There had been talk that a cableway to Tamborine would give great views of the Gold Coast and a great experience, with a lot of tourism infrastructure already established and no water catchment issues, but that would mean the developers would need to buy or use private land for more of the route, instead of taxpayer funded land.

Why do they want to use Springbrook National Park?

Springbrook is a spectacular place – people go there and are refreshed by its unspoilt beauty, both the town and the park.

It is recognised as part of one of the world’s most outstanding and valuable places – the Gondwana Rainforests. Some 500,000 people (including tourists, bushwalkers, picnickers and birdwatchers, and numerous commercial tour operators) visit each year and are refreshed by its unspoilt beauty, both the town and the park. It is world heritage listed – which means it has values that are internationally significant and have, or should have, the highest level of protection.

No doubt that would give a private developer a marketing advantage. Of course, it is also proposed to build the cableway predominantly on state owned lands – which must be seen as a cheap option – but there is no indication who would pay for electricity, road upgrades and sewage treatment.

Media – Cableway’s baptism of fire…and water

Springbrook cableway media article

The biggest challenges for a cableway in the hinterland are fire and water. Like most things on the Gold Coast, it’s all about location. Is Springbrook really the best place?

In 2000, the CoordinatorGeneral made an assessment of the Naturelink cableway proposed by a consortium headed up by businessmen Terry Morris and Ray Stevens.

This was an ambitious $50m gondola cableway stretching more than Ilkm from Mudgeeraba to Springbrook on a moving wire system capable of carrying 120, sixperson detachable cabins. It would land at a property off Carricks Rd near the Purling Brook Falls.

The environmental impact statement suggested the Coast was poorly equipped for nature-based activities and servicing the seniors’ market. This remains true today. We need a new tourism attraction.

Nothing much has changed with the protest group, either. They now post on Facebook, opposed to the $170m Neranwood to Springbrook proposal promoted by the council.

Its key concerns back then: fire risk in the national park and state forest, contamination of the water supply in the Little Nerang and Hinze dams and the potential of Springbrook losing its World Heritage status. They’ve resurfaced, and they’re real.

If anything, the fire risk is heightened, given climate change and how eco-tourism resorts in the hinterland were wiped out in the past two years by an uncontrollable blaze.

The Coordinator-General noted that Springbrook had 10 wildfires between 1981 and 2000, including six of high intensity. During three of them, flames extended 30m above the canopy.

“In the 1994 fire, the majority of the canopy along the proposed cableway was destroyed,” the Coordinator-General said. “This fire completely burned Purling Brook Falls from ground to canopy and sections of the walking track were closed for up to 12 months.”

The report cautions that the state could face liability in terms of fire damage to cableway infrastructure, and death of a passenger or worker.

The Coordinator-General was “not satisfied the environmental effects of the proposal can be addressed adequately” and found Naturelink must not proceed.

At the same time, a World Heritage Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia report put “uncontrolled or inappropriate use of fire” at the top of its list in terms of threats followed by “inappropriate tourism infrastructure”.

The latest Springbrook pre-feasibility study addressed the “bushfire hazard”. “Locating the facility in non-bushfire prone land may not be possible,” it said.

What about a boutique cableway to Mount Tamborine instead, to Gallery Walk? Critics will question the view, claim the landscape is boring and visitors want to be in the World Heritage forest and not taken on a joy ride”.

The critical thing here is up to $500,000 of ratepayers’ money not being wasted.

A state political insider suggests the council must ensure a heads of agreement is reached with the state government before proceeding on further expensive studies, the most important showing how environmental concerns can be mitigated.

Will Labor under Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s leadership agree, given her Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon depends on the green vote in the party’s only Coast seat of Gaven? From my view, to see the great mountain view, this will continue to be a trip by car.

Read the Cableway report – May 2021

Download and read the 2021 Springbrook Cableway pre-feasibility Assessment Prospectus

1. The numbers don’t stack up. There’s no way that 12% of the 38% of overnight visitors cited in this report will sustain patronage needed to cover costs. Projections of over 1600 passengers a day EVERY DAY?! Pfffffft.

2. Wages more than operational costs blows out budget.

3. Break even will take a decade.

4. Why are ratepayers footing this bill for a private company?

5. It’s a national park. Is nothing sacred?

6. We have done feasibility on this already in 2001 and it didn’t measure up

7. Where’s the tender process for further feasibility studies? Did Urbis write this report with knowledge there was $500k for next report or was Council so impressed to find someone to contradict previous studies and tell us all this is a great idea that they immediately decided to just give that gig to urbis?

8. Springbrook lacks the infrastructure to support a spike of tourists. It’s a sensitive area.

9. It’s cost prohibitive to most people

10. Private v public interests – socialising costs to privatise profits – is it really the Gold Coast way? Cableways…beach bars…cruise ship terminals…night racing…see a pattern here? The pattern is private interests with agendas seem to be pressuring council and state into stupid ideas so they can make a profit.

Don’t be fooled, ppl. These interests use any mechanisms and loopholes to push things over a line and get those boxes ticked. Be careful what you wish for.

We can’t afford to make silly mistakes based on whims and your rates.

Latest media articles

What people like this reporter don’t realise is that development in some areas is not good or needed. Visitors come to Springbrook because it is not Tamborine or Kuranda or Maleny. It is not commercialised. It has Airbnb’s and accommodation dotted in the forest. Walks in the National Park and quiet dark nights. Wildlife is found around every house. Why do others think they should change that and think Springbrook residents and visitors want the change. Also any past cableway proposal was never going to allow a cent to leave their business. The end point, with on-site cafe, shops,walkway and lookout has been placed at least 2km walk from the nearest local business.

It’s 2021 – here we go again

It seems that every 5 years, on average, the proposal to build a cableway to Springbrook rears its ugly head. Right on cue, here we go again with the Gold Coast Council making yet another push for this ridiculous idea.

It seems that the latest push is for a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) but almost 10 years ago this was seen as a flawed model https://theconversation.com/funding-the-future-after-the-demise-of-ppps-18869

Meanwhile, Mayor Tate released some of the report on feasibility of cableway. You can read the report (starting on page 63) here https://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/documents/ma/economy-20210512-agenda..pdf

Of course we always knew that since the Council paid for the report it would say how wonderful a Cableway to Springbrook would be.

The State Government has said no funding any further studies for a cableway. Unless there is a developer with very deep pockets you, the rate payer, who will be forking out millions of dollars for them.

But it isn’t all smooth sailing for the mayor. Fortunately we have some councillors who pay attention to what is going on.

Fortunately, the media, biased as the Murdoch stable is, have been giving the story some space

The petition is currently broken. We are working on it.

Proponents of $100m cableway project for Gold Coast Hinterland say they’ll bid (sic) their time

Gold Coast Bulletin

Environment Minister Steven Miles has brushed off a push for the Gold Coast Skyride, saying the idea was “inappropriate” and would likely be dismissed.

Mr Stevens has lashed out in response, saying the project had become a political issue which would never be fairly assessed on its merits.

“My advice to the consortium would be not to submit an official application for the cableway because the green-controlled Labor Government will not review it fairly,” he said.

“When we proposed something similar they knocked it back for ridiculous reason like it being a bushfire risk, or that we simply couldn’t build it on the slopes of the mountain.

“It defies logic that they think we would operate the ride in a bushfire and let the passengers barbecue and they wouldn’t even let our engineers look at the land to assess how to do it.

“This project would create 1200 jobs during construction and around 580 to the area after and they won’t even assess it, based on its merits.”

On the Coast to promote visitation to National Parks, Mr Miles didn’t sound impressed with the Skyride idea.

 “There isn’t a proposal at the moment for a cableway or anything like that,” he said.
 “Our view would probably be that that’s inappropriate but it would be up to proponents to come forward and we’d assess it.”

“We’ve revisited the framework by which we assess eco-tourism proposals and we really do want to see new facilities in our national parks, more reasons for people to visit because we want people to have those experiences.

“But they have to be sensitive and appropriate to the location and to the conservation values of the location.”

The Labor Government has introduced a Bill to Parliament aimed at repealing amendments to the Nature Conservation Act made by the LNP and voted for by Mr Stevens.

The LNP changed the object of the Act from focusing solely on conserving nature to allowing indigenous management of protected areas in which they have an interest; the use of protected areas by the community; and the social, cultural and commercial use of protected areas in a way consistent with the natural and cultural and other values of the areas.

 

We can't rest yet

Good News! Cableway project to be buried if Labor forms government

Controversial Hinterland cableway project to be buried if Labor forms government

The proposed Gold Coast Skyride cableway, like this one in Cairns, will be buried if Labo

The proposed Gold Coast Skyride cableway, like this one in Cairns, will be buried if Labor manages to form government.

THE controversial $100 million cableway project will be buried if Labor manages to form government.

Gold Coast Skyride chairman Terry Jackman said the Springbrook project was dead without government support.

Labor MPs were virulently opposed to the cableway project and the LNP government failed to approve it before the election.

“I always believed the cableway would be a terrific addition to Gold Coast tourism — but it does require government approval,” Mr Jackman said.

“Principally, State Government approval.

“It is quite simple, if the government doesn’t want it we will not proceed but we need to wait to see who forms government.”

Gold Coast Skyride chairman Terry Jackman admits the Springbrook project is dead without

Gold Coast Skyride chairman Terry Jackman admits the Springbrook project is dead without government support.

Area councillor Glenn Tozer said Gold Coast Skyride was one of several high-profile projects unlikely to go ahead if Labor formed government.

“If the government does change, then it definitely could be in doubt along with other projects across the Coast,” he said.

“We will have to work out what the city priorities are in the context of the new government and what the likelihood is of seeing them funded.”

The ALP were strong critics of the cableway project when Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens revealed plans to State parliament in October.

In 2007, the Labor Government spent $40 million buying 705ha on Springbrook Mountain to protect the area from development.

The weekend’s massive election swing has also put a cloud over the State Government’s sale of Springbrook Manor which sits on 10ha of prime mountain real estate.

Harcourts sales agent Julie Andrews, who secured two tenders for the property, said she was devastated about results from the election.

“We have to wait and see what happens because a Labor government could potentially cancel the sale, even though we have buyers lined up,” she said.

Springbrook Manor was a significant tourism boon for the mountain until it went bust early last year.

Mr Jackman said stakeholders needed to build more tourism infrastructure to compete with markets in Singapore and Dubai, “because you can’t just sit on your hands and say we have good weather and good beach”.

“Places like Singapore and Dubai are doing some incredible things and we need to be ready to compete with them.

“The Skyride board will meet soon and we will make a decision on whether to progress after we know who is in power. It has been a very interesting six months.”

http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/queensland-state-election-2015/controversial-hinterland-cableway-project-to-be-buried-if-labor-forms-government/story-fnr8vz6s-1227205536667

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