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State of Range Road causes trouble for development

The current state of the Mareeba to Cairns road is jeopardising development.

THE future of the proposed $650 million Kuranda development KUR-World Eco-Resort could be in the balance after the Palaszczuk Government and the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) noted their concerns over the safety, environmental and community impacts of the project.

In particular, the State Government’s and TMR’s greatest concern relates to traffic congestion, with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) stating that at the completion of the development, there will be an additional 1,338 passenger movements on the Kennedy Highway between Cairns and the KURWorld site.

In a media release courtesy of KUR-World last week, the Project Team behind the development of the eco-resort said they are seeking an urgent meeting with local MPs and business leaders to urge them to put pressure on the State Government to act over the state of the Kuranda Range Road.

A recent meeting between the KUR-World team and the Department of Transport and Main Roads saw TMR advise the Proponent that it was not able to support even a scaledback version of the development, with the state of the Range Road the main stumbling block.

“The Queensland Government had approval to duplicate the Kuranda Range Road twenty years ago, yet they have let it sit without any improvement all this time,” KUR-World Project Manager Mark Lawson said.

“The fact is regardless of whether or not KUR-World goes ahead in any capacity, the Kuranda Range Road and access to the Tablelands region is a mess and the State Government has sat on its hands and let it get to this point.

“Cairns and Tropical North Queensland as a tourist destination is already suffering. What TMR and the State Government is saying is basically that no development of any kind, particularly one that relies on any kind of road network infrastructure, can be supported by this Government because they will not do the work that needs to be done.”

Mr Lawson said Kuranda, the Tablelands and Tropical North Queensland was desperate for the kind of economic boost that a development such as KUR-World would bring.

“The Proponent has already invested a significant sum, not only in improvements to the site but also into the Environmental Impact Statement Process to only be told at this late stage that the State Government will not support the project due to the state of the road.

“FNQ needs an economic stimulus in the tourism space, and the goal posts appear to have been shifted. We may as well put a sign at the bottom of the range saying, ‘Closed for Business’, because that is what TMR and the State Government are telling us.”

Mr Lawson said it was time business and community leaders as well as local MPs stood up for the region by insisting that now is the time for the State Government to not only look at options to duplicate the Range Road, but to act.

“This is not really about KUR-World at all. The Tablelands region is an important part of the Tropical North Queensland economy. A large percentage of the region’s exports are grown and produced on the Tablelands.

“We’ve heard Nick Trompf from Advance Cairns and Cairns Airport CEO Norris Carter talk about the importance of the region as an export hub, and just back in March the Cairns Airport was said to be in the running for a $10 million agricultural distribution centre.

“It’s not only the people living on the Tablelands and tourists who require an upgrade to the range, but our local industry as well. Is the State Government also writing off our local producers like they seem to be willing to do to locals and tourism?”

Mr Lawson said TMR had advised the Project Team that the road was already close to capacity and listed as one of the 15 most dangerous roads in the State, but that it was considered too expensive to upgrade and there was no plan in place for TMR to undertake the work.

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