18 August, 2022
Locals launch petition over Kuranda land development
A PROPOSAL to develop a parcel of rainforest near Kuranda into five residential blocks has locals up in arms at the thought that thousands of trees and native wildlife will be sacrificed by “profiteering” developers.
The Warril Drive development proposal is currently being assessed by Mareeba Shire Council but because it is code assessable, locals are prevented from making a formal submission and no public consultation is required.
Council says because the development is a reconfiguration in a rural residential zone, it meets the requirements as code assessable.
Nearby residents Paul and Clare Woodington, who have started an e-petition which currently has around 500 signatures, are appalled at the proposal and have made their objections known to council but claim it has not responded to any of their communications.
The couple object to the project based on a number of factors, the most serious being the destruction of habitat which would be a major threat to the critically endangered Kuranda Tree Frog (Litoria Myola).
“Our spectacular 120 million-year-old heritage rainforest, considered the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest in the world, is home to many endangered and vulnerable creatures and plants, including the critically endangered Kuranda Tree Frog,” he said.
“The tree frog population here is so monumental that in mating season it is almost deafening. This would be a disaster for them and the other creatures that call our rainforest home.
“The land is host to over 10,000 frogs who live in the trees and breed in the dam. The killing of these frogs by decimating their natural habitat would be scandalous on a national scale.
“Access to the dam by the frogs, once splitting the land with a road, would further diminish their numbers, especially with roadkill.”
Mr Woodington also has major concerns about the danger of flooding and erosion, given the development site includes a 120-year-old dam.
He claims the developer’s proposal is based on dry season levels of water in the dam which he says rises by up to three metres in the wet season, putting one of the lots under water and affecting the plan to build a 7m wide access road to the blocks.
“The road over the dam needs 10m between the road and the water. Trees need to grow and flourish to maintain the bank. There is not 10m available, the plot is too small,” Mr Woodington said.
“The road over the dam will also destroy its historical significance – it is part of Kuranda’s heritage, built 120 years ago to water horses, some of which helped make the railway.”
But council has advised that if the subdivision application is approved, a condition will be included requiring sign off from a certified engineer confirming that access road works will not compromise the integrity of the dam wall.
“The details of the location of the access driveway, including any earthworks required will form part of a mandatory subsequent separate application to council for operational works,” a council spokesperson said.
Mr Woodington’s claims that the proposed road design is too steep.
“Access from Warril Drive is poor at best and this proposed access road is too steep. The intended use was for one house and a 40-metre frontage to Warril Drive. The whole frontage would need to be a wide T-junction for adequate road access,” Mr Woodington said.
But council says the driveway grades and safety in relation to access out onto Warril Drive will be addressed at the operational works application stage.
Another of the couple’s objections to the project is based on the claim that the land lots will not reach rural residential status because the available land for development is less than 4,000m2, considering the dam is not “land” and area is reduced further when Category R Regulated Vegetation Areas is removed.
Council rejects this viewpoint and maintains the blocks meet the rural residential requirements.
Mr Woodington is pleading with council not to approve the development.
“A conservation area for many years, this piece of paradise is too special to be strip mined,” he said.
“The land is undulating with two big gullies and the rainforest is dark and impenetrable – the tree cutting and earthworks needed to level it and provide sunlight would be monumental.
“The destruction of thousands of trees to accommodate the few houses proposed is inconsistent with wanting to live in a rainforest. “It is the regulators' role in this area to ensure this does not take place on behalf of its citizens. We want the local council to say no to the proposed development.”