by Peter Gardiner
PROTECT Elanda action group members cheered as Noosa councillors came on board as one to oppose an Eco Camp application to downgrade a fish habitat.
Councillors at Monday's committee meeting spoke of their concerns about a proposal to enable Discovery Group tours to operate from a commercial jetty at Elanda Point.
They have agreed with the council staff to make a submission to the Department of National Parks and voted to formalise this action last night.
Cr Brian Stockwell said the proposed infrastructure and commercial uses are inconsistent with the objectives and future management vision of the Great Sandy Management Plan.
"When I see such a large number of community groups who have rallied to oppose this development, my view is it's because over a long period of time we've felt a really strong sense of place about the unique character of the lake (Cootharaba) and its role in the great Sandy region,” he said.
Cr Stockwell said he goes to the lake several times a year for natural recreation and when he was a kilometre out from Boreen Point, was in his "happy place”.
"I'm experiencing a natural experience that you don't get (in) very many places in south east Queensland. I don't expect to have commercial boats crossing my path to get to a jetty about two and half kilometres north and to me the key question is about where does your wilderness experience start?” he said.
Mayor Tony Wellington said the council was being asked if it supported a request for a fish habitat downgrade and not to make a determination on the use of that area.
"However it is obvious that the proposed uses are pertinent to our decision,” he said.
Cr Wellington said a fish habitat reclassification has to satisfy a clear benefit to the community and have a "clear environmental benefit” to its surrounds.
Cr Wellington said the habitat downgrading would change the value of the area.
"It also then theoretically opens up the opportunity for similar requests to be made elsewhere within the river system,” he said
"It therefore sets a dangerous precedent particularly if it's done with council compliance.”
He said any intensification of the Everglades boat traffic in the upper Noosa River was "an ecological minus, not an ecological plus” due to the disturbance of the habitat and wildlife there.
Cr Ingrid Jackson asked if council had legally binding undertakings to ensure the promised benefits such as no commercial Discovery boats coming up from Noosaville "causing pollution” and boats and kayaks no longer being put into the water at Elanda Point.
She was told the council did not.