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Zipline not a done deal, says Opposition

Posted on 14 December 2018

Brendan O'Malley, Westside News, 13 December 2018

THE controversial Mt Coot-tha zipline project can still be shot down by the State Government, a Labor councillor says.

Greens MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman, also was hopeful the Government would block the project despite a green light to move to the next stage of the approval process.

The State Assessment Referral Agency last week decided that a six-abreast “mega zip’’ experience and a single “treetop’’ experience could proceed.

An artist’s impression of a skywalk at the zipline project.

That was despite SARA earlier this year blasting Council for underestimating tree clearing, visual and other impacts.

SARA told Council it was now satisfied the zipline project would not require additional clearing of native vegetation for firebreaks and safety buffers, and bushfire risks would be managed appropriately.

“The department is satisfied that the construction of the zipline takeoff and lookout platform adjacent to the Summit Lookout will not worsen impacts on views currently available from the Summit Lookout,” SARA’s decision read.

“The development has minimised impacts on the cultural heritage significance of the Mt Coot-tha Forest Reserve.

“Conditions have been imposed to limit the extent of clearing of native vegetation necessary for the construction and operation of the development.”

Opposition Council environment spokesman, Cr Steve Griffiths, said despite that the project was “not a done deal as the Lord Mayor is portraying it’’.

“The Lord Mayor is actually misleading people. We’re still going through the development application process and the State Government still has not made its assessment.’’

Tourism Minister Kate Jones, speaking at a press conference this morning alongside Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, also emphasised that Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham still had to make a ruling.

Mr Lynham said in Parliament last October that the zipline was an “inconsistent use’’ of the two parcels of state-owned land it traversed, which are managed on its behalf by Council “for a public park and for no other purpose whatsoever’’. He later forced Council to conduct a second round of public consultations, which close on December 31, and will then make a decision on whether the zipline is an “allowable’’ inconsistent use. Public consultation on the council’s development application, which has been conducted simultaneously with the State Government land use consultation, closes tomorrow.

 

Despite Council saying that there were only about 200 submissions on the development application, as of Wednesday, by that afternoon Mr Berkman’s office was aware of at least 1000 submissions. Both Mr Berkman and Cr Griffiths urged the public to make separate submissions on the state-owned land before December 31.

 

Cr Quirk, when asked if the thousands of petition signatures and public submissions opposing the zipline showed there was widespread community concern, said it did not matter how many submissions were made. “When submissions are assessed, we look at what are the concerns raised in those submissions, against the detail and the facts around the application,” he said. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there at the moment and I would just say to those who are spreading that … that is incorrect information.” Cr Quirk did not specify what the incorrect information was, other than to deny Council wanted to clear 28ha. He did not answer questions about exactly how many trees would be cleared, however, confirming only 200 large trees would go.

The Council’s development application, which will be assessed by itself, does not say how many smaller trees, shrubs or undergrowth would have to go.

It convinced SARA that it could manage fires through controlled burning, not clearing, which it said would limit the amount of clearing.

Cr Quirk also refused to say if proponent Zipline Australia had the necessary savings, or locked-in investors, to pay for the multi million-dollar project.

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Opinion: Margaret Wenham v Des Houghton over Mt Coot-tha Zipline (excerpt)

December 12, 2018The Courier Mail

Echidna on the Honeyeater Track Mt Coot-tha Forest.

Photo: Margaret Wenham

Bronte & Cate Campbell use bushwalking (in Mt Coot-tha Forest) as an escape from the pressures of training and competing. Photo: Adam Head

Margaret Wenham (excerpt)

 

Our beautiful Mt Coot-tha provides we lucky people of Brisbane with another immensely pleasurable activity, bush walking, and there is now a wonderful network of well-maintained tracks through the forest for walkers of just about every capability. (And for the mountain biking types, there’s about a half a dozen trails on which your mettle can be tested.) There’s also plenty of picnic areas.

You know, sometimes, when you’re alone on the mountain’s tracks, the silence of the forest wraps itself around you like comforting rug. Other times, the bush rings to the warbles of magpies calling to each other across the gullies, or the cockatoos making a ruckus as they shout at each other while swooping and wheeling between the trees. The bright red of king parrots flashes through branches.

Echidna going into hiding in the Mt Coot-tha forest park – on the Honeyeater Track Photo:

Margaret WenhamOn the Mt Coot-tha trail –

 

 

Bronte and Cate Campbell often use bush walking as an escape from the pressures of training and competing. Photo: Adam Head

 

Still other times the tracks are alive with the talk and laughter of other walkers of which there are plenty at certain times of the day.

I’ve spotted wallabies, goannas and echidnas, and I’ve had to stop and wait a few times while a thick patterned python, in no hurry, slides noiselessly across my favourite Honeyeater trail.

The forest dresses itself differently, depending on the time of day. On the southwestern side in the morning, it’s attired for business as the bright morning sun cuts through the foliage and dazzlingly lights your way. In the late afternoon, a setting sun bathes the trees and paths in a soft, golden dapple and the bush and its creatures prepare for the night. After rain, it’s cool, casual and relaxed.

I’m not sure who came up with the idea for these all-zooming, all-adrenaline pumping ziplines which will result in an estimated 28ha of bush being affected, but the Lord Mayor sure seems mighty keen on it.

Des Houghton (excerpt)

The Greens and the Snivelling Left oppose the development on dubious grounds. The proponents plan a low-impact, environmentally sensitive attraction of two zipline routes where tourists fly across the trees before setting down at either the Brisbane Botanic Gardens or close to the beautiful JC Slaughter Falls.

Treetop platform, part of the detailed designs for the Mt Coot-tha Zipline.

It’s the type of eco-tourism project that most cities of the world would crave. And it is the kind of development where tourists will be able to experience the flora, fauna and indigenous culture heritage of Brisbane close up. Thrill seekers would set off from a treetop platform in groups of eight to 12.

What fun.

Council allows only 15 days for zipline consultation

Brendan O’Malley, Westside News
Monday November 26, 2018 10.40 am
Subscriber only

Residents have just 15 business days, from today, to have their say on the most far-reaching development ever proposed for Mt Coot-tha, a controversial pair of ziplines and massive suspension bridge.

They said it was appalling Council would limit public input so dramatically on a project that would dramatically change the appearance of the mountain and affect the nearby botanic gardens.Council is also simultaneously holding public consultation on the impact of the project on two DOGITs — Deeds of Grant In Trust State Greens — state land held in trust and managed by Council.

MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman is now lobbying Council to extend the notification period for the zipline and also the consultation on Council’s Land Management Plan for the DOGITs. Mr Berkman wrote to Council on Friday asking that the consultation be 40 days, taking close of submissions past Christmas.

 

Opponent Bron Raftery said it was outrageous to ask for feedback on such a major project just before Christmas, when school was about to break up and most people were busy planning for the holiday period and getting through work before the annual break.

“We’re also very concerned only one of the four sessions on the LMP is in the westside,’’ Ms Raftery said.
“The rest are in the CBD, where parking is expensive and it’s hard to get to. “The State Government has previously asked Council to conduct the LMP consultation first, before Council submitted its development application, but Council has just pushed ahead with doing them at the same time.’’

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The only westside LMP session, at J.C. slaughter Falls, is on a Tuesday from 8-10am, when most people are commuting to work or dropping children at school. But on weekends, J.C. Slaughter Falls picnic area is packed with many hundreds of people who would be directly affected.

Signs about the zipline notification started to go up across the western suburbs on Friday. Council has been contacted for comment. Ms Raftery said it was unreasonable to expect most people to go through the large amount of documentation on Council’s development application portal, pdonline. It had a responsibility to provide people with an easily comprehensible, shorter version of what it was proposing so they could make an informed decision on whether they wanted the ziplines to go ahead.

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Council had mailed out many thousands of flyers to residents in recent months but had failed to mention the zipline project in detail on any of those and ask residents their opinion of it, she said.

Submissions can be made on Council’s development application portal. Search for pdonline and application number A005011420.

The public information sessions for the LMP will be held at:

— Queen St Mall, George St end, November 28, 2-4pm;

— J.C Slaughter Falls picnic area, Mt Coot-tha, December 4, 8-10am;

— South Bank Piazza, December 8, 12-2pm

— Queen St Mall, George St end, December 12, 12-2pm

ABC Radio Focus Nov 16, 2018
with Emma Griffiths

A Zipline Panel with Cr McLachlan, Chair of the Environment, Parks & Sustainability Committee; Cr Griffiths, Shadow Chair; Catherine Liddell, Qld Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Clevo Wilson, Tourism & Economics lecturer at QUT plus on the council Infrastructure Committee; Michael Berkman, Greens MP for Maiwar; Matt Wright, Powerful Owl expert & wildlife photographer; Anne Boccabella, The Wilderness Society & Bron Raftery, Mt Coot-tha Protection Alliance Inc.  Audio 1 hr

 ZIPLINE COPS GOVERNMENT BLAST
 

Brendan O’Malley, Westside News

24 October, 2018 Subscriber only

THE environmental and visual impacts of Council’s controversial Mt Coot-tha zipline project have been underestimated and it should “go back to the drawing board’’, a letter from the State Government suggests. Greens Councillor Jonathan Sri is expected to move an urgency motion in Council chambers this evening about the explosive letter, from the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA) to Council. The letter, dated October 17, was published on the Council development application online portal on Monday. State Greens MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman, who has been fighting the plan for a megazip and treetop zip tourist experience, said the concerns of residents had been vindicated in what he called a “savage take-down by experts in the State Government’’.

 

“The State Government agency (SARA) points out that the LNP Council’s documents are riddled with errors,’’ Mr Berkman said. “These serious issues cannot be solved by tweaking the proposal. It’s a dud. “The LNP Council has drastically underestimated the impacts of the zipline in almost every imaginable way. “They’ve lowballed everything — from tree clearing to light pollution, traffic, public transport and impacts on the historic Mt Coot-tha viewing platform. “The Greens oppose this project and I’ve been supporting locals pointing out these obvious errors for a year.’’

Cr Sri said the development application for the project, which has been referred by Council to itself for assessment, needed to be carefully scrutinised by a full meeting of all councillors rather than delegated to “unelected development assessors”. “It seems like most LNP councillors don’t even understand how significant the negative environmental impacts of this project would be, but they need to take responsibility as elected decision-makers,” he said.

SARA’s letter raised numerous concerns, including that Council’s DA had listed only the number trees which needed to be cleared which were greater than 150mm in diameter. It said all tree removal needed to be stated, including clearing needed for firebreaks and maintenance.

 

“As Mt Coot-tha forest is listed for its views to and from the place, the Department of Environment and Science will not endorse vegetation clearing that results in visible scars on the landscape,’’ the letter read. “Lighting has the potential to affect the aesthetic significance of Mount Coot-tha as a prominent scenic landmark and therefore lighting must be considered as part of the overall assessment of impacts. The historic views from the Lookout of a green landscape with an expansive city form in the distance must be retained and should not be compromised through partial clearing and the introduction of new large built form directly in the view line. The Department of Environment and Science is not supportive of the apparent disruption to the views from the Mount Coot-tha Lookout and Kiosk and recommends the applicant review lowering the lookout platform to reduce the overall height of the structure.

“The provision of a new viewing platform as part of the takeoff platform is not considered an offset for impacts to the historic vantage point from the Mt Coot-tha Lookout and Kiosk.

 

“It is recommended that you address these concerns promptly, noting that the department considers your development application does not currently satisfy certain applicable outcomes and performance outcomes identified in the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP).’’

If you subscribe to The Courier-Mail, please comment on the news story online.

 

You can view the letter here: https://pdonline.brisbane.qld.gov.au/…/viewdocumentftp.aspx…

 

COURIERMAIL.COM.AU

ABC Radio Drive Oct 24, 2018
with Steve Austin

Dr Peter Hale is interviewed about the State Govt Dept of Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning letter to Brisbane City Council telling council their Development Application does not currently satisfy planning regulations. Brisbane City Council representatives declined to be interviewed and sent a statement similar to the advertising statements they have produced since the announcement of this proposed development. Listen from 1.00.47 to 1.07.35

Mt Coot-tha from Toowong Image: Ross Hanson

The Mt Coot-tha zipline project...just what is Brisbane Council hiding?

Independent Australia article by Mark Hipgrave October 10, 2018

A proposed zipline project at Mt Coot-tha, which promises to have community and economic benefits, isn't all it seems, writes Mark Hipgrave.

4BC Radio Mark Braybrook

October 10, 2018

An online petition opposing the Brisbane City Council’s plan for a zipline on Mt Coot-tha has attracted almost 4,000 signatures.

A the council has now lodged a development application and is about to hold information sessions about what is being proposed.

Environmental Scientist and zipline opponent Alan Lee tells Mark he believes it is a conflict of interest for the council to assess its own DA.

Podcast

August 2018 community protest

Parliamentary petition against zipline proposal to close next week (excerpt)

Jasmin Lill, Quest Newspapers Oct 22, 2018 Subscriber only

 https://www.couriermail.com.au/questnews/southwest/parliamentary-petition-against-zipline-proposal-to-close-next-week/news-story/db97932fcd3d7e575b11a77baabd712a

NEARLY 4000 people have signed a petition opposing plans to build a zipline at Mt Coot-tha as Brisbane City Council prepares to stage information sessions on the plans. Auchenflower resident Peter Hale started a parliamentary petition in June and has garnered 3872 signatures ahead of its closing date on October 15. Council has also scheduled information sessions tomorrow to outline the controversial plan.

 

The petition to protect Mt Coot-tha Trust Lands from development says the community does not support any part of the proposed zipline complex.

It asks that Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Dr Anthony Lynham not approve any application for an additional purpose to allow any part of the proposed zipline complex to proceed.

Dr Hale, who is also president of the Mt Coot-tha Protection Alliance, said the response to the petition signalled that people are very concerned by council’s proposed ziplines development. “People want Mt Coot-tha to stay as it is – a place where people can escape and enjoy nature for free. There are few places in the world that have such wonderful bushland so close to a big city,” he said. “Why should a private developer be allowed to profit from the park and destroy the natural environment that makes Mt Coot-tha so special? The ziplines development will restrict public access to areas of the forest and ruin the tranquillity of walking trails, picnic spots and the Botanic Garden. Despite the council promoting the ziplines as a ‘done deal’, people are now realising what they stand to lose if this goes ahead. Mt Coot-tha has been a public park held in Trust for nearly 150 years and people want it kept intact for passive recreational use in a peaceful natural environment.”

 

Dr Hale said his group wanted to know if the information session is part of a formal consultation process “or just a PR exercise”.

“If the kiosk is being held for consultation purposes, then council needs to be willing to answer some important questions about the true scope of this project’s planned infrastructure and how it plans to deal with important fauna such as the significant koala population in the park,” he said.

Image: Australia Koala Foundation

Heat-seeking drones find Brisbane's hiding koalas

By Tony Moore 3 October 2018 — 10:12pm

Researchers have used drones equipped with koala-seeking heat sensors to map the marsupials' population in Brisbane from 60 metres above the tree canopy.

The joint Queensland University of Technology-Brisbane City Council pilot study was in addition to a project in which koala-sniffing dogs and human field workers walked through bushland to identify where Brisbane's koalas could be found.

 

Brisbane Times Article Oct 3, 2018

Free Shuttle Bus Pledge

Westside News Sept 20, 2018 Brendan O'Malley editor

Removal of 14 Summit car spaces. BCC is partnering with Zipline Australia to provide a shuttle bus service . Notifications for the Development Application will possibly be in November or December this year. Opposition Parks spokesperson Cr Steve Griffiths moved an Urgency Motion 2 weeks ago asking for the DA to be independently accessed. He stated no council DA had ever been refused. A protest rally is being held at JC Slaughter Falls on Sunday 23 Sept from 2 - 3 pm.

The Summit carparks face cut

Westside News Sept 12, 2018

Parking at The Summit Lookout on Mt Coot-tha will become harder than ever with almost 12 percent of spaces to be removed as part of Council's controversial zip line project. The DA Applicant Assessment Report P revealed that, apart from disabled parking, there was only room for buses and passenger drop-off zone for motorists immediately adjacent to the restaurant and viewing area. This was despite the council's tender documents stating that provision of parking must be a hight priority. Extract of feature article.

ABC Sept 6, 2018

Powerful Owl habit forces Stage 1 Tree Canopy Zipline realignment and almost 2 hectares of trees cleared for the 16,000 hectare development.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-05/powerful-owl-attack-risk-prompts-shift-mt-coot-tha-zipline/10201150

The equivalent of 2 football fields of trees cleared or trimmed on Mt Coot-tha. Cr David McLachlan previously stated on more than one occasion in the media that the proposed development would have "...little impact on vegetation."

Westside News Brendan O'Malley Editor Sept 5, 2018

Council spends big on idea

Westside News Sept 12, 2018

The ziplines are estimated to cost $18 million, several million more than previous estimates, the DA reveals. Operational costs were estimated at $2.9 million next year, rising to $9.5 million by 2031. The council's total spend $1.8 million. Extract of feature article.

4BC Radio Drive Sept 6, 2018
with Mark Braybrook

Concerns are growing over the proposal to develop a zipline ride on Mt Coot-tha. The DA for the proposal was lodged on Monday requiring the removal of 206 large native trees despite the council originally saying there would be zero clearing.

One critic of the plan Dr Peter Hale from the Mt Cootha Protection Alliance tells Mark the zipline would have a huge impact on the local environment.

https://www.4bc.com.au/podcast/concerns-over-mt-coot-tha-zipline-impact/

ABC Radio Drive Sept 5, 2018
with Kelly Higgins-Devine

The Mt Coot-tha Summit restaurant owner finds out about the removal of carparks by an ABC Radio reporter. Brisbane City Council contacted the owner after the segment aired on Wednesday afternoon.

Clearly visible structure 17.5m high towering over the Australian Plant Communities and the Melaleuca Lake of the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. Renamed Scenic Zipline (Megazip) patrons completing their thrill ride and then being bused around the peaceful Botanic Gardens to exit the area.

Privatization of a public asset. Brisbane residents have been kept in the dark regarding details of the proposed zipline development covering 16 hectares of natural bushland of Mt Coot-tha Forest.

 

An area the size of Roma Street Parklands to be developed for a commercial adventure tourism theme park with council contributing at least $1.8 million of ratepayers' money.

JC Slaughter Falls walking trails, Litchfield Track, the Summit Track, Frogmouth Trail and the Lookout Trails may all be impacted by the proposed zipline development. Removal of 200 trees in Brisbane City Council's Development Application despite assurances since January 2018 minimal vegetation to be cleared. 

 

The area of clearing or trimming now quoted as two hectares, so imagine the number of trees that would cover two football stadiums. The State Assessment & Referral Agency recommended 28 hectares would need to be cleared in this high fire hazard area for this size development. That's 56 football fields ( 28 football stadiums).

February rainfall in Mt Coot-tha 2018 Images: Mike Robertson

Waikato Stadium – Hamilton, New Zealand - An international rugby field almost 1 hectare in size.

Current city view from the Summit Mt Coot-tha, July 2018

Photo: Mike Robertson 

Imagine the view minus the trees and a clearly visible structure generating noise from machinery and patrons yelling as they fly down at 60 kph into the tranquil Botanic Gardens.

New proposed view from the Summit Mt Coot-tha 2019. Launching and viewing infrastructure soaring 3 m above canopy level

PLUS 100 m CLEARING AROUND STRUCTURES FOR SAFETY BUFFER IN A HIGH FIRE HAZARD ZONE 

(Neighbourhood Plan Mt Coot-tha 7.2.13.9 - SC6.4 Bushfire planning scheme policy)

Mt Coot-tha Protection Alliance Inc