March 14th 2019
MCPA President Dr Peter Hale interviewed by Steve Austin on Drive (Legal Appeal) - ABC Brisbane 612AM
February 16th 2019
MCPA President Dr Peter Hale interviewed by Alice Legget for Brisbane Line on Brisbane Line - 4ZZZ local radio 102.1FM
MCPA President Peter Hale interviewed by Farah Tawfeek for thewire (BCC council elections)
February 19th 2019
BCC Communications whistleblower and response from Cr Amanda Cooper interviewd by Steve Austin on Drive - ABC Brisbane 612AM
Zipline to be tied up ‘for years’ in legal action (except)
Brendan O’Malley, Westside News
February 4, 2019 6:00pm
The Mt Coot-tha zipline is likely to be locked in a battle for up to two years which could cost ratepayers $1 million or more, a Planning & Environment Court expert has warned. It is almost certain the MPA or one of the other 22 community groups and 3200 individuals who lodged formal objections will lodge an appeal by the closing date at the end of March.
The State Government also can still decide to block the project. Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham must rule on whether the proposal is inconsistent with the allowed uses of two State-owned blocks of land leased to Council.
Since 1880, when the Government’s Lands Department declared that the mountain, formerly known as One Tree Hill, would be a “Public Park for the recreation, convenience, health and amusement of the inhabitants of the City of Brisbane ... and for no other purpose whatsoever”, many quixotic schemes have been imposed on the area. They included a dance hall, a zoo, an artificial snow ski slope, a wedding reception complex and a model railway.
“A case as complex as this takes a minimum of six months to be heard,’’ the expert, who has appeared in P & E court matters for two decades, said. “One or two years is more likely.’’
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk talked up the project on ABC Radio on Monday while brushing off suggestions the second consultation phase he was ordered to undertake by the State Government was a sham. He said it was to be expected that most people who lodged submissions on any proposal would be those opposed and did not accept that 3200 such submissions indicated widespread public concern, instead telling a media conference late last year that there was a silent majority in favour.
He did not indicate how he was aware of that. He also suggested many submissions contained inaccuracies, without specify what some of those inaccuracies were, and said opponents had exaggerated the extent of tree clearing and other problems which was why there were so many submissions.
About 200 large trees will be cleared, but Council’s DA does not say how many small trees, shrubs or undergrowth.
It does, however, confirm all undergrowth up to 2m high will be cleared along the 1.5km length of the six-abreast “megazip’’ and along the length of the shorter “treetop’’ zipline, which ecologists claim will create an “eco desert’’ and facilitate incursion by pests and feral animals. Opponents say the area of cleared undergrowth equates to about 40 football fields in area.
Cr Quirk promised the ziplines, which he said would not create a visual scar on the mountain, would attract about 350,000 visitors every year and create 100 new jobs. “It has been conservatively estimated around 11,000 to 15,000 people will spend an additional hour in the Mt Coot-tha area with the increased amenity associated with the zipline,” he said.
However, Mt Coot-tha Protection Alliance president Dr Peter Hale, a wildlife ecologist, said his group met on Monday to discuss whether it would launch legal action. He expected the other 22 community groups opposed to the project would also discuss whether they would join an appeal.
Council can now appeal the approval of its own development application by its assessment manager.
If that does not happen, anyone who submitted a “properly made’’ submission to the DA has 20 business days to lodge an appeal in the Planning & Environment Court. Because many technical experts would have to be called for such a complex case, it would take many months to be heard. The legal expert who spoke to Westside News, on condition of anonymity, estimated such a case would set back ratepayers about $1 million, possibly more. The true figure would never be known because Council did not identify the cost of any one legal case in its Budgets.
Labor parks and environment spokesman, Councillor Steve Griffiths, said it was misleading of Cr Quirk to give the impression the zipline project was now a “done deal’’.
State Greens MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman, said it was now up to the State Government to refuse permission for the project.
“Mt Coot-tha is a publicly owned bushland reserve that was given to Council for exclusive use as a public park,” Mr Berkman said.
“This project can’t go ahead without State Government approval, and I am calling on Labor’s Minister for Natural Resources, Anthony Lynham, to listen to the strong public opposition and keep Mt Coot-tha in public hands.
Greens Councillor Jonathan Sri (The Gabba) said residents were overwhelmingly opposed to the project and BCC should have listened to the people. “This is not environmentally responsible ecotourism – this project involves the degradation and privatisation of ecologically sensitive publicly owned bushland,” he said. “Now that the LNP have again failed to listen to residents, we are calling on the State Labor government not to approve this project. The council can’t proceed with it unless Labor supports it.”
A Council spokeswoman said the DA was approved on Friday.
Huge backlash to zipline project
Brendan O’Malley, Westside News
January 4, 2019
As many as 5000 people have lodged submissions on a controversial Mt Coot-tha zipline, and the overwhelming majority hate the idea.
Resident Phil Best said Brisbane City Council’s development application (DA) lodgement office confirmed more than 3600 submissions had been made by the December 13 deadline.
“They said approximately 10 per cent were in favour of the zipline and approximately 90 per cent were against.
“Even though the closure date has passed some people are still sending in submissions.
“These are counted, but are not legally admissible.’’
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Retired ecological consultant David Hassall, who spent years as an expert witness before the Planning and Environment Court, said his detailed analysis showed there could be as many as 5000 submissions, possibly even more.
“It is possible the 3600 figure is just those the DA lodgement office has had a chance to read so far,’’ Mr Hassall said.
“I have personally looked at 1779, which I estimate to be about 35 per cent of the total.
“Of those, 95-96 per cent are against and 4 per cent are in favour.
“About 90 per cent of those in favour have come via the (project proponent) Zipline Australia website.
“That is perfectly legitimate for them to ask people to make submissions in favour and most have a mobile phone number or address.’’
Council last year selected West End-based Zipline Australia as its preferred tenderer to build a six-abreast fast “mega zip’’ from near the mountain summit to the Australian Native Plant Zone within Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.
It will also build a slower treetop canopy tour ending at J.C. Slaughter Falls and a 300m-long suspension bridge.
Council says the project will inject up to $4 million a year into the Brisbane economy, despite suggestions tickets could cost up to $100 a head, and would involve clearing of only 200 large trees with 1600 more replanted.
Opponents claim the tourism impact is overstated, rare plants in the gardens will be destroyed, an ecological desert 60-80m wide will be created along the zipline routes because all vegetation up to 2m would be cleared, and wildlife including a pair of rare powerful owls will be disturbed by lights and noise.
Council has been contacted for comment.
Mr Hassall conceded that in cases such as this it was usually only those people strongly against something who made submissions.
But he said it was misleading of Lord Mayor to have claimed last December that there was a “silent majority’’ in favour.
“There could be a silent majority against it. The only way to test that would be to ask people walking down the Queen St Mall, for instance,’’ he said.
The deadline for submissions was not extended despite Council’s DA online portal, pdonline, melting down in the final few days because of the vast number of people using it.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk says the number of submissions made against the zipline does not matter, just their substance.
Cr Quirk was also criticised for conducting consultation in the final weeks of the school year and as residents were preparing to go on summer holidays.
Cr Quirk told media outlets at the time that the number of submissions was irrelevant and that it was the substance of the submissions that counted.
Mr Best claimed the number would have been even higher had Council held its public consultation at a less busy time of year when people were not distracted by school breakups and looming holidays.
Phil Best says Council might need to put on more resources to analyse submissions on the Mt Coot-tha zipline.
Public drop-in information sessions were also held at inconvenient times, including one at J.C. Slaughter Falls picnic area at 8-10am on a Tuesday.
“We believe that the DA lodgement and Land Management Plan expiry dates were deliberately chosen to coincide with the Christmas Rush and holiday period,’’ Mr Best said.
“We are also concerned that (the DA lodgement office) will need to use additional BCC employees to read all the submissions.’’
Opposition says Mt Coot-tha zipline project still needs state government nod
2 February 2019 — 11:11am
The opposition council has criticised Brisbane City Council for jumping the gun in claiming victory after the development application for the controversial Mt Coot-tha zipline project was approved.
The project was expected to open by the end of this year but the opposition council said the application approval was not the final hurdle, as approval by the state government was still needed.
The three-stage zipline would include a 1.5-kilometre treetop canopy tour, a skywalk with a 335-metre suspension bridge and the scenic zipline tour with six lines travelling more than a kilometre from the summit’s lookout to the Botanic Gardens.
The zipline also includes a skywalk and cultural information.
More than 3600 submissions were sent to council during the assessment process, with about 90 per cent believed to have objections to project.
While council claims it is an “ecotourism” experience, many submissions believe it would cause “ecological degradation”.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the project would bring tourism and economic benefits, with about 350,000 visitors a year and more than 100 new jobs.
Council had estimated thatr about 11,000 to 15,000 people would spend an additional hour in the Mt Coot-tha precinct with the increased number of amenities associated with the zipline.
“By improving this two-hectare area of Mt Coot-tha, we’ll protect what we love about all 1600 hectares of this Brisbane icon while creating more to see and do," Cr Quirk said.
“We’re protecting Mt Coot-tha for future generations by planting more than 1700 new trees and carefully planning to protect owl and koala populations."
Cr Quirk said a new visitor centre would also make Mt Coot-tha more accessible.
Cr Quirk said he was pleased the state government also reconfirmed there was no need to clear 28 hectares of land as had been falsely claimed by some key groups during the assessment process.
Councillor Steve Griffiths said the attitude of the mayor showed the "height of arrogance" towards the development's green light to move forward.
"It's council approving council applications," he said.
"This is not the final key to the process, the state needs to make the decision.
"It has yet to go through state interest in terms of what they call DOGIT [for Deed of Grant in Trust, a system of community-level land trust established in Queensland to administer former reserves and missions] ... the land specifically should not to be used for commercial purposes."
Mr Griffiths said he agreed with parts of the project, including the Indigenous trail and tree top walk; however, his concerns outweighed the benefits.
"There’s been a massive amount of feedback against the zipline," he said.
"About 90 per cent opposed it and this just goes to show that council is not listening yet again.
"We remain very concerned about the size and impact of the project, in particular to the powerful owls and also the loss of vegetation because we are talking about six ziplines, not one.
"But of course there are parts of project we agree with but as I've said before, we support the idea but this is not the right location."
Brisbane City Council allocated $717,000 in this year’s budget for the zipline and a further $423,000 in the forward estimates for 2019-20.
Brisbane City Council slammed over Mt Coot-tha zipline approval
Jack McKay, The Courier-Mail
February 2, 2019 12:00am
OPPOSITION groups have slammed Brisbane City Council’s decision to approve the Mt Coot-tha zipline, insisting the State Government still has the power to scrap the project.
The Courier-Mail revealed overnight that the council’s planning team had given the tourist venture the final go ahead, despite the project attracting thousands of submissions in opposition.
Of the more than 3,600 submissions made to the council in relation to the project, nearly 90 per cent opposed it — dwarfing the 400 residents who supported it.
Labor’s environment spokesman Cr Steve Griffiths today said the LNP administration has misled the community by claiming that the project will proceed.
He said Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham could still block the project because the land at Mt Coot-tha was held in trust.
“When it was donated to the State Government, it was put aside for conservation purposes, recreational and not for profit use,” he said.
“We believe they are grounds for the project to be scrapped and we’re waiting on the State Government to make that decision.
“The Lord Mayor is really misleading people by saying it’s got approval. It’s only been approved at a council level.”
Construction is expected to start within months. Greens Councillor Jonathan Sri has also called on the State Government to step in to stop the zipline, accusing the LNP of failing to listen to residents. “This is not environmentally responsible ecotourism,” he said. “This project involves the degradation and privatisation of ecologically sensitive publicly owned bushland.”
A community rally opposing the zipline is expected to be held on Tuesday. The project was approved by the planning unit yesterday. It was first lodged by the council last September. The potential impact on animals and vegetation through the construction and operation of the zipline was among the key issues raised by residents during the assessment process. Concerns were also raised about heritage impacts, but the LNP administration claims all problems raised about the project were addressed in the planning team’s decision notice.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk talked up the project yesterday, saying it would attract about 350,000 visitors every year and generate more than 100 new jobs.
“It has been conservatively estimated around 11,000 to 15,000 people will spend an additional hour in the Mt Coot-tha precinct with the increased amenity associated with the zipline,” he said.
Construction will begin within months, with the 1.5km treetop canopy tour to open by the end of this year.
A skywalk, including a 335m suspension bridge and the fast-paced 1km zipline from Mt Coot-tha’s summit to the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, will open in 2020.
Cr Quirk said council’s assessment that the zipline infrastructure did not necessitate any significant clearing of native vegetation for firebreaks and safety buffers was backed by the Queensland Government’s State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA).
“We’re planting more than 1700 new trees and ensuring no corridor clearing, while carefully planning to protect owl and koala populations,” he said.
SARA also approved the project last December.
Labor councillors had previously criticised the project’s approval process, saying the council should not have been allowed to assess its own development application.
They wanted the zipline to be assessed independently, worried that there could be a perceived conflict of interest.
Claims zipline will create eco desert
Brendan O’Malley, Westside News
January 23, 2019
Clearing to protect the proposed Mt Coot-tha “mega zip’’ from bushfire will create an 80m-wide “eco desert’’ stretching more than 1km down the mountain, a former wildlife ecologist and a westside resident claim.
Westside’s Jon Percival said line drawings on Brisbane City Council’s development application (DA) showed a “vegetation management zone’’ 40m either side of the mega zip.
The drawings showed the zones 30m either side of a treetop zipline and suspension bridge. Council’s DA showed vegetation up to 2m above ground must cleared.
“That will create an eco desert at ground level,’’ Mr Percival said.
Wildlife ecologist Dr Peter Hale agreed, saying there was extensive research showing that removing undergrowth decimated native fauna.
These areas will be maintained as cleared of trees and become like the weed-infested cleared zones underneath power lines through our local national park,’’ Dr Hale said
“Compared to what is there now, which is mature old-growth forest that is essential wildlife habitat, it will be an ecological desert.’’
Mr Percival said the Council DA argued the bushfire hazard clearing did not have to be as wide as Schedule 24 of the Planning Regulation 2017 stated, because the two ziplines were not essential infrastructure.
“Extraordinarily, the DA says the Vegetation Management Plan is for compliance assessment only and will be superseded when revised or rewritten and approved by Council,’’ he said.
“In other words, the council is going to give itself the right to do whatever clearing it wants, after the development is approved.
“Why (else) are there Vegetation Maintenance Zone (VMZ) lines prescribing 80m-wide zones along the scenic (mega) zipline and 60m-wide zones along the treetop canopy tour zipline, suspension bridge and Indigenous Cultural Heritage Trail?
“The VMZ lines are set out on the survey plans/technical detail plans, but their purpose and function are never defined in any part of the DA documents.’’
A Council spokeswoman said claims that 28ha would need to be cleared were false, which had been confirmed by a State Assessmentand Referral Agency assessment of the project last December.
“The State Government response said the (Environment) Department was satisfied the development would not necessitate additional clearing of native vegetation for firebreaks and safety buffers,’’ she said.
“The State Government’s response also confirmed any risk to people from bushfire would be appropriately managed through incident response procedures.’’
About 3600 submissions have been lodged on the DA.
Many people raised concerns about safety for people cycling at Mt Coot-tha if Council's controversial mega-Zipline project goes ahead. In this interview on ABC Radio in December 2018, the Lord Mayor made a number of statements about how Council responds to public submissions that appear inconsistent with the experience of the Brisbane cycling community regarding this and many other cycling related projects according to Space4cyclingbne.
Queen’s Wharf zipline plan to be Brisbane’s Star attraction
Jeremy Pierce, The Courier-Mail
December 24, 2018 12:00am
A ZIPLINE could send thrillseekers soaring across the Brisbane River as part of an ambitious plan to deliver more world-class tourist attractions to the city.
As debate rages over a controversial zipline planned by Brisbane City Council for Mt Coot-tha, The Courier-Mail can reveal the Star Entertainment Group aspires to build a similar attraction from the $3 billion Queen’s Wharf development across the river to South Bank.
At Queen’s Wharf, passengers would soar across the river from 100 metres up, offering an exhilarating new way to experience one of Brisbane’s greatest assets.
However, Star boss Mr Bekier said unlike the Mt Coot-tha proposal, which has received hundreds of objections, the Brisbane River and Gold Coast ziplines would traverse urban environments.
“We don’t have to cut down trees or anything else,” he said.
“There would be no environmental impact.” (excerpt)
Ex-Gardens volunteer speaks out
Westside News December 20, 2018
THE Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens volunteer guides have been ordered not to discuss the zipline, even in their own tearoom. Former guide Vicky Henry said she decided to resign so she could speak up about her concerns. She said under their code of conduct they were not allowed to mention their views on the project to visitors, but most guides were strongly opposed to it.“When we had our dinner for the guides last month our president expressed our concerns to the Lord Mayor — the room exploded with applause,’’ Ms Henry said. “We are still not certain if they will have to broaden the paths to allow shuttle buses to use them. “But they will have to remove a lot of plantings in the Australian Native Plant Zone for the landing stage and bus turnaround. This is one of the premier botanic gardens in Australia and a lot of effort and expense has gone into making it look as good as it does.’’ She was also concerned about the impact of people moving through the gardens at night. The council did not offer a response to Westside News’ questions about Ms Henry’s claims.
The Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha is of immense cultural and heritage value to Brisbane and its values as a botanic gardens must be preserved, and enhanced to augment these values.The councils vision is clearly out of touch with what a botanic gardens is and why people visit them.
5 December 2016: BCC’s Mt Coot-tha Precinct Project Plan includes a “Mt Coot-tha Precinct Revitalisation” map showing a ‘Potential zip line area’ that is not near the gardens, nor the Mt Coot-tha summit.
The proposed six ziplines and their associated landing area, noise, lights, traffic through the Gardens, and traffic congestion in the Gardens would dominate and negatively impact an area of some 5.2 hectares (350 m x 150 m) which is approximately ten percent of the total area of the Botanic Gardens of 56 hectares.[would dominate most of the Gardens due to the large and frequent vehicles]
If five in 10 of Brisbane residents aged between 15 and 24 years use the ziplines once every five years, then this equates to 41 per day, or three per hour, which is also not economic.
Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens flowers & lake Images: Maree Robertson