Group to stand firm against Daintree development

DAINTREE

Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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DSSG will not support a push for a bridge over the Daintree River, an upgraded coast road to Cooktown or grid electricity. IMAGE: Supplied.
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THE Douglas Shire Sustainability Group (DSSG), whose members include Mayor Julia Leu, Councillor David Carey and former shire mayor Mike Berwick, said today the group will stand firm against any key development north of the Daintree River.

DSSG president, Didge McDonald, said his group would specifically not support a push for a bridge over the Daintree River, an upgraded coast road to Cooktown and grid electricity.

The DSSG’s position was articulated in “Daintree newsletter No 1” which was originally posted on Facebook, but removed. McDonald did not know why this had occurred. They have since updated it on their website. 

CLICK HERE to read the updated newsletter

McDonald has also refuted claims made by Warren Entsch, the Federal Member for Leichhardt, and others in the ‘pro-grid camp’, that Leu and Carey’s membership of the DSSG could be a conflict of interest.

“There is no conflict as far as I am concerned. There are two conflicting views,” he said.

Yet, in a Mayoral Minute dated 18 November 2014 and titled Provision of Power to Communities North of the Daintree River, it states, in part, that "proposals for extension of electricity supply will, in principle, not be opposed".

It adds: "Council will co-operate fully with proposals for the extension of electricity supply to properties north of the river". The minute does list environmental provisions which need to be considered.


Leu said today that the 2014 Mayoral Minute was carried unanimously by Council and listed the provision of electricity to householders and businesses in communities north of the river to be an essential service.

It did, however, state this support was “provided, however, that any proposals clearly take into account the sensitive environmental characteristics of the area; the fact that it is an area largely of world heritage significance; and the climatic risks impacting the area such as cyclones and other weather events. All of which will impact decisions about the nature and scale of electricity supply and infrastructure which may be provided”.

She added that no alternative decision has been made and that policy direction still stands today.

Leu said being an ordinary member of the DSSG does not incur a conflict of interest. “I am not a member of the executive committee.

“The provision of electricity is not a local government responsibility and Council has no decision-making power, which makes it impossible for a conflict of interest to exist,” she said.

McDonald, meanwhile, in a letter to Newsport dated July 2, said DSSG supports a solution which maximises the use of renewable energy.

“Our proposal is much cheaper for government at a third of the price of grid power; it will not subsidise new development and is at no cost to residents.”

In the “Powering Daintree” report, which provided five options for consideration, the DSSG has questioned the first option – single microgrid – and have laid out their concerns in the attached newsletter.

The DSSG newsletter, meanwhile, calls for the creation of a plan to counter these “threats” (regarding development in the Daintree).

It says: “Given these threats seem to arise periodically, we think it is time for:

• A strategy to combat development pressures that threaten conservation values; and

• A Daintree Conservation Management Plan, to ensure the exceptional scientific, conservation and cultural values (see attachment 1) are conserved, enhanced and well presented.”
The plan outlines some of their strategies to get their message across. They include:

• Addressing music festivals – Black Mountain, Home Rule, Woodford…

• Public rally, Port Douglas, march down street, guest speakers, stinger park on Saturday morning/afternoon?

• Presentation to Daintree Planning Group (DSC, WTMA, NPWS, Jabilbinna) advocating a Daintree Conservation Management Plan

• Briefing to Council – Conservation Management Plan

• Letter to Minister Josh Frydenberg/ARENA re power report

• Briefing state member for Cook and Minister Enoch

• Address TPDD

 

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