BREAKING NEWS: WIPE OUT - North Break wave park no longer after courts overturn development application


Michael Warren


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The site of the proposed wave park at Mowbray. Picture: Michael Warren

In a development set to split public opinion right across the Douglas Shire, the much-discussed North Break wave park development which gained Council approval on March 30 last year won’t proceed after the Planning and Environment Court overturned the decision.

In a lengthy statement Douglas Shire Sustainability Group (DSSG) a local group that appealed the DA’s approval said, “it is vindicated in its opposition to this development in our Shire”.

And that “this is a win for all those wishing to safeguard the integrity of our planning scheme and ensuring appropriate development in Douglas Shire.

“The process of the Court has allowed public opinion to be heard and in this case, validated.”


(DSSG) submitted its appeal to oppose the DA based on the following reasons: combination of inappropriate use of land (the current zoning of the land is rural), building height, built form, character and visual amenity impacts, environmental impacts, particularly given the site is proximate to the Great Barrier Reef and Mowbray River, loss of important agricultural land, flooding impacts on surrounding properties, failure to demonstrate proper infrastructure servicing, particularly given the demand required from Council’s limited potable water supply, adverse traffic impacts, lack of need and inconsistency with community expectations.


In ruling in their favour (DSSG) was firm of why in their view the DA should never have been approved.

“Council has a lot to learn from this case,” (DSSG) spokesperson Didge McDonald said.

“It must stop approving development in flood prone and storm surge areas, it must stop relying on expert reports from developers, and instead seek independent expert advice.

“It must stop trying to undermine or work around our Planning Scheme and the development footprint.

“Council must undertake its own assessment of developments in a Coastal Management District and needs to consider future impacts, including climate change when it approves development applications.”

The DSSG claims their Planning expert found that “Council approved the development despite the subsequent findings of experts that the proposed conditions placed by Council were either deficient or inaccurate and inappropriate to address the identified problems.

“More specifically, Council appears to have based their decision to approve the proposed development on the acceptance that problems will arise, though without understanding the severity of the problems; how they might be managed or mitigated – if at all - and at what cost. There appears to have been no consideration of the holistic effect of addressing the problems.

“Further, the State has based their decision to approve the proposed development on erosion prone land in a Coastal Management District, involving the removal of marine plants, on incomplete and inaccurate information.

“The State’s decision to approve development in the coastal management district and remove marine vegetation has likely caused Council to either not look closely at their own policy in respect of these matters, or rely only on the State’s assessment.

“In summary, Council did not have the technical knowledge or resources to assess an application of this nature, nor the impacts it is likely to generate.

“Council has relied heavily on the developer’s consultants, which have generally provided rudimentary, if any assessments at all.”


Upon last year’s announcement the project’s developers revealed a 300 metre long, surfable wave pool and a 10-acre freshwater swimming lagoon would be at the heart of the project that was set down for Mowbray.

The application also detailed a three storey 4.5-star hotel with 164 rooms and a future retail area on site that would cater to hospitality, conference, day spa and function spaces.

The developers further elaborated the project would offer short term accommodation, which would consist of 90 self-contained villas, along with a tourist park area of 35 self-contained cabins, a caretaker’s residence and a helipad.

What could have been

Just months ago the brainchild of the wave park project Dave Imgraben detailed his rationale and passion for the project to Newsport and why he felt it would be perfect for Douglas.

“I’ve been here in Port Douglas a long time,” he remarked.

“I have a 33-year-old son that was born here, I’m a passionate surfer as well.

“There are a lot of Aussies that won’t come this far north during the holiday season because they can’t get a wave here.

“I feel this is a really good opportunity to provide something like that to cater to those that want to get a wave up here.

“Douglas Shire also has a big push to drive its adventure tourism market and this project fits in well with that.

“One of the major positives of the park will be its linkage to the Wangetti Trail.

“Children will be able to ride a bike or get on a scooter and come directly out to the site when it’s built.

"They won’t have to cross a road, (they) don’t have to cross a highway - there will be awesome accessibility for those guys.

“In general, we’ve had awesome support from both (the) Federal and State Governments. (Federal Leichhardt MP) Warren Entsch calls this place the ‘northern bookend’ of the Wangetti trail.

“For years I’ve heard people come into Port Douglas and ask, ‘what does Port Douglas need?’ Port Douglas has got a lot; I just feel the wave park will add something to the region.”

What do you think? Is this a good or bad decision?

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