Gold Coast Bulletin article, 18 March 2013
In 2012, Planit Consulting was appointed to prepared a detailed master plan for the Gold Coast Ocean Terminal. The proposal is for the development of a three berth cruise ship facility with associated hotels, resorts, potential casino, retail and accommodation facilities, over approximately 100 hectares at North Kirra beach on the southern Gold Coast. In March this year, Planit was successful in obtaining Federal Government approval under the EPBCA for the proposal.
The $2.1 billion Gold Coast Ocean Terminal proposed for Bilinga has not been sunk, with a federal environmental department giving it the green light.
Billionaire Bob Ell along with fellow backers, Dennis and Lester Hughes, in November last year scrapped the proposal when the Gold Coast City Council steered the Newman Government towards seeking tenders for a Broadwater cruise ship terminal.
In a stunning turnaround, Gold Coast Ocean Terminal executive director Dennis Hughes has told the Bulletin the consortium was now ready to proceed at Bilinga, despite an earlier “kick in the pants” from the Government.
“We got the tick off (from the Federal Government) and we’re ready to roll. All we need is the state (approval) and we’re ready to build,” he said.
“The state sent us a letter saying we can’t have two (cruise ship terminals) — that was a few months ago.
“We are pretty focused people. We will sit back and wait.”
The game-changer for the southern Coast consortium was a positive assessment from the officers at the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
The department has given approval for the project, subject to it avoiding significant impacts on any threatened species, not dredging more than 100m from the development footprint and not undertaking any sea-dumping activities.
Plans for the Ocean Terminal show a beach harbour which includes three ship berths, 28 superyacht berths, three resorts and an option for a casino on a 93ha site.
“It’s a really good report from the Federal Government,” Mr Hughes said. “We’re a bit disappointed with the state. We thought they would favour us with the feds.
“It’s a kick in the pants.”
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney (see breakout opposite) has defended the Government’s position, admitting “the current process is (not) a project approval” for the Broadwater bid.
“The current Broadwater process was significantly informed by the Gold Coast City Council, which believed the Broadwater to be a vital location for the next wave of tourism investment on the Coast,” a spokesman for Mr Seeney said.
Mr Hughes, whose family company helped build the walls for the Seaway, suggested any Broadwater proposal would fail to meet environmental and engineering requirements. “We believe it is not going to go ahead,” he said.
“I can’t imagine anyone coming in here, moving all those walls and wrecking the sea life. They can’t get the really big ships in,” he said.
The response by the Ocean Terminal consortium to key questions raised by the department, for the first time, shows the challenges ahead for the Broadwater proposal.
But the scope of the department’s concerns has not included any impact on the surfing break.