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Frightened Mission Beach cassowary by Jeff Larson
To Hon Steven Miles, Minister State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning
Urgently call-in the heliport development at Mission Beach and protect endangered cassowaries
The endangered Southern Cassowary is a matter of State Interest. The iconic bird is recognised in local, regional, State and Federal planning instruments and legislation and is protected under Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act as well as the federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act (EPBC).
The Far North Queensland Regional Plan refers to Mission Beach as containing areas of High Ecological Significance including essential habitat of the endangered Southern Cassowary. That same Plan states that development proponents should consider the EPBC Act prior to taking any action, but to date, the applicant for this heliport development has not done so.
Cassowary Coast Regional Council’s very own Planning Scheme refers to the preservation of Cassowary habitat because the Cassowary is recognised as an iconic symbol of the region.
Despite this, Cassowary Coast Regional Council has approved a controversial heliport development on land which includes mapped areas of High Ecological Significance. The development will have a significant impact on Mission Beach’s Cassowary population.
Habitat loss is the number one threat to the survival of the endangered Southern Cassowary.
The land on which this development will take place includes mapped areas of High Ecological Significance.
This Development Application was not supported by any technical reports that allow us to ascertain the biodiversity value of adjacent habitat, the measures required to protect biodiversity and habitat on that site, or the demonstrated impact on biodiversity values.
The Development Application contained no assessment from a qualified expert as to how the facility will impact existing nesting, breeding and roosting sites located adjacent to the development or the impact on those sites being disturbed during take-off and landing procedures.
The noise pollution from the development is likely to have a high impact on the behaviour of cassowaries already under stress of being pushed into small habitat ranges and forced to use narrow habitat corridors.
The development’s flight path is directly over a high biodiversity coastal wetland including critically endangered Littoral rainforest which connects the Wet Tropics and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Areas.
The impact zone of the flight path from the facility is over a wilderness area which supports five cassowaries on a permanent basis.
The loud noise of helicopters will place cassowaries at a higher risk of roadkill from birds taking fright and may result in cassowaries avoiding essential habitat.
Cassowaries are mostly solitary and communicate with low frequency booming sounds that penetrate the rainforest to let other birds know of their presence. Helicopter noise and vibration may confuse or interrupt their ability to communicate.
This development undoubtedly affects an environmental interest of state significance: the preservation of the endangered Southern Cassowary and its habitat in the Mission Beach area.
The potential effects of this development on the Southern Cassowary have not been properly assessed because of the inadequate information in the Development Application material.
And the Development Application is inconsistent with the principles of ecological sustainability that underpin the Planning Act. For this project to be consistent with those principles it would need to conserve, enhance or restore habitat necessary for the survival of the endangered Southern Cassowary.
We’re calling on you, as Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning to use your call-in powers to re-assess the application for a heliport at Mission Beach.