Garrett steps in to protect cassowary
CONSERVATIONISTS are celebrating a landmark victory at Mission Beach after Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett stepped in to stop a sub-division in remnant rainforest.
Mr Garrett said he had acted to protect the endangered southern cassowary, which lives in the area.
It is only the second time the Federal Government has used its powers under the 1999 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to step in and rule out a development proposal.
"It is a serious and unusual step (but) … I had no choice," Mr Garrett said during yesterday's announcement. The sub-division application, lodged several months ago with the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, was for 40 residential lots on 24ha of forested land off Rockingham Close at Wongaling Beach.
Outraged Mission Beach conservationists had campaigned against it, saying the land was a crucial link for cassowaries between adjoining World Heritage rainforest and the coast.
Mr Garrett said vegetation would have needed to be cleared.
"Even strict conditions wouldn't have been enough to protect this vital (cassowary) corridor," he said.
"Land clearing and development have already had a dramatic impact on the cassowary. Most of the former cassowary habitat has been lost (and) the population is under severe threat."
Neither the developer Willmatt Holdings nor Cassowary Coast Mayor Bill Shannon could be contacted yesterday.
But longtime Mission Beach resident Liz Gallie spoke for action group Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation yesterday when she claimed a "huge victory for the environment".
"This is hopefully the first step to really big changes … if we're serious about saving the cassowary, development here has to be looked at in a totally different way," she said.
The only other proposal ever to be rejected outright by the Federal Government under the Act was an application to shoot an unspecified number of threatened grey-headed flying foxes at Singleton in New South Wales.
Share this article
Stepping in: Environment Minister Peter Garrett.
THE re-introduction of Jetstar's four weekly direct services to Osaka in Japan and a doubling of flights to Melbourne from April 1 next year are the first significant announcements today by the airline as the result of a new agreement with Cairns Airport.
INSPIRING young leader and cancer survivor Kate Smith could hardly believe she won a national Pride of Australia medal last night.
BREAKING NEWS: Tony Abbott is the new Opposition Leader.
BREAKING NEWS: Police have found a man who escaped from police custody at Ravenshoe on Sunday night.
THE girlfriend of a man accused of raping and attempting to rape two foreign tourists at a Cairns caravan park says she watched him bash and strip one of them then chase after her.