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Biologist says ‘not enough
science used in court case’

by Cameron Outridge


Retired CSIRO and University of Queensland wildlife biologist Les Hall is shocked by the “lax way” the Department of Natural Resources and Mines is defending its right to control the development and use of creek banks.  Dr Hall was referring to last Friday’s Planning and Environment Court hearing between Cornerstone and the Department at Brisbane Magistrates Court.  Judge Rackermann deferred his decision due to other legal matters but promised he would make a decision as early as possible.

The Planning and Environment Court case centres around defining where is the true bank of Obi Obi Creek, where Cornerstone plan to build a supermarket.  “The case was a challenge by Cornerstone trying to tell DNR that they don’t really own that area of the creek bank and they can’t fine them for destroying the vegetation and they can’t hold up construction,” said Dr Hall.  “If they win that they can take down the bunya and the silky oak.

“The only information that the Court is using to determine this is from information from a surveyor and a two hydrological engineers.  Despite it being the Planning and Environment Court no information has been discussed about the actual environmental issues concerning creek banks such as vegetation, soil types, wildlife, geomorphology and the geology which are major functions of the dynamics of a creek bank.  “It’s my opinion that Judge Rackermann hasn’t been given sufficient information to make a fully informed decision about the way we need to manage creek banks.

“If Cornerstone wins the dispute it will open the door for developers to build on creek banks and have parts of their building overhanging the actual water of the creek which is going to happen with the Cornerstone development here.  There will be a precedent set allowing that sort of development to go ahead.

“With the national concern over the health of our waterways as seen by the Federal Government and State Government’s plans for the Murray Darling catchment system, you would think that the fundamental way of protecting our waterways starts with our creek banks and starts at our local level.

“As all major centres of population are predicting severe water shortages in the near future Caloundra City Council has a gold mine in Obi Obi Creek and Baroon Pocket Dam which will make it a very water rich shire.

“The Council should be making absolutely every effort they can to maximise the flow and water quality in Obi Obi Creek – not interrupt and pollute it by allowing a large development on its banks.”

Our thanks once again to Cameron & Tanya Outridge
of the Range News Newspaper for this story.