Co­conut de­bate con­tin­ues

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - PAUL MIL­TON BUT­LER

THE great co­conut de­bate is far from re­solved af­ter a spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing on Mon­day.

A Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil re­port on the Four Mile Beach reveg­e­ta­tion project - which in­volved the re­moval of about 50 co­conut palms and re­plant­ing of 3000 na­tive plants - tabled at the spe­cial meet­ing urged coun­cil­lors to en­dorse the work al­ready car­ried out and ap­prove the com­ple­tion of the project.

Other op­tions tabled

in the coun­cil re­port were to ap­ply to the State Gov­ern­ment to re­place the re­moved co­conuts or cease any reveg­e­ta­tion works within the re­serve and main­tain the site as a grassed area.

But Di­vi­sion 10 Coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu said more con­sul­ta­tion was re­quired and was unan­i­mously sup­ported by the other coun­cil­lors with an al­ter­na­tive mo­tion to de­fer the mat­ter af­ter re­ceiv­ing new in­for­ma­tion which cast doubt on the coun­cil’s sta­tus re­port.

The coun­cil­lors will now hold a work­ship with coun­cil of­fi­cers next week to de­bate the is­sues.

“This has clearly be­come a very public de­bate and peo­ple want to have their say in what is hap­pen­ing in their area and to their beach,” Cr Leu said.

“What has hap­pened here re­cently has even sparked a na­tional opin­ion to be voiced on what should be done and many peo­ple are very un­happy at the re­moval of the trees on such an iconic beach.

“But closer to home, peo­ple do need to feel that they are in­volved and are able to have a say in what hap­pens to their beaches when it comes to any sort of re­ha­bilita- tion or re­moval of trees along the beach.”

Dur­ing the spe­cial meet­ing, which Cr Leu could only par­tic­i­pate in via a tele­con­fer­enc­ing link be­cause the Cap­tain Cook High­way to Cairns was blocked again on Mon­day due to heavy rains caus­ing more land­slides, it was re­vealed that even the coun­cil’s of­fi­cers were con­fused over the man­age­ment plan for the co­conut trees in the Dou­glas re­gion.

In 2004 the Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil adopted a co­conut man­age­ment plan which ap­pears to have been over­looked as part of a re­vised plan­ning scheme.

“It has been made very clear that peo­ple no mat­ter what re­gion they live in, want to in­di­vid­u­ally man­age their own beaches and not have a uni­form de­sign or rul­ing for all of the beach ar­eas,” Cr Leu said.

“Sen­ti­ment does run deep over this is­sue es­pe­cially where tourism is para­mount to the econ­omy such as in Port Dou­glas.”

All work at the site will now be halted, ex­cept for the spread­ing of some light mulch, un­til at least the next coun­cil meet­ing sched­uled for April 11.

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