Coconut debate continues
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.