Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - OPINION -

The de­ci­sion by the De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Mines (DNRM) to not ap­prove the sale of Lot 84 on SP204459 to the Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil (DSC) on be­half of Paws and Claws Home­less An­i­mal So­ci­ety and Board­ing Ken­nels Inc. is ap­palling and un­founded.

The DSC has been in dis­cus­sion with DNRM for over 12 months with re­gard to ac­quir­ing this block of land and has al­ready spent con­sid­er­able re­sources in do­ing so.

Over the past 12 months there has never been any in­di­ca­tion that there was a prob­lem with de­vel­op­ing a home­less an­i­mal shel­ter on the site.

The de­part­ment is also aware of the cur­rent cir­cum­stances of Paws and Claws, in that they had to va­cate their pre­vi­ous fa­cil­ity in Septem­ber of this year due to the owner want­ing to de­velop the land.

The Paws and Claws Home­less an­i­mal shel­ter has no place to call home. The need for this lo­cal fa­cil­ity is of ut­most im­por­tance with the RSPCA fa­cil­ity in Cairns about to close and another fa­cil­ity un­der­go­ing ma­jor ren­o­va­tions, thereby lim­it­ing the num­ber of an­i­mals they can house.

At the eleventh hour, the De­part­ment has deemed that the land is now not suit­able as it sup­pos­edly con­tains sig­nif­i­cant and sen­si­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal val­ues, in­cor­po­rat­ing wet­lands, of con­cern re­gional ecosys­tems and es­sen­tial habi­tat for the en­dan­gered South­ern Cas­sowary.

This area is not cas­sowary habi­tat. It does not sup­port the type of veg­e­ta­tion for cas­sowaries to sur­vive and in the 28 years that I have lived in the Dou­glas Shire, I have never seen or heard of any­one else see­ing a cas­sowary at or near this site.

I con­cur that the land has en­vi­ron­men­tal val­ues (as do most blocks of land) but these should not pre­vent a strictly con­di­tioned de­vel­op­ment ap­proval for a fenced an­i­mal shel­ter. It could be ar­gued that there is the po­ten­tial for more en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age from ma­raud­ing dogs and cats if the sale of the land and the build­ing of this fa­cil­ity do not go ahead.

If the State Govern­ment is now so con­cerned about pro­tect­ing cas­sowary habi­tat from fur­ther de­vel­op­ment, it should pro­vide some sub­stan­tial fund­ing to buy back the re­main­ing un­de­vel­oped blocks of land north of the Dain­tree River, which def­i­nitely is cas­sowary habi­tat. In the mean­time it should get on with sell­ing this land to the DSC so that Paws & Claws are no longer home­less.

Roisin Allen, Shan­non­vale

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