The claws are out

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Scott Tibballs

THE Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil has been or­dered to con­sult en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists about a pro­posed an­i­mal shel­ter site be­fore the gov­ern­ment makes a de­ci­sion on the prop­erty.

But the coun­cil has hit back, say­ing none of the six green groups had pre­vi­ously raised con­cerns about the Yule Point site for Paws and Claws.

Dou­glas Shire Mayor Ju­lia Leu is seek­ing an ur­gent meet­ing with Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Mines Min­is­ter An­thony Lyn­ham, de­scrib­ing the han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion as “atro­cious”.

“I’m as­tounded that this is how the process has evolved, where coun­cil is in­structed to seek the ap­proval of a num­ber of groups, at least one of which has pro­vided the depart­ment with false in­for­ma­tion, be­fore de­cid­ing whether to ap­prove our re­quest or not,” she said.

Cr Leu said that the coun­cil’s sub­mis­sion, ar­gu­ing against the Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Mines Depart­ment’s ini­tial re­fusal, was proof enough that the pro­posed site was not ‘rem­nant rain­for­est that in­cludes es­sen­tial cas­sowary habi­tat’ as the Queens­land Con­ser­va­tion Coun­cil had claimed.

Ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil, the con­ser­va­tion coun­cil (QCC) had “made false as­ser­tions to the depart­ment re­gard­ing the pro­posed site” ... and has urged the depart­ment to “‘im­me­di­ately ad­vise coun­cil that the land in ques­tion will not be sold for the Paws and Claws shel­ter pro­posal and will in­stead be pro­tected as rem­nant rain­for­est and cas­sowary habi­tat”.

The coun­cil said none of the six groups had ap­proached the coun­cil with any con­cerns about the pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied par­cel of land at Yule Point.

“Is this how the state gov­ern­ment con­ducts its busi­ness th­ese days — do ma­jor projects in Bris­bane, Cairns or any­where else for that mat­ter re­quire this to oc­cur be­fore a proper as­sess­ment of the facts is made?”

Cr Leu said that the coun­cil would com­ply with the min­is­ter’s di­rec­tive but wanted Dr Lyn­ham and rel­e­vant depart­ment heads to meet her on the site to dis­cuss the pro­posal.

Paws and Claws pres­i­dent and shire coun­cil­lor Michael Kerr said the job of the depart­ment “is to sort this out, not pass the buck or make us deal with groups that have al­ready been seen to put false as­ser­tions for­ward on this is­sue”.

“As both pres­i­dent of Paws and Claws and a coun­cil­lor I wholly sup­port the mayor’s de­ci­sion to make this public and take the ac­tion she has,” he said.

QCC head Dr Tim Seelig said “clearing rain­for­est habi­tat for a dog and cat shel­ter is to­tally un­ac­cept­able”.

“This is an ap­palling pro­posal, which should be thrown in the bin straight away,” said Dr Seelig. He said the pro­posal in Dou­glas was a sign of a broader prob­lem attitude towards land clearing “which con­tin­ues to spi­ral out of con­trol”.

The coun­cil has been in­structed to also con­sult the Aus­tralian Con­ser­va­tion Foun­da­tion, World Wildlife Fund, Cairns and Far North En­vi­ron­ment Cen­tre, North Queens­land Con­ser­va­tion Coun­cil, Wildlife Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety of Queens­land and the Wilder­ness So­ci­ety.

Paws and Claws Pres­i­dent Michael Kerr.

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