Within 48 hours of its launch, over 2500 people signed a petition expressing their opposition to the Douglas Shire Council Mayor’s proposals threatening the Daintree World Heritage rainforest.
The newly elected Mayor, in a Mayoral Minute to be presented at the Ordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday 28th April proposes steps be taken to suspend the existing contract to provide a second solar powered ferry across the Daintree and investigate the building of a bridge over the Daintree River.
The cause for alarm is that a bridge will lead to inevitable widening of the narrow, winding scenic road to become a shorter, main road to Cooktown, an extension of the Cook Highway, a widely known, long held aspiration of the Cook Shire and local member Warren Entsch, would effectively overturn 25 years of policy constraints on through traffic. A road upgrade of this magnitude requires sizeable earthworks over the Alexander Range and along the Bloomfield Track, impacting significantly on the World Heritage listed rainforest and endangering rare, threatened and iconic wildlife including Cassowaries and tree kangaroos, changing the character of the Daintree Coast forever.
Furthermore, the Daintree ferry has long been treasured by tourists and the tourism industry as a novel gateway from a developed landscape to the mystique and beauty of the Daintree Coast.
Mayor Kerr also proposes Council support a power grid in the Daintree, pledging to subsidise in kind, the building of a grid with Council property, infrastructure and expertise. The grid would require over 120 kilometres of cabling, causing further concern around major environmental impact during construction. The combination of a primary thoroughfare and grid power has the potential to drive considerable population growth and development, leading to the significant disruption of the unique and fragile Daintree ecology. Many residents have indicated a preference for money to be spent on upgrading existing standalone renewable energy systems, with the majority opposing a bridge, recognising the role and value of the ferry.
Both development proposals are considered costly and unnecessary, however more importantly, significantly damaging to the world’s most ancient forests, recognised as among the most valuable and irreplaceable on the planet.
The Daintree Coast is the one of the Douglas Shires two most valuable assets both environmentally and in its value to tourism, which would be compromised by these two developments and the reputation of our shire as a leading ecotourism destination lost.
Coming at a time when the Great Barrier Reef has suffered its third mass bleaching event coupled with a global perception the reef is dying, the world will now be watching the demise of the Daintree Coast, dealing a double blow to the Shires main economic driver.
Peoplepower saved the Daintree from development which led to World Heritage status in 1988.
Signatories to the petition sent a clear message to the Douglas Shire Council that the community does not want these damaging projects threatening the Daintree Coast.
Update Wednesday 3 June:
12,999 people have now signed the petition to Save the Daintree Again!