Contrary to the Douglas Shire Council’s claim in its Daintree Crossings Options Paper that “no significant environmental or hydrological studies (are) required to obtain approvals (for a bridge)”, the Qld Department of Environment and Science have informed DouglasNews.Network that any impact on the National Park and World Heritage Area “….would require thorough assessment under the relevant State and Commonwealth legislation”.
The Queensland Department of Environment and Science written response confirms “The Daintree National Park is within the Wet Tropics World Heritage area and any development proposal that could impact on these World Heritage values would require thorough assessment under the relevant State and Commonwealth legislation”.
On the question of how to fund a bridge, the Options Paper relies on a toll for funding.
In the opening headline for Channel 7 Local News televised last night, Tuesday 8 September, 2020, Mayor Michael Kerr said that “of course a bridge would be funded by the State and Federal government”.
However in response to questions from DouglasNews.Network about its willingness to fund a bridge across the Daintree, or provide for a toll to be collected, the Department of Environment and Science said “to date no proposal has been provided to the Government.”
Queensland Government comments are in response to questions proposed by DouglasNews.Network, asking if the State supported replacing the ferry with a bridge, upgrading the existing road to Main Road status (meaning the State would own and operate the road and bridge), or if it would legislate to provide for a toll.
The relevant State legislation is the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld ,
which provides the framework for the creation and management of protected areas including National Parks, conservation parks, resources reserves, nature refuges, coordinated conservation areas, wilderness areas, world heritage management areas, international agreement areas and protection of native species.
The relevant Commonwealth legislation is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act,
The EPBC Act enables the Australian Government to join with the States and Territories in providing a truly national scheme of environment and heritage protection and biodiversity conservation. The EPBC Act focuses Australian Government interests on the protection of matters of national environmental significance, with the States and Territories having responsibility for matters of State and local significance.
Although the four bridge options are accessed where there is private property either side of the Daintree River, the direct impacts of the bridge on riparian (river bank) vegetation would be significant.
The flow-on impacts are likely to be so significant as to risk the area being listed as World Heritage In Danger according to Professor Steve Turton.
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