January 19, 2021

The news service people turn to for quality information and opinion.

Will you vote for a bridge over the Daintree?

DouglasNews.Network are publishing a series of articles over the coming weeks covering issues pertaining to the proposed river crossing options and the new Council’s public consultation process.
We will be assessing the adequacy of Council’s process as it develops. Readers are invited to contribute views and commentary to the debate.

Concerned residents, ratepayers and community members are invited to cast their vote at the Douglas Shire Council survey: Hard copies of the Options Report may be viewed at Council Administration in Mossman, at both Libraries, at Masons Cafe in Cape Tribulation, Rainforest Village in Diwan,  Daintree Discovery Centre in Cow Bay and at Croc Express in Daintree Village.


LATEST ARTICLES

NEWSROOM / Daintree Ferry Proposal to Proceed

Last week Douglas Shire Councillors considered the results of its recent survey about options for crossing the Daintree. The survey results confirm the views of DSSG members that a bridge is neither required nor desired and that this community prefers conservation over development. Two thirds of those surveyed said they preferred a two ferry system.

DOUGLAS SHIRE COUNCIL / Mayor criticised by Councillors as Council resolution disobeyed

In unison, all four Councillors criticised aspects of the Daintree ferry debacle that Mayor Kerr has brought about. At Douglas Shire Council’s Ordinary Meeting held on December 15, 2020, the two-ferry or bridge question should have been finalised.   It appears, however, that the Mayor is still trying to avoid having the contract signed, by instigating a questionable last minute change to the meeting recommendation, and further, not advising all fellow Councillors of his intention to do so.

DAINTREE VIEWS / Douglas Shire Residents Prefer Two Ferries over a Bridge at Daintree River

Today’s results of Douglas Shire Council’s consultation on the Daintree River Crossing Option confirm that 66% of Douglas Shire residents and ratepayers prefer a two-ferry service compared to 33% of people who choose a bridge. 1% prefer a single ferry.
These results consolidate the excellent work completed by the previous Council under the leadership of Julia Leu as mayor. The new consultation has wasted a year of time and resources. The previous Council approved the two-ferry option on December 3, 2019. New ferries would have been operational on July 1, 2021, in seven months time. Now, this will not happen, as a new contract needs to be signed before the contractor can commence construction of the new ferries.

SAVE THE DAINTREE AGAIN / DSSG Responds to Daintree River Crossing Survey Results

Douglas Shire Sustainability Group (DSSG) welcomes the results of a survey conducted by Douglas Shire Council into the appetite for a bridge crossing the Daintree River.The survey results confirm the views of DSSG members that a bridge is neither required nor desired and that this community prefers conservation over development. Two thirds of those surveyed said they preferred a two ferry system.

DAINTREE FERRY / Public consultation results published

The survey results are in with Douglas Shire preferring a two-ferry crossing over a bridge at the Daintree River. The detailed results, released on Douglas Shire Council’s website today, revealed a majority of those who completed the Daintree River Crossing Survey preferred a two-ferry service with 66% of the count, compared to 33% of people who chose a bridge.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR / Claims that a Daintree bridge is less damaging than a ferry

Today’s featured Letter to the Editor addresses claims of a proposed bridge over the Daintree River being more environmentally friendly than. the ferry. “Members of Douglas Shire Sustainability Group (DSSG) have participated in the Douglas Shire Council’s process which is aimed at determining the appetite of residents and others for a bridge over a two ferry system, as a means of crossing the Daintree River. As the arguments in favour of a bridge have been eroded, we have noted that proponents are sticking with two arguments to support their claim that a bridge is less environmentally damaging than a ferry.”

BRIDGE OVER THE DAINTREE / Lowest cost option will clear endangered forests

The Douglas Shire Council’s ‘Daintree River Crossing – Options Assessment Report’ gives the costs of the four bridge options as between $53 and $75 million with the average of $60 million compared to the double ferry option of $2.8 million. The two lowest cost bridge options require the clearing of endangered forest types. It is highly unlikely that permits would be issued to clear this endangered vegetation when there are other options .

Letter to the Editor / A close investigation of the Daintree river crossing options consultation

As a general member of the community with no affiliations to any political group I feel it’s important for the people of the Douglas Shire to have oversight of ALL of the questions being submitted to the DSC and the DSC’s responses. So, I am respectfully requesting that my questions and answers be published on the DNN website and Facebook page if you are agreeable.

Opinion/ Changing the Goal Posts and the Rules Without Telling the Players

DOUGLASNEWS.NETWORK The current Daintree River Crossing Options poll has become a football match where the umpires have changed the goal posts and the rules without telling the players, in the middle of game. At the Mossman public consultation meeting on Friday, Council staff advised that people who are not happy with either of the two…

PUSH POLLING / Pushing the Bridge Option Divides Community

The Douglas Shire Council is currently conducting a poll on a bridge versus a two-ferry option. The actual consultation is restricted and people have told us that information being presented is insufficient and misleading. Many people do not regard the process as free, fair and transparent, as it looks like a deliberate push for a bridge under the guise of consultation. Push polling is a common tactic used to get people to support one side of a poll over the other.

Daintree Crossing Options / Cost Benefit Analysis shows Two-Ferry Option is Best

The Daintree River Crossing Options Report prepared by the Douglas Shire Council is not an economic analysis that governments would use to determine if an option is worth funding. Cost Benefit Analysis reports are used to show if a project generates a net public benefit or cost. The Cost Benefit Analysis shows: Two Ferry Option yields a $6.817 million net benefit while the Bridge Option yields a $40.644 million net cost.

DAINTREE RIVER / Alarm Bells at UNESCO

A coalition of organisations made up of Douglas Shire Sustainability Group, the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre, the Queensland Conservation Council, The Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation have collectively written to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to raise concerns about development threats to the Daintree Lowland Rainforest…

Save the Daintree / AGAIN!

A “Save the Daintree, Again” campaign is being launched by a coalition of local and national conservation groups who see the push for a bridge over the Daintree River, coastal road upgrade and reticulated electricity as a threat to the areas’ Outstanding Universal Values, the foundation of its World Heritage Listing.

daintree river crossing options paper

Daintree River Crossing / Government has heard nothing of Council expecting them to fund a Daintree bridge

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”.

daintree river

Daintree River Crossing Issue 2 / Bridge Options Costs and Other Considerations

This article investigates the costings and issues associated with the four bridge options presented in Douglas Shire Council’s Daintree River Crossing – Options Assessment Report released in August 2020. (see References below). According to estimates, the lowest cost bridge option would be around $53 million with the other options being considerably more. The two ferry option will only cost $2.8 million and this will be rapidly recovered through ferry charges.

daintree river crossing

Daintree River Crossing / Ferry or Bridge?

MEDIA RELEASE BY DOUGLAS SHIRE COUNCIL Replacing the ferry service with a bridge over the Daintree River has been debated passionately in the community for many years. There are people who believe the ferry service needs to be retained and those who think a bridge is the only practical solution.  There is also a section…

BACKGROUND

The current Daintree ferry contract is due to expire on 30 June 2021. The previous Council made a resolution on December 3, 2019 to award a new contract for a two ferry system, instructing the CEO to execute the contract and made public announcements with press releases about the new contract. Following a tender process, Douglas Shire Council resolved to commence contractual negotiations with local company, Sirron Enterprises Pty Ltd which proposed a two ferry service. This comprised a new 36-vehicle ferry operating in the main Daintree River channel year round with the existing 27-vehicle ferry operating downstream during the busier tourist ‘high’ season.

However, CEO Mark Stoermer, for reasons unknown, never executed the contract, a fact none of the Councillors were aware of at the time. Ms Leu says Councillors all assumed it was executed so the successful tenderer could deliver on time. No explanation has ever been offered for the CEO’s decision not to execute the contract as instructed by the Council. Once a Council has decided to award a contract and made it public, convention says the contract has been awarded even though it has not been signed. Suspending the ferry contract and making no decision till December means the successful tenderer has no chance of delivering two new ferries by July 2021.


In April 2020, via a Mayoral Minute, Douglas Shire Council resolved to temporarily suspend the Daintree River Ferry contract negotiations and perform a second round of community consultation to include a bridge option.


Daintree River Crossing Options Assessment Report examines a bridge option and the proposed two-ferry service, includes costs and provides a comparison against the current single ferry arrangement.
According to Douglas Shire Council, this report will be released publicly and the community will be invited to provide feedback on the different options examined, and, if they have one, their preferred Daintree River Crossing option.

“As well, the cost of building a bridge is well beyond the financial capacity of this Council, whereas the ferry pays for itself and permanently employs more than 20 staff.

We also know visitors love the ferry experience, it is as the gateway to a whole new world, the world’s most ancient forests, one of the world’s iconic environmental assets and World Heritage listed for those reasons.”

Former Douglas Shire Council Mayor
Julia Leu

Options Report Released August 2020

Douglas Shire Council resolved to release the Daintree River Crossing Options Report at its Ordinary Meeting 25 August, 2020. The report examines a two-ferry service and a bridge option, and compares them against the current single ferry arrangement. Douglas Shire Council also endorsed a Public Consultation Plan

Consultation opens 14 September 2020, and closes 26 October, 2020. DouglasNews.Network will closely follow Council’s handling of this matter during the projected three week consultation period. The adequacy of the length of the consultation period is a further question for debate.

“The bridge option was ruled out because the great majority preferred to retain the ferry as an iconic experience and wanted only to ensure any new ferry or ferries had sufficient capacity to avoid the long queues that occurred at the peak of the tourism season.”

Former Douglas Shire Council Mayor
Julia Leu

“The Daintree River Crossing Options Assessment Report, while meeting basic Council requirements, is woefully inadequate for such an environmentally sensitive area, and will undoubtedly receive national and international scrutiny and criticism.”

Dr Steve Turton, DFIAG
Adjunct Professor of Environmental Geography, Central Queensland University and University of the Sunshine Coast