Twin towers project approved to dismay of Cairns environmentalists
A NEW high-rise hotel in the Cairns CBD has been given the green tick of approval, paving the way for hundreds of new jobs but prompting outrage from environmentalists.
The federal environment department has issued a permit for work to start on the GA Group’s $120 million “twin towers” project at the intersection of Abbott and Aplin streets.
While the approval comes with a long list of conditions designed to minimise harm to spectacled flying foxes, which are listed as threatened, five trees favoured by the bats are expected to be cleared this Friday.
The development is part of the group’s $370 million plan to reshape the Cairns CBD with construction underway at its Tradewinds Esplanade project.
Preliminary work also has started at the GA Group’s Bellview/Virginia House site between the Esplanade and Abbott St.
Prime Group is in charge of construction of the three projects.
Its director Andy Taylor said the company would “ensure minimal impact on the local flying fox population”.
“We understand wholeheartedly the concern of some residents and we can guarantee that all conditions will be met and we will work with local, state and federal governments at every turn to ensure we work appropriately within our environmental constraints,” he said.
Mr Taylor said the five trees needed to be removed “to ensure the project proceeds and the hotel is able to be built”.
“This hotel will create hundreds of jobs during construction and will inject long term an enormous amount of economic stimulus to the region (estimated at $900 million),” he said.
Activity has ramped up in the past 48 hours at the site.
Ten private security guards are on the scene to “secure the location so appropriate preparations can be carried out in a safe manner”.
The department has given the company about five years to complete the necessary works.
Among the conditions put in place is the requirement for the developer to “not undertake clearance activities during the spectacled flying-fox breeding or rearing season”.
Cairns environmentalist and “friend of the flying foxes” Brynn Mathews said he and others would be “certainly paying a lot of attention” at the site to ensure the developer was not breaching any conditions.
He also did not rule out engaging in civil disobedience, but he said with the amount of security in place, it was difficult to see what could be done to stop the trees being cleared.
This article is an extract from The Cairns Post written by Dominic Geiger,
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