Feb. 2019: SOF submits objection to Council regarding Shute Harbour Marina Development

On the 12th of Februsry 2019 Save Our Foreshore submitted a letter to the Whitsunday Regional Council interim CEO, Mr Bruce Davidson, regarding Agenda Item 12 to be considered at the Council meeting on the 13/02/19, regarding an application from Shute Harbour Marina Development Pty Ltd for Preliminary Approval for Material Change of Use to Vary the Whitsunday Regional Council Planning Scheme, on L: 22 SP: 208207 T: PT TL239765, L:23 SP: 208207 T: PT TL239765 and located at Shute Harbour Road, Shute Harbour.

Save Our Foreshore Inc (SOF) has a well documented history of opposing this proposal; the grounds stated for the objection are as below:

This is a 1980s proposal that is totally unrealistic in today's world given our, now extensive, knowledge of climate change and environmental impacts on an already stressed inner and outer reef system. Four major issues for the community are:

  • Climate change and the increased risks posed to developments in the intertidal zone as a result
  • Water Quality and environmental impacts on an already stressed reef system
  • Insurance and liability risks
  • No proven need for either built form or marina berths

To read the full objection document please click here.

Council seeks community’s long-term vision for Shute Harbour

Community Consultation will be taking place over the next month to allow residents to put forward their ideas for the long-term future of Shute Harbour. The marine facility at Shute Harbour was damaged extensively during Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie, with funding for major repairs recently granted by insurers and through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). Before major restoration works take place over the next year, Council would like to know what the community feels is important for the future of Shute Harbour. At this stage, Council will only be able to restore the damaged terminal buildings, seawall, jetties and pontoons, however there is an opportunity for future-proofing the site. Mayor Andrew Willcox said the consultation process would allow for all ideas and suggestions to be recorded and considered during restoration. “We may not have the funds right now to expand upon the repairs, but we can make sure we don’t rule anything out for long-term planning,” he said. “We want to get this right, and put ourselves in the best position possible for any future development.” “By future-proofing the facility, we can make sure we budget appropriately for any upcoming development at Shute Harbour.”

Read SOF's submission.

Not Needed, Not wanted!
View of Shute Harbour as it is now

This proposal will turn World Heritage seabed, surrounded by National Park and a publicly accessible foreshore with spectacular views, into private property. The marine habitat will be destroyed, and the views obliterated by high buildings and high breakwaters. This will be replaced with:

  • a 395 berth marina
  • a 109 suite resort hotel
  • a retirement resort with 70 apartments,
  • a managed resort with 52 lots
  • a supermarket and specialty shops

What it could become

Another step in the 'Death of a thousand cuts' approach to managing development on the Great Barrier Reef.

This project will obliterate high-conservation value, productive seagrass habitat surrounded by Marine Park and National Park, home to dugongs, turtles and juvenile fish.

The reclamation of seabed is listed as a 'threatening process' to the health of the Great Barrier Reef by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Increased boat traffic will result in the deaths of sea turtles as their habitat is replaced by a marina. These animals do not just 'go somewhere else'; they are site attached and will keep returning until they are killed by a boat propeller.

What it could become

This style of development is a thing of the past.

Developments which rely on destruction of public assets such as productive seabed habitats, in order to create private real estate and profits, are dinosaurs from the 1980s and should be a thing of the past.

Approximate area of seabed to be developed

This proposal is likely to cost Whitsunday ratepayers dearly

The track record of proposals such as this one in Queensland is not good. More often than not developments run out of money long before they are completed, leaving ratepayers to clean up the mess and finish off what has been started, and leaving promises made to the public unfulfilled.

Shute Harbour to become a 10 year building site

Can we expect more of this?

Sediment plume from coastal development Whitsundays, 05/02/2008

See what is proposed for Shute Harbour: Shute Harbour Marina Resort brochure.

Read SOF's full response to the Shute Harbour Marina Proposal supplementary EIS.

Save World Heritage Shute Harbour

The Save Our Foreshore organisation is totally opposed to what it sees as nothing more than yet another public waterfront land grab for high end residences - using a marina as its justification.

December 2013

Not Needed, Not wanted!


Approved: Shute Harbour to become a 10 year building site

Enough is Enough

Can we expect more of this?

Sediment plume from coastal development Whitsundays, 05/02/2008

If this development on our public foreshore is approved, many thousands of locals and visitors will lose an irreplaceable environmental and scenic treasure, primarily so a private developer can on-sell reclaimed blocks of World Heritage seabed land to third-party developers.

Ask around and you will find a majority of Whitsunday residents are prepared to fight vigorously against the proposed Shute Harbour marina development; they continue to see it, after all these years, as still very dodgy - a clear landgrab that possibly only the naive would doubt.

Sadly, Minister Seeney’s recent statement about a ‘world class facility’ at Shute exactly echoes sentiments expressed prior to the failed and uncompleted Abel Point, Port of Airlie and Laguna Quays marinas, which have empty berths year round to this day, some with huge ponds of impossible-to-dispose-of acid sulphate soil - all precipitously on the brink of the fragile World Heritage Great Barrier Reef. Shute’s tidal movements, it’s deep layer of silt, it’s position at the heart of the Reef, make it a dead cert for disaster if this goes ahead.

The questionable 30+year history of this proposal, the lack of need, the lack of financial capability, lack of adequate answers to the to the Environmental Impact Study and the current weak supplementary EIS, plus the disregard for overwhelming and blindlingly clear evidence that makes the proposal a looming disaster, may not yet have been drawn to the responsible minister’s attention.

Ratepayers and struggling businesses are already burdened with unexpected, over-inflated costs from the local council’s insolvency and the failed Port of Airlie – they don’t want to shoulder the infrastructure expenses and loss of business guaranteed if this project goes ahead..

The Whitsundays has endured negative press while trying to promote the ‘green and blue’ ethos of the region. Why? Because of bad decision making by ‘the powers that be’. We ask Mr Seeney, please, please not to join those ranks and make it even worse. We don’t need another 15 years of visual/traffic/tourism chaos here in what should otherwise be rightly one of Australia’s most beautiful destinations.

Minister Seeney has a prime opportunity to dutifully serve the people of the Whitsundays, of Queensland and tourists world wide by protecting the reefs and waterways, the bays and crucial mangrove areas, the already strained economy of our region by just saying ‘no’ to this highly questionable proposal.

Location of Shute Harbour

An objection by Dr. J.E.N. Veron:

About Dr. Veron

"As one of the few people who have worked on all the major coral reef regions of the world, I have become increasingly concerned about reef degradation that comes from coastal urbanisation. Australia stands almost alone in having extensive reefs that are still undamaged from this cause and thus I have long supported the efforts of GBRMPA to protect the Great Barrier Reef through managing coastal environments. The connection between reefs and adjacent land is now only too obvious: reefs degrade when coastal ecosystems are not preserved.

"Shute Harbour is one of the best-know components of the world’s most highly treasured reef region. Development of the foreshore is not in the national interest and nor is it long-term interest of the region. Unlike most of the world, we Australians still have a choice – either we conserve such places, or we loose them forever. When future generations look back, I hope they will see good management decisions where our best foreshore environments have been preserved for all time.

"Yours faithfully,
J.E.N. Veron
Former Chief Scientist,
Australian Institute of Marine Science"

An objection by Professor F. H. Talbot:

"Dear the Hon. Jan Jarratt MP, Member for Whitsunday,

"I have worked on coral reefs for over 40 years, on the GBR since 1965, in the Caribbean, and on the reefs of East Africa and Zanzibar and also New Guinea, and published papers on reef ecology and recently a book on reef management (Coral Reefs, Mangroves and Seagrasses: A Sourcebook for Managers; F.Talbot & C.Wilkinson, 2001; Australian Institute of Marine Science).

"Sadly I have watched the steady decline of reef systems. The reasons have been many, including forest clearing, urbanisation, sewage pollution, over-fishing and the removal of wetlands and mangroves.

"You have a gem in the Whitsunday area, and one that attracts thousands of tourists, many of them in yachts. The number of vessels is now so high that many anchorages that are destinations for the yachts are becoming crowded. More marina berths are already under way. I suggest you do not accept the very large Shute Harbour marina development in addition, as you are overburdening the area and damaging its shallow water systems.

"You will already know that the inshore reefs along much of the GBR are less than pristine. This new Shute Harbour development, destroying rich shallow ecosystems, just adds to the steady pressure on the reef in the Whitsunday area.

"The fame of the GBR is well known, but reef systems are common in the Indian and Pacific Ocean tropics...if the word was out that the GBR was tired, your tourists would flock to better reefs.

"Rather than slowly kill your golden goose, I suggest this development will do too much harm to the Whitsundays. You would be wise to prevent it.

"Your sincerely,
Professor F. H. Talbot, Sydney Institute of Marine Science
Director Emeritus, US National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution"