Zipline subject to council DA

The Obi Obi Gorge zip line proposal will ultimately be submitted to Sunshine Coast Regional Council for development approval, with opportunities for public comment. The Department of Tourism contacted Friday on My Mind this week to assure us that a high level of scrutiny would be applied to the proposal at local, state and federal level “because it is in a national park and it is the first time.” For those who just came in, the Queensland Government has opened up national parks to allow private commercial enterprises, in this case an “eco-tourism” zip line project. A zip line is akin to a flying fox. In this instance cables would be strung down the Obi Obi gorge to “cloud stations” anchored to the trunks of trees. Punters will pay $150 each to get kitted out in safety gear and speed 2 kms down the wires at up to 80 kmh. Last week Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey announced the state government had chosen a preferred tenderer, Australian Zip Line Canopy Tours. There was little information in the departmental press release about the approval process. Last week we drew attention to the lack of public input during the “expressions of interest” process and criticised the state government for adopting a “commercial-in-confidence” process.
A Department of Tourism spokesman told us the proposal would need various permissions from organisations and individuals including the Department of Natural Resources, SEQ Water and private landholders adjacent to the Kondalilla National Park. There would be a “robust” assessment by the Department of National Parks, which has made it clear the proponent would have to “tick all the boxes.” The department would also require the proponent to refer the proposal to the Commonwealth Department of the Environment which would then determine if the zip line project should be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment. In any event, the community would have an opportunity to provide feedback during the development application process.
We appreciate the department taking us seriously and answering our questions thus far. This is not a new idea – it was first mooted in 2009, in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Nature Based Tourism Plan, which contained an eight-page conceptual outline. This time around, the State government engaged engineering and environment consulting group GHD to prepare a preliminary environment risk assessment report. It runs to 73 pages, but here it is if you want to have a read.

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