A massive new Great Barrier Reef resort is another step closer to being built after the Queensland government approved the plans.
The $600 million Great Keppel Island resort would become one of the largest tourism developments in the country if the federal government gives it the green light.
Tower Holdings’ plans for the island off Rockhampton, central Queensland, include a hotel, hundreds of villas, dozens of apartments, a large marina and a golf course.
Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said all possible environmental impacts had been covered under 38 pages of conditions which the developers would have to abide by.
‘‘This decision is a major milestone to getting this new eco-tourism plan delivered,’’ he said in a statement.
The resort would create hundreds of construction jobs and once it was built about 1000 people would be employed permanently to work there, Mr Seeney said.
The project would use 3.5 per cent of the island for infrastructure compared with the eight per cent suggested in a previous plan rejected by the Commonwealth in 2009.
That plan was one of two declined by the federal government for environmental reasons.The Australian Greens have previously opposed the project, calling it a ‘‘white elephant’’ and scoffing at its eco-tourism label.
The party has been contacted for comment.
The Queensland Tourism Industry Council said the sector had been anticipating the Great Keppel Island resort for a long time.
Chief executive Daniel Gschwind said it had broad support in the local community and if it goes ahead, it would become a major attraction for Queensland.
‘‘It can leverage off what is probably Australia’s single most important national attraction, the Great Barrier Reef,’’ he said.
Mr Seeney said the previous state government had allowed the project to languish for many years and added that it had also been hindered by the Commonwealth.
Conditions for the Great Keppel resort:
- 45 per cent of island to be protected
- Buffer zones included to protect animals
- 24,000 solar panels to make it a ‘‘carbon positive’’ resort
- Dredge material to be re-used to build a breakwater
- All wastewater from resort to be recycled.
Source: Queensland government