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    From sugar cane fields to $8 billion resort: public invited to comment on proposal

    Nathan Johnson

    The public has been invited to comment on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed $8.15 billion Aquis Resort at Yorkey’s Knob near Cairns.

    In a Queensland (QLD) first, the public are granted access to an innovative online consultation tool, ‘Citizen Space’, to navigate through the EIS and give feedback on the project.

    The proposed Aquis project is planned for a 343 hectare site 13 kilometres from Cairns, most of which is currently used for growing sugar cane.

    The project is part of a QLD Government stimulus initiative announced in October 2013 by Premier Cambell Newman. Newman appealed to the private sector for designs of new integrated resorts for the state of QLD and primarily asked for ‘expressions of interest’ from developers. 

    From the shortlist of expressions of interest came the ‘Great Barrier Reef’ Resort development from Aquis, who was then requested to submit an EIS before further detailed planning and construction could begin.

    The QLD Government offered a gaming licence incentive to developers in order to encourage the provision of world-class integrated resorts in regional Queensland.

    Applicants paid a fee of $100,000 just to have their proposals considered.

    The Aquis proposal includes 7,500 hotel rooms, a convention and exhibition centre, and entertainment facilities including theatres, gaming facilities, an artificial lake, a lagoon, golf course and sports centre.

    Above: Front view of the new render for the Aquis Resort.
    Below: The render in Sky view.  Images: Cairns Post

    Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney says the release of the proponent’s EIS for public feedback was an important step in the environmental assessment of this proposed development.

    “The Terms of Reference for the EIS required the proponent provide a comprehensive impact assessment on surface and groundwater quality, marine water quality impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, flooding and storm tide inundation, social and economic concerns, and local infrastructure.”

    The development is proposed to be delivered over two stages:

    Stage 1:

    • $5.5 billion cost
    • 3750 construction jobs
    • An artificial lake and island within the development site
    • A casino
    • 5 hotels including 4000 rooms
    • Additional facilities including: retail shopping; an aquarium; a theatre; a reef lagoon; an outdoor sport and recreation facility including an 18-hole golf course; a convention and exhibition centre; and a cultural heritage centre

    Stage 2:

    • $3.1 billion cost
    • 3500 construction jobs
    • 3 additional hotels including 3500 rooms
    • A second casino
    • Additional facilities including: an additional theatre; retail shopping; and a rainforest

    The QLD government says that following the public consultation phase, the EIS submissions will be evaluated by the Coordinator-General who will then prepare an evaluation report that addresses all the potential impacts of the project.

    The Coordinator-General consultation is set to occur from 21 June until 5 August 2014.

    Have your say on the project here:

     

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