Proposed $600m Great Keppel Island eco-tourism resort project gets the green light

ONE of the biggest tourism developments in Australia, a proposed $600 million resort development on Great Keppel Island including a hotel, villas, marina and a golf course, has been approved by the Queensland Coordinator-General and the Federal Government.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney last week said the Coordinator-General's approval was a significant step forward for the project, which would be the first major new tourism project within the Great Barrier Reef in 25 years.

Mr Seeney said the proposed 12-year staged development, 12 kilometres off the Central Queensland coast at Yeppoon, would start with a 250 room hotel at Fisherman's Beach and accompanying restaurants and conference facilities.

It would also include a 250-berth marina at Putney Beach, including a yacht club and hardstand storage and about 150 marine precinct apartments, a ferry terminal and staff accommodation.

Subsequent stages of the project would include 750 villas, a further 150 apartments and a Greg Norman-designed golf course that will form part of the resort's wastewater re-use and treatment infrastructure. 

Mr Seeney said the proponent, GKI Resort Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Tower Holdings), had demonstrated that it would deploy world's best- practice environmental standards, including buffer zones to protect habitats and provide fauna corridors, the installation of more than 24,000 solar panels and recycling of all wastewater with no ocean outfall.

A 575 hectare environmental protection precinct, comprising 45 per cent of the island, would also be rehabilitated and protected in perpetuity.

"The Coordinator-General's report contains 38 pages of conditions covering all the possible impacts of the project," Mr Seeney said.

"The GKIR proposal equated to the use of only 3.5 per cent of the island for infrastructure compared to 8 per cent in a previously proposed design refused by the Federal Government in October 2009.

"The Newman Government is working to grow the state economy and provide Queenslanders with job opportunities while ensuring the protection of the Great Barrier Reef," Mr Seeney said.

The project also required Federal Government approval due to its potential impacts on nationally threatened species, listed migratory species, World and National heritage places, Commonwealth marine areas and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Federal Environment Minister today announced he has approved the proposed development, subject to 96 strict conditions to minimise its potential environmental impact, and is satisfied the project can go ahead without unacceptable impacts on matters protected under national environmental law.

"In considering this proposal I have taken into account the likely impacts on matters protected under national environment law, including measures to ensure the ongoing protection of the Great Barrier Reef" Mr Burke said, adding that the proposal has undergone a comprehensive joint assessment between the Federal environment department and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

"The conditions I have imposed will ensure that the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef is not diminished by this development," the Minister said.

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