What you can do to Save False Cape?

Form Letter

Dear supporter,

The iconic green backdrop to Cairns that stretches from Trinity Inlet out to False Cape is being threatened by a major residential/tourism development.  CAFNEC has a number of concerns regarding this development proposal (see below).

One of the most effective ways to counter such proposals is to rally as many people as possible who are concerned about protecting our precious environment to engage in a letter writing campaign to media and politicians. The more letters that are written the better of course – letters from individuals actually do count a fair bit due to the fact that most people don’t bother to pick up a pen and write in.

Feel free to use the following points to draft letters to the media and or politicians.  Contact details are at the end of this list.  I you need any more information feel free to contact me at CAFNEC on 40321 746 Mondays to Thursdays. 

Thank you for your help on this important issue!!

John Rainbird.

Development  - Reef Cove Resort:

  • 102 lots, 2 super lots, 5 lots for medium density, 222 room hotel/resort, commercial area. Will be up to 1500 people living on the site when built.
  • No specific plans for any of the development because Reef Cove is only setting up the subdivision arrangements, building the roads and infrastructure, and selling the land on to others to develop.
  • Price of lots between $375,000 - $2,000,000 when advertised.
  • Currently awaiting approval by Cth Minister under EPBC Act. Minister must consider ecological sustainable development, economic and social matters, and all other relevant matters to impacts on World Heritage Values, threatened species and migratory species. Must add in accordance with precautionary principle. Cairns City Council are assessing reports from the developer at present – if all OK they will issue an operational works permit.  Work on site can begin once this and the Federal approvals are given.

Issues to address:


The developer will have little or no control over how the development proceeds as he is only putting in basic infrastructure and then selling off the subdivided land. As such we do not see how he can promise a gallery and employment to local Yarrabah people, a development free of domestic animals, strict control over clearing on house blocks, buildings designed to blend into the environment, proper fire management to maintain fire dependant vegetation ‘of concern’ communities and  protection of residents from rock fall and land slippage.  These responsibilities have been discharged largely to the Cairns City Council, who has neither the legal basis nor, we would argue, the political will to implement many of them.

Other Planning issues:

Developer relying on Cairns City Council approval as sufficient. Cairns City Council approval inconsistent with Hillslope Development Control Plan, City image Plan re visual amenity and Tourism Strategy. Despite this and concerns outlined above the Council still approved it with minimal conditions. Concerns about whether will enforce adequately the approval.

If this development proceeds it will be harder to prevent more large scale development proceeding along this coast back towards Trinity Inlet. This will renew pressure for a bridge across the Inlet and development of the East Trinity wetlands.  This will move Cairns closer to becoming just another city that failed to constrain development on unique culturally and environmentally significant coastlines immediately adjoining the city centre.

Visual amenity:

The developer has stated the development (222 key resort, resort village, townhouses and 123 residential lots), will have little aesthetic impact.  We fail to see how this is possible given this is largely a relatively high density hillslopes development   This area is one of the single most significant stretches of coastline in relation to providing a green unspoilt backdrop between two world heritage areas in the most important entry point to the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet tropics Rainforests. As such its aesthetic values cannot be underestimated.  It features in numerous postcards and advertisement which portray the green backdrop to the city.  This new development will be visible from the Esplanade, the northern Beaches, Rex lookout , incoming flights and boats leaving Cairns to visit Fitzroy Island and the reef.

Environmental considerations:

The site adjoins a fish habitat area, the Marlin coast Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef world heritage property.  The waters contains seagrass beds important to both turtle and dugong. Due to the lack of any buffer between the development and the shoreline, control of erosion and general runoff of contaminants from earthworks and habitation into the marine area will be difficult if not impossible to control.

The site contains 4 unique coastal vegetation communities. The coastal woodlands rely on fire to prevent rainforest taking over. The fire regime required to ensure the survival of these communities is incompatible with a residential/resort development.

The area is mapped as both general and critical cassowary habitat.  Although cassowaries do not permanently inhabit the site, the area would provide seasonal foraging and possible foraging in times of food scarcity. Cassowaries are an endangered species who cannot afford to be constantly losing more of their already diminished habitat to inappropriate developments.

The site is home to the endangered Greater Large-eared Horseshoe bat. Other listed species which potentially use the site include the northern Quoll,  Lace-eyed Frog, Red Goshawk. Spectacled Flying-fox and southern Cassowary both known to use the site and are a major part of WH values.

Others include rare bats, microchroptera, false water rat, fawn-footed melomys, giant white tailed rat, major skink,

Limited surveys done of threatened species

Plans show only 20 large trees retained on the site.

Conflicts with Vegetation Management Act 1999 and relevant Codes by  allowing clearing in of concern area of vegetation and on hillslope with erosion issues

Cairns City Council unlikely to approve trucking sewage for two years until a pipeline is built.

Development will put demands on limited water resources in that area.

Effect on World Heritage Values:

  • Situated between Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area, and Wet Tropics World Heritage area. Both include “exceptional coastal scenery combines tropical rainforest, white sandy beaches and fringing reefs offshore” (WTWHA Values), and “interconnections with Wet Tropics via coastal interface”.
  • Backdrop to Cairns and significant coastal scenery as entry point to GBRWHA for hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
  • Cairns City Council planners conceded that developer not yet demonstrated how proposed development can be undertaken without minimal impact on scenic quality of site as detailed engineering design is yet to be undertaken. They also said that the site is highly visible to both local residents and tourists and the development proposed was inconsistent with existing development at Bessie Point and Second Beach.
  • Wet Tropical Coast Regional Coastal Management Plan states that new developments in the area should not increase visual impact and should be screened and complementary to landscape. (this is an issue to raise with the State as no compliance with this policy)
  • False Cape should be nominated for natural heritage listing because of its importance to the Region and as a backdrop to Cairns.

Safety concerns

Cairns City Council have ignored their own hillslopes development codes to allow building to occur on slopes of 1:2 for approximately half of this development.  Development is not meant to proceed on slopes this steep because slopes steeper than 1:3 are generally considered unstable for building upon.  It is unprecedented in this region that this density of development is being allowed on this gradient.

The slopes consist of eroded granite and contain numerous large boulders.  Logic would dictate the area has a high hazard potential given the combination of steep eroded granite slopes, numerous boulders, extreme rainfall and the cyclone potential of this region.  It is possible the imposition of buildings, roads and other infrastructure could further compromise the stability of this hill side.

The site contains important Indigenous and European cultural values and artefacts above and beyond the WWII gun housings.  False Cape in fact was named by Captain Cook.

Feasible alternative development proposals (e.g. East Trinity Wetland Park) exist for this side of the inlet that would help provide better employment opportunities for locals whilst protecting and enhancing the natural and cultural values of the area.

Better alternative uses of area eg Eco-tourism particularly walking tracks and tourist attraction for coastal area.

The Wet Tropical Coast Regional Coastal Management Plan states for this area:  The clearing of native vegetation is managed to minimise erosion and adverse impacts on the water quality of Trinity Inlet and maintain biodiversity; Scenic values and water quality are maintained through the rehabilitation of habitat and riparian vegetation; The natural, historic and Indigenous Traditional Owner cultural and scenic values at False Cape are conserved and adequately considered in any development proposal of the site.

The Role of Commonwealth

  • Idea behind EPBC was to ensure national protection measures to ensure equivalent environmental protection in all States and particularly to safeguard against development such as this that have not undertaken uniform environmental checks through state processes because of old approval. Issues of relevance to the Feds are threatened species, migratory species, impacts on world heritage values, social/ economic issues and feasible alternatives.  The minister is due to make a decision any day now on this issue, but may delay doing so for sometime due to a backlog of assessments at DEH.

The Role of State:

  • Can provide information to the Cth Minister during State interest check under EPBC Act to outline any concerns . State has jurisdiction over protection of native wildlife, species listed at the State level as rare, threatened etc, vegetation clearing, coastal ecosystems, coastal marine issues, erosion, safety (State Planning Policy on Mitigating Impacts of Bushfires, Flooding and Landslides 2003), sewage.

Who to write to:

Federal Politicans

The Hon Ian Gordon Campbell,

Minister for the Environment and Heritage

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600


08 9325 4227   08 9421 1755

1300 301 728

08 9325 6857   08 9325 7906

The Hon W. G. Entsch MP

Member for Leichhardt

(Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources)

PO Box 2794 Cairns, Qld 4870


(07) 4051 2220

(07) 4031 1592

Senator Jan McLucas

PO Box 2733, Cairns, QLD 4870


(07) 4031 6009

1300 301 959

(07) 4031 6167

State Politicians

The Hon Warren Pitt

Member for Mulgrave

Minister for Communities, Disability Services and Seniors

PO Box 314, Gordonvale Qld, 4865


(07) 4056 3175

(07) 4056 3340

The Hon Ms Desley Boyle

Member for Cairns

Minister for the Environment, Local Government & Planning & Women

PO Box 1259 Cairns Qld, 4870 (Cairns MP address)

PO Box 31, Brisbane Qld 4001 (Ministerial address)


(07) 4051 2868

(07) 4051 6760


The Cairns Post - Letters section


PO Box 126, Cairns, 4870


The Cairns Post - Editor


4052 6641

4052 6633

Cairns Sun


4046 3813

4046 3801

Mon pm


Cooktown Local News


4069 5785

4069 5773

Tues pm




4053 3654, 0413 083 020

4053 3923

Endeavour News

4042 1306

4042 1290


Eacham Times


4096 5795

As tel

4pm Thurs

Innisfail Advocate


4061 5800

4061 5888

Tue, Fri, Sat

The Kuranda Paper


4093 0291

4093 0169


last Thu of month

Marlin Coast Community News

4038 1644

Millstream Times (Ravenshoe)

4097 6745

4097 6745

Peninsula News


4046 6764

4046 6764


Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette


4099 8551

4099 8544

Tue 4pm




4091 1977

4091 2913

Fri pm


Tablelands Advertiser


4092 8940

4092 8999

Mon pm


Torres News


4069 1531

4069 1561

Tue 1pm


Tropical Coast Regional News

4068 0888

4068 0889

Fortnightly (Kurrimine Beach – Cardwell)

Tropical North Mag.

4034 1971

4034 1971

Tully Times


4068 1611

4068 2465

5pm Tues


Weipa Bulletin


4069 7722

4069 7022



Yarrabah News

4056 9120

4056 9167


Principal information sources for this document were the proponent’s Public Environment Report (HLA-Envirosciences 2004), and submissions to the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage made by the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC 2005) and the Save Our Slopes Community Action Group (SOS 2005).

CAFNEC (2005)  Submission on Public Environment Report for Reef Cove Resort at False Cape.   Submission prepared by the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC), Cairns.

Commonwealth of Australia (2006)  Landslide Database Online Search.  Geoscience Australia.  URL:  www.ga.gov.au/oracle/landslid/landsl_online.jsp

Duncan, A, Baker, G.B. and Montgomery, N. (editors) (1999)  The Action Plan for Australian Bats.  Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia.

Granger, K., Jones, T., Leiba, M. and Scott, G. (1999)  Community Risk in Cairns.  A multi-hazard risk assessment.   Cities Project, Australian Geological Survey Organisation, Canberra.

HLA-Envirosciences Pty Ltd (2004)  Public Environment Report.  Reef Cove Resort, Cairns.  Report for Starline Australia Holdings by HLA-Envirosciences, Brisbane.

Natural Resource Assessments (2003)  False Cape Fauna Inventory. Report for HLA-Envirosciences by Natural Resource Assessments Pty Ltd, Cairns.

Queensland Government (2003)  State Planning Policy 1/03.  Mitigating the Adverse Impacts of Flood, Bushfire and Landslide.  Prepared by the Department of Local Government and Planning, and the Department of Emergency Services.

SOS (2005)  Submission on the ‘Public Environment Report Reef Cove Resort, Cairns’. Revision 3, January 2005.   Submission prepared by the SOS Community Action Group, Cairns.

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