At its heart, the BlueCare development saga at Sunrise Beach is the story of a cynical developer, an enraged community, a Council trying to dig itself out of an amalgamation-period hole…and a steady leak in Noosa’s environment reputation.
Let’s bring you up to date, and – as always – suggest a way forward.
The Sunshine Coast Regional Council, in 2008, agreed to sell the development site at Grasstree Court Sunrise Beach to BlueCare, apparently because of a need for a residential aged care facility in the area.
As long ago as 2008, BlueCare was aware of the impact of the development on the Glossy Black Cockatoo food trees and agreed as a condition of the 2011 development approval (DA) to a Vegetation Clearing Offset program to be undertaken to “re-establish the habitat to be cleared from the site”. The new habitat was to be re-established at a nearby location.
The habitat BlueCare intended to clear was all 37 feed trees from Lot 6 (the Aged Care home) and all 34 feed trees on Lot 9 (the “Retirement Living” development). Responding to community pressure, they may now retain 11 trees but more likely only a habitat of 5 and a few isolated trees after construction of the Aged Care home.
Only 4 trees on Lot 9 (the retirement estate) are proposed to be retained, and these could only be described as isolated trees…not a habitat.
If you were genuine about trying to “re-establish the habitat” you would not wait until 2018 to identify the feed trees to be cleared before starting to germinate the seeds to plant.
BlueCare seemed not to have paid much attention to its expert advice which suggested the trees would only be 2 metres tall in 5 years and still years from becoming feed trees or re-established habitat.
BlueCare also assumed the nearby location – a former dump site – would be suitable, only to find out in 2022 that the site is contaminated and unsuitable.
So Lot 6 is now cleared for the large Aged Care facility, while the seedlings to “re-establish the habitat” were only planted in 2021.
Now BlueCare wants to clear Lot 9 for the Retirement Village but because the receiving site is now unavailable, Lot 9 cannot be cleared under the terms of the DA.
BlueCare is also running out of time to start stage 2 on Lot 9 and will need to apply to amend the DA.
Another receiving site, even if one could be found, would not allow BlueCare to “re-establish the habitat”. It has had since 2011 to do that and failed.
BlueCare could seek to have the offset condition waived, which would result in a major change and would attract significant community objection. A Waiver would totally destroy the habitat with no replacement, to the detriment of the threatened Glossy Blacks.
BlueCare have done almost nothing on the site to avoid or mitigate the impact on the habitat which they wish to clear, and they depend significantly on the offset.
BlueCare could also seek to make a financial contribution as an alternative but what is an appropriate price payable for removal of the entire habitat of a threatened species?
- How do you put a dollar cost on removing a vital food source for a threatened species?
- How do you put a dollar cost on Noosa’s reputation?
This would also be a major change from the 2011 DA and totally unacceptable to the community.
While BlueCare has delayed implementing the 2011 DA to suit its financial priorities, the law and the world has moved on. The community need for the development that may have existed in 2011 has evaporated and been replaced with other priorities.
The Noosa community does not need another Retirement Village to cater for over 65 retirees.
Noosa needs accommodation for workers and their families near to where they work. Even BlueCare’s low paid Residential Aged Care workers will need reasonably priced accommodation.
BlueCare needs to reassess its priorities and consult with Council about a more appropriate use of the site which will protect the remaining Glossy Black cockatoo habitat and improve the well-being of residents.
Is BlueCare truly a charitable organisation or simply another developer with its focus firmly on profit?