Tue, Apr 15, 6:58pm by Dominic Ciconte
WILL it be harmful to the environment or not?
That’s the question now dividing local communities along the Great Barrier Reef in North Queensland, where the proposed $8 billion Aquis casino resort will be built.
The answer to the question could decide the fate of the casino.
This week the developers of the resort strongly denied any damage would be done to the environment, stating to the Federal Department of the Environment this week that the impact on its natural surroundings would be “insignificant”.
Environmental groups have argued with that statement, pointing out that the huge resort could disturb a delicate floodplain, increasing the risk of flooding, and potentially leading to pollution of the Great Barrier Reef.
There are concerns about the sheer size of the $8 billion project, which Aquis guarantees will be “Australia’s only genuine, world-class, integrated resort” and the effects its construction will have on the delicate eco-system surrounding it.
If it receives Government approval, the 340-hectare complex will be built on the coastal town of Yorkeys Knob and include two casinos, eight hotel towers with accommodation for up to 12,000 guests, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and a giant artificial lake, with water supplied by the nearby reef through a pipeline over a mile long. It has already been billed as a potential man-made wonder of the world.
Financing the project is Hong Kong businessman Tony Fung, a famous Billionaire known as ‘the bad boy of the stock market’. Fong recently purchased the Reef Foundation Trust, the company that operates the Cairns Casino and is eager to begin this North Queensland project quickly. Fung has threatened to take his plans elsewhere if he is stopped.
The pressure is on the QLD Government to act quickly. The project would be an absolute boon for the local economy and generate thousands of jobs.
Despite that pressure, Jon Nott, professor at the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Sciences at James Cook University, told CasinoOrg that gaining planning permission won’t be an easy feat.
“There is a reason nothing has been built in that area before,” he said.
“The proposed development is located on the Barron River delta, which floods regularly and is also prone to storm surges from the ocean during tropical cyclones. They are proposing to raise the levels of the project, but it is based on outdated methodology.”
Andrew Picone of the Australian Conservation Foundation also expressed his concerns.
“The environment there is already a floodplain, it is prone to flooding even without the creation of artificial lakes. With climate change and rising sea levels, massive developments like this in storm surge zones put the environment at risk and put lives at risk, too.”
AustralianGambling will keep an eye on this space.
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