Resort centre of clearing allegation

ALLEGATIONS of illegal vegetation clearing at the Cherrabah Resort east of Warwick are being investigated by the Southern Downs Regional Council, a spokeswoman confirmed yesterday.

While the federal government prepares to put environment submissions on a massive planned expansion of Cherrabah under the spotlight, council officers are due to inspect the resort on Monday.

The resort was previously fined for illegal tree clearing in 2008, with the new claims understood to relate to work allegedly done in preparation for a re-vamped golf course.

The course would form part of a Cherrabah "mini city", housing up to 2000 permanent residents and 2000 tourists at a time, along with five star motels, conference venues, retail shops and luxury villas.

But federal environmental laws could quash the plan - approved by the council with conditions - altogether, with the rare spotted-tail quoll on the site triggering an assessment by Canberra.

The council spokeswoman said they were "aware of the allegation of unauthorised development work at Cherrabah", and said its officers would visit the resort on Monday.

"The resort does have existing use rights, but the area the alleged tree clearing is occurring in has to be established before any action can be taken if necessary," she said.

A spokeswoman for consultants Urbis - engaged by Cherrabah's Chinese owners the Joyful View Garden Real Estate Company - this week said seven submissions had been made to Canberra from the public and wildlife groups about environmental issues such as the quolls.

The Urbis spokeswoman said their "technical team" was assessing the submissions and would prepare a report for the Federal Department of Sustainability and Environment.

"It is hoped this will happen in the next two to three months," she said.

"Following this, the department will consider and assess the application - including the submissions made - and prepare a final recommendation report to the minister.

"A decision will then be made to approve or not approve, or approve with conditions, within 20 business days of the minister's receipt of the final report."

She said a timeframe on a final federal decision on Cherrabah was unclear due to the complexity of the submissions and expansion plan.

No Joyful View Garden spokesperson was available for comment on the clearing claims yesterday.

Topics:  australian government, cherrabah resort, development, envrionment, illegal clearing, southern downs regional council



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