Action against homestead confirmed

THE property owner of Cherrabah Homestead Resort and a clearing contractor were fined by the Department of Resource Management (DERM) in early 2008 for illegally clearing vegetation.

After taking almost two weeks to respond, late yesterday afternoon the department confirmed it had taken action against the homestead.

The Daily News asked DERM how many times it had investigated the resort, which is currently planning a massive expansion.

A spokeswoman said it had investigated two complaints against the owner and operator of Cherrabah.

“In 2007, the department received a report of alleged damage to cultural heritage sites,” the spokeswoman said.

“DERM officers conducted an investigation and could not find any evidence to support the allegation.

“In early 2008, the property owner, property manager and clearing contractor were fined by the department for illegally clearing vegetation.

“They were also ordered to restore the cleared area and they have met these requirements.”

While planning permission was this month granted by Southern Downs Regional council to allow the owners, which operate under the name Joyful View Garden Real Estate Ltd, to build a mega-resort almost the size of Stanthorpe at the Elbow Valley site, Federal Government is assessing the impact the development would have on quolls living in the area.

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, there is a risk the development could impact on the endangered species and Federal Government has the power to stop it in its tracks.

The developer has already submitted a report to the Commonwealth but has since been asked to provide additional information.

In one section of its submission, the developer is asked if it has a “satisfactory record of responsible environmental management,” to which the applicant says “yes”.

“The proponent has acted responsibly in engaging environmental professionals to allow for the undertaking of environmental impact assessment studies. Further, the development layout has been significantly altered to reflect the results of environmental impact assessment works,” the response reads.

The applicant is asked whether it has been subject to any proceedings under a Commonwealth, State or Territory law for the protection of the environment.

The answer given is no.

When all the information is received by Federal Government, the public will have time to comment before a decision is made.

Meanwhile local member Lawrence Springborg is pursuing the political avenue on the issue of the developer's water allocation by tabling a question in parliament to the DERM minister after an original allocation was almost doubled.

The Daily News will pursue these angles in future editions.

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