Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Decision Puts Turtles at Risk

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Decision Puts Turtles at Risk

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Hoffman

TURTLES were doomed to become extinct on Sunshine Coast beaches unless there was concerted effort to protect habitat, according to Leigh Warneminde of the award-winning Coolum and Northshore Coastcare.

She has called for changes to State Government laws to protect significant genetic populations of endangered and threatened turtle species.

Her warning comes in the wake of Sunshine Coast Council approving a contentious Buddina high-rise development despite concern about its impact on a prominent loggerhead and green turtle nesting beach. Before the decision, every councillor and the mayor was provided independent town planning advice that was clear conditions proposed over the approval to mitigate impacts on turtles were probably unlawful.

The independent advice said "turtle friendly lighting" did not exist and that all available critical nesting data which identified Buddina as one of the most significant nesting beaches on the Sunshine Coast had not been used.

"There is inadequate information available to council to impose lawful conditions which achieve compliance with relevant assessment benchmarks," the advice stated.

Councillors voted in favour of the development 6-5.

Friends of Buddina now plans a public meeting to test the appetite for a court or other challenge to the decision.

Spokeswoman Tracey Goodwin-McDonald said conditions imposed under the approval were "fanciful" and "ultimately unenforceable".

They include that the unit development's 73 units have outside lights turned off and blinds drawn for seven months of the year.

Ms Goodwin-McDonald said the condition referred to windows facing the beach, but there were none, only sliding doors.

She said while the development application was code assessable, it and other developments like it didn't comply. …

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