Resort project approved

Environmental and flood concerns have led to council officers recommending that a plan for a proposed $80 million six-star lakeside resort be rejected.
Environmental and flood concerns have led to council officers recommending that a plan for a proposed $80 million six-star lakeside resort be rejected.

UPDATED

WELLINGTON Shire councillors approved a planning permit to develop a six-star resort on the southern side of Lake Wellington.

This was despite a council officer's recommendation that the application be rejection based on objections from West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

For more read Friday's Gippsland Times.

Original story:

A PROPOSED $80 million six-star resort on the southern side of Lake Wellington is likely to be knocked back by Wellington Shire Council when it meets tonight.

A recommendation will be made by a council officer to refuse a planning permit to build the ambitious hotel complex west of Seacombe.

The refusal was recommended based on objections from the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

The 'Nunduk' project, Gunaikurnai for "the bark of a tree" - was to be located on a 2480 hectare sheep farm.

Built on 9.7ha, the complex would have included 36 luxury rooms in the main hotel, 45 rooms in villa units, as well as restaurants, spas, treatment rooms and galleries.

The developers proposed on-site water and sewerage treatment and servicing through renewable energy.

The complex would have accommodated a maximum of 162 guests, with 80 to 120 staff employed.

The application was referred to various government and utilities agencies, with only the catchment management authority and DELWP objecting because of the potential risk of flooding, the proposed removal of 9ha of native vegetation and the effect on wildlife.

Council officers believed these concerns outweighed the potential significant economic and social benefits of the development.

The two agencies preferred to see the development outside a floodway and in an area that avoided vegetation removal.

DELWP submitted that "the key option to avoid these impacts would be to relocate the development to better avoid the removal of native vegetation".

The applicant did not wish to move the development, claiming appropriate permit conditions could adequately mitigate minor environmental effects.

The applicant also said the development could not avoid land subject to coastal hazards, but had been carefully designed to respond to them.

If the development went ahead, floor levels would need to be 30 centimetres above the flood level.

The applicant claimed permit conditions could be used to require flood response plans be submitted in the future, but council did not consider that "an orderly planning outcome" in the context of future climate change risk.

Based on the amount of native vegetation which could be removed, DELWP believed many species were likely to have habitat affected.

"This includes two critically endangered birds, five endangered birds, 10 vulnerable birds and seven rare plants," DELWP submitted.

"The impact on habitat for rare or threatened species is assessed as high."

If the application is refused tonight, the developers have the right to appeal the decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

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