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12 September, 2020

Opposition to a Daintree River bridge grows

A “Save the Daintree, Again” campaign is being launched by a coalition of local and national conservation groups who see the push for a bridge over the Daintree River, coastal road upgrade and reticulated electricity as a threat to the areas’ Outstanding Universal Values, the foundation of its World Heritage Listing.

The bridge is part of a broader push primarily by local Federal member Warren Entsch, Cook Shire Council and local vested interests to build a main road to Cooktown along the coast and  through the Daintree rainforest, and to install an electricity grid in the rainforest. 

“We are appalled that Douglas Shire Council (DSC) and the Australian Government appear to be prepared to invest huge sums of money to drive development on the Daintree Coast for the benefit of its 600 residents, scattered over 40 kilometres of coastline, while committing no resources to the conservation and presentation of an international conservation and economic icon,” said Didge McDonald, President of Douglas Shire Sustainability Group (DSSG), Douglas Shire’s conservation lobby group.

The Douglas Shire Sustainability Group also criticised Council for preparing an options paper that looks only at the cost of the cheapest possible low-level bridge with no environmental, economic or social impact assessment and no overall cost benefit analysis.

“A second round of the Bloomfield Road Blockade, that led to World Heritage listing in the 80’s, needs to be seriously considered.

A coalition of conservation groups wrote to both state and Federal Governments last week expressing concern that the combination of a bridge, road upgrades and grid electricity will lead to an “In Danger” listing of the entire Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. 

To date they have not received a reply.

Over 25,000 people have already signed a “Save the Daintree, Again” petition.

“By trashing the environment, the local Council is doing the same to the tourism industry.

“The conservation sector in Douglas has always supported tourism. Both sectors share the values of the stunning environment which is Douglas. 

“In Douglas, the environment is the economy.

“How can the local Council ignore the views of the rest of Australia and the world when we are dealing with a World Heritage Area?

“How can the new Council legitimately continue to claim to be the world’s first ‘Ecotourism-Accredited Destination’ founded on the last 30 years of a pro-conservation Council and industry partnership?” Mr McDonald said. 

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