JOBS BOOST: Fast track for $950M Gladstone project
A MASSIVE $950 million mega-resort proposed for Hummock Hill Island is now sitting in the fast-lane after an extraordinary intervention by the State Government.
The Hummock Hill Island Development, which has been in the planning approval stage for more than a decade, has been declared a 'prescribed project' by State Development Minister Anthony Lynham.
The declaration means the Coordinator-General will now have the power to overturn any decision made by Gladstone Regional Council to refuse or place restrictions on the project when it comes before the council next month.
The 456ha Hummock Hill Island project was first referred to the federal Environment Minister on January 3, 2006, and has had some form of environmental approval in place since 2012.
When complete, the project will see the island, which sits 30km south east of Gladstone, become home to about 1200 residents.
The resort is expected to include two hotels, a health spa, a residential precinct, a helipad and an airstrip.
It is estimated the project would create an average of 190 jobs each year during its 17-year construction period, and would provide a further boost to tourism and service employment in the years following.
Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher welcomed the decision and said developers Pacificus Tourism Project were keen to get started.
"There's been a lot of hurdles and hold-ups... they just want to build this thing," Mr Butcher said.
"They've spent a whole heap of money just to get it to this point... they're not cheap, these (Environmental Impact Statements).
"This could be a billion dollar project right on our doorstep."
Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett said the decision to involve the Coordinator General had come as a surprise to him, but it wouldn't make any difference as to how the council would approach next month's decision.
Cr Burnett said he was not going into the process with an opinion "one way or another" until he had seen the planning proposal - but the council did have serious concerns about the risk it would be taking on should the development go ahead.
"I've met with the developers over the years and it will be no surprise to them that the council has serious concerns about the ownership and maintenance of infrastructure," he said.
"The proposal requires a (large) bridge to the island, as well as significant road work, and... there's no water or sewerage out there at the moment.
"We want to make sure that if for some reason it falls over, we don't have a half-constructed project on our hands... we don't want to have kilometres of road network that only three people maybe living on."
Cr Burnett said the Government was entitled to declare Hummock Hill Island a prescribed project, but said the council wasn't "the party holding it up".
"It's interesting that it has gone to this stage... no one is more for big developments here than me," he said.
"(A previous) Minister was looking at it, then they changed governments and it got put on the backburner.
"And the developers have had some of these approvals for a long time... it's not like they were working ferociously every day.
"On a number of occasions the developers have asked us to hold off while they got together more information to provide to us.
"At no point in time has (the council's) planning department been holding up this project."
Cr Burnett said the Coordinator-General will travel to Gladstone on Wednesday to meet with members of the council and hear their concerns.
Mr Butcher said the decision meant regardless of who was behind the delays, the project was now more likely to go ahead quickly.
"This is how the LNG industry came to Gladstone," he said.
"It was the middle of the GFC... those projects got put in under this process and all of a sudden we had work for 15,500 people.
"The benefits from not only the construction work but the ongoing benefits of tourism... there'll be boats going out there, cruises coming in to visit. It will be massive."