Great Keppel Island Lot 21

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Great Keppel Island betrayed

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The holiday resort on Great Keppel Island was bought by Tower Holdings some years ago but after operating it for less than two years they closed the resort.   Tower now plan to redevelop the resort but not just on the old resort site, but by spreading villas and a golf course over a vast area of the island.  

Lot 21 on plan SP192569 is a recreational lease declared over 875 ha of Great Keppel Island.  It is leased to Tower Holdings and that lease expires in March 2010.   (The whole island including estuaries, wetlands and beaches is about 1450 ha. The surveyed hard area of the island is about 1140 ha.  Lot 21 represents about 77% of this area.)

Tower Holdings original proposal (Plan 1, July 2007) included three five star resorts, two 18 hole golf courses, a 500 berth Marina, a retail village, 2600 town houses and apartments, and a 2km airport across the middle of the island.   This plan was so ridiculously large that it was rejected outright by the Qld Government.

The Qld Government called for public submissions on the best future use of Lot 21.  Nearly 300 submissions were received. 97% of the submission called for the land to be declared a national or conservation park.   On 25th November 2008 the Department of Natural Resources and Water determined that the Most Appropriate Use of Lot 21 be “conservation”.    See Most Appropriate Use (MAU) Study (750KB) by DNR.

Great Keppel Island Tower Proposal 2

Plan 2
Tower Holdings then submitted a revised proposal, Plan 2, which has been listed by the State Govt as a "Significant Project".   They claim that it is a 40%  reduction on the original proposal but it still included an 18 hole golf course, 1700 resort villas, 300 apartments, and a 560 berth marina, extensions to the existing airstrip, and re-development of the existing resort.  This new proposal alienates only slightly less land than the previous proposal which was rejected in 2008 as having “unacceptable impact” on the island.

This Plan 2 was rejected by federal Environmetn minister Peter Garrett under EPBC Act on the grounds that it was "clearly unacceptable".  This action, while criticised by Tower and some of their supporters, saved the company a huge amount of money in not having to prepare an EIS for a project that was bound to be doomed.  

Capricorn Conservation Council
CCC opposes any plans for the development of Lot 21 and believes that it should be gazetted as a Conservation Park for the protection of the natural environmental aspects of the island, as well as the enjoyment of future generations.   

We consider that there is sufficient area on the other leases held by Tower for it to be redeveloped by Tower, specifically the site of the original resort.  Other than Lot 21, they hold leases over 38 ha including the 17 ha airstrip. We support the redevelopment on that site which can be done while keeping Lot 21 in natural condition.

CCC also strongly opposes the buiding of a marina at Putney Beach.  This would cause significant damage to the surrounding marine ecosystems including fringing reefs.  

We have no objection to the redevelopment of the existing resort on their existing lease area of 38 hectares, but we are opposed to development on Lot 21.  Lot 21 is leasehold public land that is owned by the people of Queensland and leased to Tower Holdings for recreational purposes on a ten year term lease.  

Great Keppel Island is a national treasure and has been declared by the Queensland government as iconic in its Iconic Queensland Places Act (2008).  Deputy Premier and then Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Paul Lucas said "These are unique areas that help define Queensland's character and local communities want to make sure they’re protected”.

“Let us hold our government to account with regard to Great Keppel Island.”

>>>> Plan 3 - back to main GKI page     also Unanswered questions about missing hectares >>

Here is Peter Garrett's press release on his rejection of Plan 2:


Environment Minister Peter Garrett has deemed a proposal for a tourist resort and facilities on Great Keppel Island clearly unacceptable under national environment law.

A decision that a project is clearly unacceptable is made when it is determined the proposal will have unacceptable impacts on nationally protected matters.

“I’ve looked closely at what’s being proposed for the island and considered my department’s recommendation, and I’ve concluded that a project of this size and density would lead to unacceptable impacts on the World Heritage and National Heritage values of the area including the Great Barrier Reef.

“The impacts on inshore coral communities, coastal wetlands, marine species, island flora and geological formations of a development of this huge scale would be simply too great—these are the very values that earned the area's world heritage status,” Mr Garrett said.

“I believe these impacts could not be lessened or managed to an acceptable level and would permanently damage and degrade these values.

“The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most precious environments and brings billions of dollars to our economy each year.

"Just last month the Government released the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report which clearly identifies climate change, catchment runoff, loss of coastal habitats and fisheries management as key challenges facing the Reef.

"That report specifically identified coastal development and the pressures placed on the wider Great Barrier Reef ecosystem as challenges that have to be carefully and rigorously managed.

“I’m certainly not opposed to appropriate development of our tourist icons, but I am responsible for ensuring that development proceeds in a manner that is consistent with our obligations to protect the World Heritage area for present and future generations to enjoy. These responsibilities are enshrined in our national environmental law, and in applying that law I have determined that this proposal would have unacceptable impacts on the very natural and heritage values that make this region so unique.

“In making my decision I also took into account a study carried last year by the Queensland EPA which recommended that the area in question be retained in an undeveloped state and designated as a Protected Area under Queensland legislation.”

“The proponent is welcome to submit an alternative proposal in the future which does not have this level of impact on those values and I would certainly welcome that.”

The GKI Resort Pty Ltd proposal includes a 300-room hotel and day spa, 1700 resort villas, 300 Resort Apartments, a 560 Berth marina and yacht club, ferry terminal, retail village, golf course and sporting oval.

It was referred to the department on 22 September 2009 to determine whether it needed to undergo the federal environmental assessment and approval process.

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