In the news: Developer pushes back on Point Grey Marina

CREDIT : Katie McDonald, Business News

Tian An Australia says it is committed to progressing its 300-berth marina despite the Shire of Murray rejecting its proposal late last month, with the developer claiming the shire has taken “unorthodox action” in regards to a planning amendment.

The proposed development sits on 275 hectares on the banks of the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary, and plans to offer more than 3,000 new home sites as well as a school, retail and tourist facilities, in addition to the marina.

The Shire of Murray labelled the Point Grey marina “unsuitable” after assessing the current planning framework for the development, citing environmental concerns and financial risks in relation to ongoing maintenance and asset replacement of public infrastructure.

The verdict follows the introduction of a town planning scheme amendment at a council meeting in March, which sought to change permissible uses under the area’s zoning to remove ‘marina’.

Tian An Australia chief operating officer Hai-Young Lu said the company was disappointed by the Shire of Murray’s recent actions regarding Point Grey.

“The council’s attempts to initiate an amendment to the shire’s local planning scheme to subvert the existing approvals process was made as part of a confidential item without any prior consultation or notification to the owner as to its intentions,” he said.

“This is despite the impact that such an amendment would have on the Point Grey project and the local community and the precedent it may set for other councils across the state.

“The shire’s unorthodox action appears also to have been made without any prior consultation with any state agency or public authority.”

Mr Lu said the project had been consistently environmentally assessed since 2012, with the most recent assessment by the EPA and the environment minister in 2018, which included a further public review of any potential marina construction impacts.

It’s understood some of the environmental risks cited by the Shire of Murray councillors in their latest verdict were based on findings from the Australian Research Council Linkage Program, which pointed to the declining health of the Peel Harvey Estuary and waterways.

The community has reportedly raised concerns over the health of the estuary and whether maintenance costs would fall on ratepayers.

Mr Lu said the area’s historical context needed to be considered when referring to the Point Grey estuary being in ‘poor health’.

“Prior to the construction of the Dawesville Channel, the estuary was in decline with residents and visitors unable to fish or swim due to algal blooms and poor water quality,” he said.

“Post construction of the channel, the estuary is in far better health with algal outbreaks relatively rare and tending to occur at the river mouths at distant areas of the estuary mostly due to poor water exchange and cattle grazing at the broader catchments.

“It is the nutrient loads from the larger catchment that drive water quality issues in the estuary rather than the marina proposed as part of the development of Point Grey.”

The company said it was committed to working with the community and the council in order to develop Point Grey in a responsible and environmentally sustainable manner, and that it welcomed input and comment from community members and stakeholders as the process evolves.

Mr Lu said the project would also inject millions of dollars into the local economy, providing future employment for thousands of local residents: 4,000 jobs during construction and a further anticipated 1,400 jobs thereafter.

“As a company, we are committed to a best practice approach which includes constant evaluation and updating of our processes and practices and ongoing estuarine water quality monitoring and reporting, waterbird monitoring and sediment assessments to ensure we adhere to the highest possible standards,” he said.

“At present we are working on preparing an activity centre plan to allow our development application to progress to the next stage, which will be assessed and determined based on its technical merits.

“While we are surprised by the shire’s unorthodox approach, we are far from deterred by it and will continue to work with our key stakeholders to enable us to move forward and deliver Peel residents a development that has the future needs of the community front of mind.”

This article was originally published on Business News on May 6, 2020.