Flying foxes in a tree at the library on the corner of Lake and Aplin streets will have to find a new home if a hotel is built on the land they currently live on.
January 9, 2017
CAIRNS MP Rob Pyne has backed an “ambitious” plan for the State Government to buy back a block of land in the city centre to turn it into a haven for flying foxes.
More than 160 people have signed a petition requesting the government reaquire the block of land in Cairns’ city centre that is to be developed into a major hotel by the GA Group.
The company, owned by Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud, received approval from Cairns Regional Council last month to develop the vacant land on the crossroad of Abbott, Aplin and Lake streets into a $100 million hotel and apartment complex.
Construction is hoped to begin in coming weeks with the project to be completed by early 2019.
Environmental Defenders Office North Queensland treasurer Brynn Mathews said the proposed development posed an imminent threat to the long term viability of the nationally important spectacled flying fox camp centred on the Cairns library.
Mr Mathews wants the block of land, the former site of Cairns Central School, replanted as a park and used as a secure and expanded roost area for flying foxes.
“At the end of the day, this was state land, so there’s no reason why it can’t be state land again,” he said.
“If it was resumed as state land, it would be under the control of the council, along with all of the other parklands in the area.”
Mr Pyne, who has sponsored the petition, said he supported the “ambitious” proposal.
“What worries me, is if this development goes ahead, where do those flying foxes move to?” he said.
He said the hotel and apartment complex project was a tricky issue.
“We all want to see more construction and more jobs in the city,” he said.
“I just think that location there would be an asset if it remained in public ownership.
“It used to be the old Cairns Central School site and I think it is a locally significant piece of land and I think keeping it as green space would complement the aquarium development.”