Once again plans for a cruise-ship terminal on Australia's Gold Coast have surfaced, but this time it's the world-class waves at South Stradbroke and the Spit that are under threat.
With mayor of the Gold Coast Tom Tate's recent re-election (with a 73.14 per cent majority, I might add) he's back on the hunt to deliver a cruise terminal and has South Straddie firmly in his cross-hairs.
The latest proposal out of the mayor's office is to build a 926-metre pylon terminal, stretching out into the sea to the tune of $70 million on the northern tip of the The Spit. At the end of which, a rockwall island is planned specifically for blocking swell from filling in and protecting landing ships.
Although plans are in the early days, opposition is already not-so-quietly mounting amidst fears the terminal could permanently spoil a jewel in the Gold Coast crown. There's also the fact that as part of Tate's plan, a sewage pipe discharging treated wastewater could run underneath the pier.
The Gold Coast doesn't have a north and south surf community, we are all one and the surf breaks are all part of that community and part of that history
A group on Facebook has been set up to oppose the plans. Save our Spit has gathered support from more than 11,000 people. According to the group: ''The TOS (ie south Straddie) surf break faces a significant and strong new threat under this new plan for a cruise terminal breakwall to be built.'' The group claims the plans are a bid to snap-up public land for development - a concern that has been echoed throughout the cruise-ship terminal's 15-or-so years in the pipeline.
''The negative environmental, economic, social and cultural effects of such developments would impact heavily on a vast number of Gold Coast residents and visitors alike, and threaten the loss of public parks and pristine recreational spaces both on land and in the water. The Gold Coast doesn't have a north and south surf community, we are all one and the surf breaks are all part of that community and part of that history.''
A stretch of the Gold Coast, from Burleigh Heads to Snapper, has been classified as a World Surf Reserve, just the eighth spot on the face of the Earth to bear the accolade, but both The Spit and South Straddie fall outside of that protection area.
You might recall a few years back when Kirra was the subject of a Tate-helmed cruise terminal plan. Had it gone ahead, that Gold Coast cranker would have been ruined. But, as you know, because Kirra's still pumping - that didn't go down too well. Back then, Tate took it upon himself to dismiss the opinion of three-time world champ and one of the Gold Coast's favourite sons Mick Fanning, who spoke against the terminal, with Tate saying he'd wait for experts to comment on it instead - you can imagine the backlash.
In 2011, a Gold Coast City Council report found the surfing industry was worth $3.3 billion to the local community and responsible for more than 21,000 full-time jobs. A threat to one of the Goldy's premier surf breaks is sure to have an impact on those figures.
Of course, there's the other-side of that as well. Tate claims that adding a cruise terminal to the city will boost the economy by $20-30 million by bringing in around 140,000 new tourists a year. With those stats, that's each one of those tourists spending $214.29 AUD – if it's to reach the upper limit of that estimate. Do-able? Maybe. Worth destroying a world-class wave for? Nope. And no, it's not viable to say 'just go and surf somewhere else and everyone benefits' – we know who you are.
Magicseaweed contacted the office of Tom Tate for a response about concerns over South Straddie. But a spokesman would not comment specifically on the impact the terminal would have on the wave until an Environmental Impact Survey (EIS) had been completed – saying the concerns were all speculative until that report is published.
Tom Tate's spokesman also told Magicseaweed that Tate's ''ensured the surfing community has had a voice in the future of this important recreational and professional activity [surfing]'' after making sure the ''Kirra Groyne extension became a reality'' and delivering a Surf Management Plan.''
About the proposal, a spokesman on behalf of Tate went on to add: ''My latest proposal for a combined waste water pipe/offshore cruise ship terminal utilising the existing sand pumping jetty could potentially save ratepayers around $100 million given the current estimates for a new waste water treatment system and offshore pipe is at least $300 million.
"Council will undertake initial investigations into this combined solution before we even consider undertaking an Environmental Impact Study. I make this commitment - if the Environmental Impact Study did not support such a facility, I will be the first councillor to say no to the proposal."
The cruise-ship terminal saga - scaled-down
There's alot to condense from 15-years in the making, but here's some of the important points;
2001; businesses lobbied the Beattie government to consider building a cruise-ship terminal in an attempt to boost the economy.
2002; Southport Chamber of Commerce drives forward the initial push with some support from government.
2006; Debate ongoing but plans solidified to develop parcels of state-controlled land. Community campaign against the plan gathers momentum – forcing the government to shut down plans.
2012; Plans resurface on April 27, the eve of the council elections. Mayor Tom Tate backed plans to build a terminal at The Spit. Opposition rises.
2012; Singapore company Sembawang announced a $4.9 billion plan to build a terminal on Wavebreak Island. They later pulled out in 2012 before the Newman government announced plans for the Broadwater Marine Project. ASF construction shortlisted as the developer – but this was suspended.
October 2012; Leda Holdings announce plans for building a $2 billion terminal at Kirra.
2013; High profile opposition from surfers including Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson.
2014; Kirra plan scrapped.
March 2016; Burleigh Heads to Snapper officially named World Surf Reserves.
March 2016; Tom Tate relaunches plans for terminal at South Straddie and The Spit.