eurekaflagA crescendo of public dissent has been blamed for the abandonment of an ambitious $70 million Islamic school project at Mareeba.

This week real estate sources said the 96 acre property purchased by the Standard Bearers Academy to establish a 1200 student Islamic boarding school had been placed back on the market.

Spokesman Alan Webb, for the protest group Estop Islamic School Mareeba (EISM) that was borne out of a large public meeting two weeks ago, said the combination of a Facebook page, meetings and hostile media stories had proven too tough for the SBA.

“The people of Mareeba simply did not want this school, even though it has been promoted as a multi-faith school, the main part of its curriculum is the Islamic world view,” Mr Webb said.

“There are also significant and costly town planning problems such as a lack of any facilities at the site, which is virtually a flood plain.

“There is no sewerage available, no drinking water or any water for that matter and the sheer scale of the school would have presented enormous local traffic and social problems for the town.

Dylan Chown
Dylan Chown

Education spokesman for the school, Mr Dylan Chown, expressed surprise when contacted about the future of the project.

He said he was unaware that the Academy had been officially abandoned.

He admitted the SBA should have undertaken more consultation with the community.

“In hindsight we should have engaged a lot more with the people,” Mr Chown said

“The process also got bogged down with town planning issues.”