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EHP reply to allegations of mismanagement of Springvale Station

The Queenland Environment and Heritage Protection Department has replied to a letter of complaint from Mr Keith Courte. He has kindly sent a copy of this reply to his scathing accusations of mismanagement by the Environment and Heritage Protection Department.(see story July 28 cairnsnews)

Notably the EHP writer has ignored the more serious allegations and naturally denies most of it.

In particular the writer denies no aerial incendiary burns have been carried out by EHP staff. Mr Courte said neighbours had been burnt out without notification by officers.

He said one neighbour had written to the EHP complaining about fires along the boundary which burnt out a part of this adjoining freehold property.

The neighbour had been notified about proposed burning off by EHP along a small section  but the officers apparently burnt along the entire somewhat inaccessible boundary without notification.

And on it goes. This is a typical example of bureaucracy gone mad and is but a minor example of  the Labor government’s mismanagement plans for the entire national park estate on the Peninsula.

If the Cape York Land Council gets its way this Labor/Green government will get the big shove by Peninsula inhabitants at the upcoming election.

Before reading the following document, please re-charge your can of bullshit repellent.

 

 

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Crocodile in cane field attacks worker near Mareeba

A cane harvesting contractor had to prise open the jaws of a salt water crocodile with a large spanner to remove the hand of a worker who attempted to move the 1.4 metre reptile from a cane paddock.

The attack occurred Sunday at a Peters Road farm, three kilometres from the Mareeba CBD when company work place safety officer Daryl Bell was called by a harvesting machine operator to capture the croc and tape its jaws before removing it.

The injured animal “latched onto my hand puncturing my thumb and fingers and it would not let go,” Mr Bell said.

A saltwater crocodile had its jaws prised open with a spanner after it latched onto cane worker Daryl Bell’s hand(left) in a sugar cane paddock near Mareeba. Harvesting contractor Bruce Craven is standing next to the irrigation channel in which several crocs had been seen

“The operator grabbed the tail and I grabbed the jaws but its skin started to peel off, I lost my grip and it grabbed my hand.

“Its teeth went right through my thumb nail and a finger.

“I felt sorry for the croc because it had been burnt and I had no intention of hurting it.”

Mr Bell was taken to Mareeba Hospital to get treatment and was released after his hand had been bandaged and treated to prevent infection.

Owner of Harvest Mareeba, Bruce Craven said he prised open the animal’s jaws to remove Mr Bell’s hand.

Threats of prosecution made by Environment and Heritage Protection officers to local farmers should they interfere with crocodiles, led Mr Craven to contact the department in Cairns for advice about the injured reptile.

He said it took more than two hours to get an officer on the phone.

“They told us to take it to a vet who then euthanized it,” he said.

Cane worker Daryl Bell had to get hospital treatment after a 1.4 metre crocodile bit and punctured his thumb and finger

Mr Craven said the croc had been burnt the previous day in a cane fire and was not discovered until the machine operator saw it while he was harvesting standing cane.

“Having crocodiles in a cane paddock places my men in a dangerous situation and this croc should not have been in the cane.

“They are not supposed to be on the Tablelands,” Mr Craven said.

“Children ride bikes along this road next to the irrigation channel where the crocs live.

“The EHP has been contacted in the past about removing crocs from this area but they refuse to do anything about the danger.”

This croc had to have its jaws prised open to remove a cane worker’s hand

Julatten cane harvesting contractor Gordon Rasmussen, the Katters Australian Party candidate for Cook, was at the scene and was critical of the State Government for “dragging its feet”, trying to prevent the KAP’s ‘Safe Waterways’ legislation from being introduced into Parliament before the upcoming election.

“Shane Knuth (Member for Dalrymple) has the bill ready to go so we can do something about controlling the explosion of crocs in the Mareeba area and throughout the north,” Mr Rasmussen said.

“There should be no salt water crocodiles on the Tablelands and here we have a serious incident that has been reported to the Workplace Health and Safety Department by medical authorities because this was a work place accident.

“The State Government seems quite happy for farmers to be attacked by crocs and I can understand why farmers are reluctant to remove dangerous crocs because the Environment Department will chase them through the courts for a $25,000 fine.

“Mr Knuth said he will try to have the bill debated and passed in August.

“We have to do something now.”

 

EHP draining irrigation dam flushing tonnes of sediment onto the reef

Draining and bulldozing of the ‘Cook’ irrigation dam on Springvale Station by the EHP has been described as “environmental vandalism” by a neighbouring landowner

-article contributed

The draining and bulldozing of a 1000 megalitre irrigation dam at Springvale Station south west of Cooktown by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has made a mockery of preventing sediment runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef.

Millions of litres of dam water is being siphoned from the dam directly into the East Normanby River, creating a muddy plume for many kilometres downstream, dumping thousands of tonnes of sediment onto the reef.

The East Normanby runs into the now dry West Normanby to become the Normanby  River which eventually runs into Princess Charlotte Bay.

The 2016 purchase of the former cattle property by EHP drew much criticism from the farming industry when it was discovered flawed sediment runoff data was the basis for its acquisition by the government.

A spokesman for EHP Minister Stephen Miles confirmed the dam was being pumped out and millions of litres of valuable water were being discharged into the flowing East Normanby River.

Deep channels have been cut below the dam wall by water gushing from a siphon polypipe in the 1000ml dam flowing straight into the East Normanby River. The EHP intends to bulldoze this massive earth wall

Water being siphoned from the irrigation dam has cut a deep channel through the soil and is draining directly into the flowing East Normanby River(top of photo) creating massive sediment plumes kilometres downstream

The EHP has claimed the dam could fail, but adjoining landowner and former Cook Shire Mayor Graham Elmes said the dam was sound, properly built, had gone through four wet seasons and had filled easily during its first wet in 2013.

“This dam also acted as a large sediment trap filtering runoff into the river system, but when the walls are bulldozed what will happen to the 30,000 cubic metres of earth that an engineer has measured,” he said.

“It can’t be left in the excavation area because it will simply run off into the river and then Springvale actually will have a sediment runoff problem.”

KAP Rob Katter MP for Mt Isa

KAP State leader Robbie Katter said the State Government is on a crusade against farmers.

“They are deceiving the public through misinformation and inaccurate data,” Mr Katter said.

“This is a fallacy, again derived from incorrect data and is a waste of viable, developed grazing property, which would be far better managed by a farmer than the State Government. This dam should be left intact.”

North East Regional Manager of Agforce Paul Burke was incensed that a government could undertake such “wanton waste.”

“It beggars belief that such a precious commodity could be pumped down the river when this property could have been producing a number of irrigated crops and still breeding cattle,” Mr Burke said.

The EHP spokesman claimed the dam “did not undergo a full regulatory approvals process as required by State legislation and is therefore unauthorised.

Stephen Miles (away) EHP Minister

“To prevent dam failure and any subsequent downstream impacts, including contributions to sediment production within the catchment, the dam will be decommissioned and the land will be rehabilitated,” the spokesman said.

Mr Elmes was adamant the dam had been properly constructed and there was absolutely no chance the dam wall could fail.

“Bulldozing this water asset that cost $400,000 to build is totally irresponsible and an act of environmental vandalism.

“The government should stop all destructive activities on this property, freehold and subdivide it into four blocks and ballot these blocks for younger farmers,” he said.

Qld Govt at war with itself over $7m cattle property purchase

More jaundiced reporting from the ABC about Springvale Station west of Cooktown that the Queensland Environment Department bought for $7 million to prevent sediment runoff into the ocean.

The only problem is that bogus data was used to base the purchase, when in fact the Government’s own previously published scientific data clearly showed Springvale Station was responsible for less than one per cent runoff into Princess Charlotte Bay.

See story Cairns News: ‘Lakefield National Park contributes more reef runoff than all combined cattle properties in the catchment’

from ABC

In what could be a storyline from the satirical TV series Yes Minister, the Queensland Government has gone to war with itself.

Key points:

  • The Mines Department is considering an application to mine a river on state-owned land for gold and tin
  • The Environment Department bought the land in a bid to halt sediment reaching the reef
  • The two departments are in a legal fight in the Land Court

The ABC has learned one Queensland Government department has lodged a legal objection to another department over a plan to mine a river on state-owned land.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is taking on the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in a stoush in the Land Court over Springvale Station on Cape York.

The Queensland Government bought the massive cattle station for $7 million last year.

The idea was to stop, or at least reduce, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sediment from the property washing from the West Normanby River into the Great Barrier Reef.

But it seems — in the best traditions of Yes Minister — the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing.

At the same time the Environment Department was buying the property to prevent damaging sediment flowing down the river, the Natural Resources Department was considering an application to mine the river at Springvale Station for gold and tin ore.

Now the case is before the Queensland Land Court.

In its objection, the Environment Department argues “the public right and interest will be prejudiced by the proposed mining activity as it will directly and negatively impact the biodiversity values for which the property was acquired”.

It says research suggests that “Springvale Station is the source of approximately 460,000 tonnes of sediment runoff every year, which is around 40 per cent of all gully erosion-derived sediment in the Normanby River catchment”.

The West Normanby River joins the eastern branch of the river before draining into Princess Charlotte Bay and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“The proposed mining activity will likely further destabilise the alluvial and colluvial soils of the West Normanby River and increase soil erosion and sediment loss,” the Environment Department said in its objection.

“… The long-term economic benefits of enhancing environmental outcomes through this acquisition will far exceed the economic and employment benefits of this small mining operation.”

The department also warns sedimentation blocks light for coral, smothers marine organisms and reduces coral and seagrass growth.

It states the northern section of the reef has been significantly affected by coral bleaching, with “high levels of coral mortality”.

“For those corals to have the best chance of recovery, the water quality needs to be as good as possible,” the Environment Department wrote.

Endangered plants, animals on land: Environment Department

The State Government has already begun removing cattle from Springvale Station in a bid to reduce sediment run-off.

The Environment Department said it would invest a substantial amount of public money for conservation work on the property to further reduce run-off, with the price tag set at $30,000 a hectare.

The department also said the property was home to endangered or vulnerable flora and fauna species, including the northern quoll, red goshawk, brown antelope orchid and spectacled flying fox.

In a statement to the ABC, the Environment Department said it was the Government’s “intention that Springvale Station be declared a nature refuge”.

But it said such a declaration would “not necessarily preclude the commencement of activities proposed under the mining lease application”.

A spokesman for the Land Court said the objection to the proposed mine would be heard in August.

Lakefield National Park contributes more reef runoff than all combined cattle properties in the catchment

The $7 million purchase of Springvale Station at Lakeland last year by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to prevent sediment runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef derives from incorrect data and is a waste of a viable, developed grazing property.

The adjoining property owner and former Mayor of Cook Shire, Graham Elmes said Lakefield National Park, not Springvale, according to government data was responsible for 86 per cent of sediment runoff into Princes Charlotte Bay.

A spokesman for EHS Minister Stephen Miles said Springvale “reportedly was responsible for up to 40 per cent of gully-derived sediment in the Normanby catchment, which is a significant upper catchment draining onto the northern Great Barrier Reef.

“The Queensland Government aims to manage and conserve Springvale’s significant biophysical values, and contribute to improved water quality in the Normanby River catchment by reducing sediment runoff from the property.”

Former Cook Shire Mayor Graham Elmes says Springvale Station was bought under false pretences by the Qld Environment Dept. Lakefield National Park contributes 86 per cent of runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef, according to government data

In late March Mr Elmes met with EHP staff at Lakeland where he pointed out, according to a report from the Cape York Local Marine Park Authority, that 86 per cent of tested sediment levels found on the bed of Princes Charlotte Bay originated from the Bizant River system that runs through the destocked, 5370 square kilometre Lakefield National Park and not from the Normanby River catchment.

He said gravel pits and 40 kilometres of gravel road running through the Kalpowar section of the national park were major sources of soil sediment runoff.

“After every wet season the national parks have to re-sheet their gravel roads with thousands of tonnes of gravel extracted from their own open gravel pits on the park,” Mr Elmes said.

“Where do they think the runoff from the pits and all this gravel from the roads ends up after floods?

“The report says the Marrett River that runs through Kalpowar puts 19 per cent and the North Kennedy 21 per cent into the Bizant River that contributes another 46 per cent of sediment that empties into Princes Charlotte Bay.”

The report states runoff from Springvale Station and the 11 other cattle properties in the(Normanby) catchment above the coastal plains represents only nine per cent of the total sediment found on the bed of Princes Charlotte Bay.

“This nine percent of runoff is spread across 11 former or existing cattle properties including Springvale in the Normanby catchment,” Mr Elmes explained.

“If it is averaged across all 11 places then Springvale’s runoff contribution is less than one per cent.”

Section 1.3.6 of the report says: ‘…riverine delivered sediments from the upper catchment (ie sourced from above the coastal plain) only represent about nine per cent of the sediment present on the bed of Princes Charlotte Bay.’

It goes on to say: ‘It is clear that a great deal more research is required to unravel the interaction with sediment delivered to the near shore zone in Princes Charlotte Bay by tidal currents, and sediment delivered to the reef in flood plumes…’

The spokesman said the former cattle station would be destocked of cattle by October 31, 2017, when it would be declared a Nature Refuge under the Nature Conservation Act.

“The longer-term intent is to dedicate the property as a higher class of protected area as a conservation park. This process will be subject to a negotiated native title outcome through the Cape York Tenure Resolution Program,” he said.

“Implementation of a program of works to manage and reduce erosion on the property will commence in 2017.

“Research does indicate that sediment flowing into Princess Charlotte Bay comes from a range of sources including Lakefield National Park, which is a natural source.

“We know feral animals can cause soil erosion, which is why the Queensland Government has feral animal control programs in place in national parks including Lakefield.

“These activities aim to reduce the impacts of hard hoofed pests, particularly cattle and pigs that adversely impact on watercourses, and subsequently sediment erosion.”

Mr Elmes said: “The government’s own data shows they have wasted a lot of money buying this property and now they want to turn it into a conservation park, which most locals are dead against.

“It has over 4000 acres of cultivation paddocks and large dams suitable for irrigation and I don’t know where the so-called biophysical values are on the property.

“We agreed they could turn it into a nature reserve which allows cattle grazing but we do not want another huge area of wasteland which will be an enormous problem to manage.

“We will see the shire lose more of its small rate base and lose 4000 cattle from the local economy.

“When I showed staff at the meeting these are sediment figures from their own data, there was stunned silence.”

The 2013 study by the Cape York Local Marine Park Authority titled ‘An Empirically-based Sediment Budget for the Normanby Basin’ was funded by the Federal Government as a part of Caring for Our Country Reef Rescue Initiative.

Contributed

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