Turning a Contentious Land Purchase Into a Prosperous Asset
Late last year following the collapse in negotiations with the Qantas/Green Collar Carbon Credit Scheme, and at the request of some councillors, council brought forward the opportunity to purchase a block of land for tree planting to facilitate a locally-run carbon-neutral initiative. If successful, this will be discussed in a thorough community consultation on Climate Change and a Carbon Emissions Policy to gain a clear direction.
I have no desire to utilise this block for the reduction of council’s carbon footprint, personally believing the block is not fit for the purpose it was bought for and might, at best, mitigate a quarter of council’s carbon emissions at a large cost to the ratepayer. I agreed to the purchase because to me it felt chock-full of possible uses. I saw it as the purchase of an asset rather than as an expense as others have tried to frame the transaction, which of course makes no sense as council now owns a tangible asset that can be used to benefit the community in an ongoing way.
I am aware that others in our community also feel strongly about this and I am determined to flesh out the case for more useful, prosperous options going forward. My initial thoughts around using the land centre on the constant complaints we hear about the north side of the ferry lacking land to support the express lane and toll booths. Part of this purchased land would allow for the road reserve to be moved, allowing cars to be diverted into a designated express lane and toll booth area.
Given its location, this portion of the land could also double-up as a tourist attraction through the construction of an interpretation centre and tourism office where visitors can learn about the history of the Daintree dating back to how the traditional owners, the Kuku Yalanji, inhabited the region right up until today’s modern issues around the environment and blockades. Tourists could also have the opportunity to leave their positive mark on the Daintree by buying and planting a tree to help rebuild that section of the rainforest. This would create another revenue stream for council and more employment in the region, and once these trees grow to a point where they can be used for carbon credits, the credits can then be sold to local or other small businesses to help offset their carbon emissions, creating even further income for council and value for residents.
There are also our beloved oil palms lining Douglas Road and the resolution over 12 years ago urging council to start growing them in a plantation in readiness for natural die-off and the eventual need for replacements in order to maintain our iconic entrance to Port Douglas. With time running out to start cultivating new oil palms, a portion of this parcel of land might be perfect for just such a plantation.
These are two ideas among many possibilities for this land, which could also include nature walks and a solar farm, and I look forward to a frank and full consultation with the entire shire community about the way forward.
This is more than just a block of land – it’s an important piece of the puzzle that helps make up a more prosperous future vision for our shire.