Court rejects appeal against Sekisui development
A LONG-RUNNING community battle to overturn Sunshine Coast Council's approval of the controversial Sekisui House Yaroomba development proposal has been lost.
The Planning and Environment Court in a 100-page judgment handed down by Judge Kefford dismissing an appeal by Development Watch Inc and Sunshine Coast Environment Court.
The development application is now expected to be approved with conditions.
Development Watch Inc campaigner Lyn Saxton said barristers were now going through the judgement to determine if there were grounds to appeal.
The community group raised more than $400,000 to launch the court bid to stop the development.
"I don't understand how this (development) could be in the public interest when 9000 plus residents were against it, she said.
"I'm sure if this now goes ahead, we will be fighting in court building height restrictions in later stages."
Sunshine Coast Council was first respondent to the appeal with SH Coolum Pty Ltd as co-respondent.
The judgement dismissed concerns about the impact of light on nesting turtles on Yaroomba Beach, after hearing evidence from Dr John Thorogood, a marine ecologist and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Dr Thorogood told the court only about four per cent of the Australian population of loggerhead turtles nested across all the beaches of the Sunshine Coast.
He gave evidence more than 80 per cent of nesting beaches used by loggerhead turtles in Queensland were within national parks.
"Whilst protecting endangered turtle populations is critical, it's important that as a community, we focus our conservation efforts where they'll be most use," Dr Thorogood said after the judgement was handed down.
"Planning decisions need to be made on objective evidence and fact, rather than emotion - and that's what we see the Court has decided in this matter."
He said he had demonstrated that coastal dunes would shield nesting habitat from light spill, and that the amount of sky-glow generated by the proposed resort "would be much less than experienced by other beaches on the Coast that continue to be successfully used by nesting turtles".
Questions have been put to Sunshine Coast Council and Sekisui House about when a final approval for the development was expected and when construction was likely to start.