North shore fees not driving improvements: LNP
Investing millions of dollars raised by state visitor permits to Noosa North Shore and Cooloola's green escapes into upgrading facilities has become a key election promise of LNP Noosa candidate James Blevin.
Mr Blevin has returned from a tour of the north shore camping and recreation areas claiming a state Labor promise to enhance the Cooloola Recreation Area Plan remains on the scrap heap 10 years after it was first touted.
Mr Blevin said that showed Labor couldn't be trusted to create new jobs or keep their promises.
"Ten years ago this announcement was made by the then Minister for Environment Kate Jones and it remains undelivered," Mr Blevin said.
"Labor promised several projects including road upgrades, better signage, waste facilities and new amenities but haven't delivered.
"I've been to Noosa North Shore recently to evaluate the promises and the work is yet to be completed," he said.
Mr Blevin said on top of the $8 ferry fee to cross the Noosa River all visitors paid a $13.40 fee for a daily Cooloola vehicle access permit.
He was unable to obtain revenue park-level data for Great Sandy and Cooloola, but a media report in 2014 said the area generated more than $10 million in revenue.
"Labor promised funds raised by the fees would be ploughed back into improving visitor facilities and services but clearly this has not happened," Mr Blevin said.
"I am fighting for greater police and ranger presence, better rubbish facilities, improved roads, more amenities and more eco-tourism jobs.
"The signage demarcating the 2.5 km vehicle-free stretch of beach between the first and third cutting is obvious but locals tell me drivers often ignore it and that other road rules are often broken with impunity because of an inadequate police presence."
Mr Blevin said he would continue to engage with Noosa North Shore residents, business people and the community to create an effective Noosa North Shore management and infrastructure plan that could be implemented after the election.
"Noosa deserves better and the visitors who pay their own way to enjoy our naturally beautiful region do too," he said.
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch has returned political fire on the LNP's record while in government.
"Mr Blevin's dubious walk down memory lane conveniently skips over the LNP's disastrous three years of inaction and vandalism on the environment, including cuts that lead to more than 60 fewer frontline rangers," Ms Enoch said.
"The Palaszczuk Government has invested more than $2 million in the Cooloola Recreation Area including delivery of a new Dump Ezy portable toilet waste management facility and new upgraded visitor facilities at Freshwater and Noosa North Shore," the minister said.
"Access points such as Noosa North Shore's third cutting, and the Leisha track at Double Island Point, have also been improved with the installation of pallets to harden access surfaces.
"The Palaszczuk Government has invested more than $53 million into improving Queensland's most popular parks and forests because we understand the thriving balance, and that conservation and job creation go hand-in-hand," Ms Enoch said.
Epic Ocean Adventures operator Tyron van Santen has worked in the Noosa North Shore and Cooloola areas for the past 10 years and has seen an upsurge in the number of people using the area.
Mr van Santen said he did not want to get into the politics of the area's funding levels, but thought the biggest issue was ensuring the sustainability of the area.
"It's the numbers," he said.
"What's happened with the increase in the popularity of the place, it's those summer times, and the long weekends when people just want to get out and go up to north shore and Double Island Point … it's just overused.
"You can really see it on the Double Island side of the camping, the sand dunes look like Swiss cheese because of how many four wheel drive tracks are going up along there," Mr van Santen said.
He said while it would be good to know the break down of what the fees raised there were spent on, the addition of too many facilities there would result in Cooloola losing it's national park characteristics.
"I think the challenge there is for them to start capping things a little, just to get control of it," he said.
Mr van Santen said he saw a ranger presence up there and the maintenance costs to their vehicles working in the harsh environment as well as upkeep of signs would all add up.
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch's office has been contacted for comment.