With much speculation, confusion and even misinformation regarding the Cooloola Great Walk, we continue to obtain information and update whenever new information is available.

In response to questions relating to whether the proposal includes a 30-year lease period with the option to extend another 30 years, and also whether the lease is transferable to another party, the Department of Environment and Science have responded with the following information in italics:

At this stage the department has not received a final detailed proposal for the proposed Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Project for assessment under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA). Terms for a lease for the proposal are therefore not yet finalised and are subject to final project approval from the Chief Executive of the department (the Chief Executive).

However, I can provide the following general advice regarding leases granted under NCA:

  • The maximum allowable term for a lease under the NCA is 30 years. The specific term of a lease, as well as arrangements for extension or renewal, differ depending on the type of activity proposed, scale of the operation, and capital investment in the project. Refer to the Ecotourism Facilities on National Parks Implementation Framework for more information.
  • Any application for extension or renewal of a NCA lease is subject to re-assessment by the department and final approval from the Chief Executive. Assessment considers NCA requirements, and the behaviour and competency of the Lessee (including their environmental record) during the previous term of the lease.
  • Standard NCA lease conditions prohibit assignment of the lease (including transfer, sale, licencing, subletting, etc) to another party without the approval of the Chief Executive. In deciding whether to approve reassignment of a lease, the Chief Executive must consider a range of factors, but principally the decision would rest on the whether the proposed assignee has the necessary skills, experience and capabilities (including financial capabilities) to undertake the permitted use under the lease.

Whilst the Department awaits a detailed proposal and we in turn wait for their assessment accordingly, we expect outcomes from the Cooloola Visitor Capacity Study from the Department mid-February and also consultation on the draft Cooloola Area Management Plan mid-year.

Should the Cooloola Great Walk project receive approval from the Department, it will also need to receive Development Approvals from both Noosa and Gympie Regional Councils for the proposed cabins.

For those questioning any indigenous processes in relation to this proposed project, please read an earlier post at www.sandybolton.com/native-title-and-land-rights-a-summary-of-the-basics

Should you wish to contact the Minister for Environment, you can email the Hon Meaghan Scanlon via environment@ministerial.qld.gov.au

Public submissions may be made to DES regarding any and all aspects of the Cooloola Project, associated State approvals, and lease conditions (including an appropriate lease term). Any submissions received will be considered as part of its assessment should an application for the Cooloola Project be made by the proponent, and as part of the Chief Executive’s decision-making process should the project progress to final approval. Submissions can be made to DES at any time via this email (ecofacilities@des.qld.gov.au).