THE potential sale of coastal land to developers of a $30 million golf course and resort on Kangaroo Island will set a dangerous precedent and endanger native vegetation and fauna, environmentalists have warned.
The State Government plans to sell Crown Land on the island’s south-east coast to allow construction of a planned links-style course dubbed The Cliffs Kangaroo Island and designed by the team behind fabled Cape Wickham golf course on Tasmania’s King Island.
Environment group, Eco Action Kangaroo Island spokesman Bob Huxtable said the disposal set an “extremely dangerous” precedent in selling prime coastal land to a private developer.
But a spokesman for the Environment Department said selling the site would have little impact on the public.
“This section of crown land has limited practical public access points and it is difficult to access the coast from the clifftops,” the spokesman said.
The planned sale of the 2km stretch of beachside property has been put for public consultation with submissions closing on Friday.
In its submission, Eco Action Kangaroo Island argued the sale or lease of the land could endanger the breeding of white-bellied sea eagles and existence of local fauna species.
“We don’t think the government has given enough consideration to the environmental impacts,” Mr Huxtable said.
“It is our view that all coastal land owned by the Crown should remain as such for the benefit of future generations, not the short-term enjoyment of a few.”
The golf course, declared a major project in February 2014, was given development approval in 2016.
The project was taken over by new owners Kangaroo Island Links – backed by horse trainer Michael Freeman – who in May secured approval to redesign the course.
KI Links director Andrew Purchase said his company had an existing lease on the site which allowed construction of the course.
He said the redesign of the course had pushed holes closer to the water.
“That’s going to make a big difference,” he said.
“To have the holes where they are puts the course right up there, it’s really spectacular, it needed to be done.”
The Environment Department spokesman said allowing developers the extra land would “enable players to take advantage of the coastal scenery.
Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA) president Alex Ouwens said the land was prime real estate but supported the disposal in favour of economic growth.
Based on similar land sales in the past, Mr Ouwens said he valued the block of land to be around $800,000.
Mr Ouwens said the site was less valuable than other beachfront land on the island as it did not have beach access, amenities or water supply.
“Because of that, the actual market value of the property isn’t that high but from a State Government prospective, the release of the land will help drive tourism as premier golf courses are increasingly becoming holiday destinations,” Mr Ouwens said.
“Considering that in the past access (lack of) attractions have hindered the market, I think the golf course will greatly benefit KI.”
The golf resort development at Pennington Bay will span across 242.6ha of oceanfront land and expected to generate up to 60 temporary during construction as well as long-term jobs in hospitality, course maintenance and environmental restoration.
Public comment is invited concerning the proposal and must be submitted in writing and received before the close of business on January 15 – extended from an earlier deadline of December 22.