The State Environment Minister’s decision to review the Kangaroo Island golf resort proposal has alarmed KI residents who are concerned about the potential sale of crown land.
Minister David Speirs visited the site of the proposed golf course near Pelican Lagoon east of Pennington Bay last month and said he was was going to revisit the issue of the golf course.
The proponents of the golf resort after receiving approval for the development changed their plans, moving the golf course closer to the water’s edge onto a 100-acre parcel of waterfront crown land.
This new proposal was put out for public comment and there was overwhelming opposition expressed on the State Government’s Your Say website with more than 780 submissions opposing the sale and only five for the sale.
Neighbouring land holder Boone Law said he was frustrated to hear that the crown land sale proposal was potentially being revisited so soon after the overwhelming rejection of the public consultation.
“As a local land owner it’s been so frustrating to have this cloud of uncertainty hanging over us since the project was first put on the table back in 2014,” Mr Law said.
“I thought the previous minister's rejection of the crown land acquisition was based on a strong community response and the decision was final."
KI resident and entomologist Dr Richard Glatz also expressed frustration that the crown land issue was potentially being revisited.
His view was that this section of land held great biological value and any decision to sell the crown land would set a dangerous precedent for further development of ecological important crown land around South Australia.
But whether the minister is keen to review the crown land issue is unclear as the applicants deny pushing him to overturn the previous environment minister’s decision.
Darius Oliver from Planet Golf is the golf course consultant to the developers KI Links and said he was not aware of the applicants applying for sale of the crown land.
“Given the response to public consultation, we aren’t expecting the waterfront crown land to be made available for sale – and we haven’t requested a sale,” Mr Oliver said.
“We are hoping to hear back from the Department for the Environment at some point in the near future about the crown land, but that might be to request additional information or to discuss a lease.”
Mr Oliver said the project had been authorised subject to a host of conditions, permits and management plans that need approval prior to the golf course starting construction.
Greens Upper House member Mark Parnell said it was his view that the environment minister would need to open any review of the decision on crown land to public comment.
Mr Parnell happened to visit Kangaroo Island on the weekend on a personal trip but also got to visit the site of the proposed golf resort.
“The Act does not refer to ‘applications’ by people wanting to buy or lease the land, it’s all about what the minister is proposing,” Mr Parnell said.
“So, my assessment is that if the new minister is now proposing to sell the land, he has to start the public consultation all over again.
“I think the situation would be different if Ian Hunter hadn’t already made his decision – that’s because the minister has ‘perpetual succession’ regardless of which individual happens to hold the position or which party they represent.
“So, if this is a new proposal by the minister, he has to start the consultation again.”
State Member for Mawson, Leon Bignell said his view was that residents were opposed to the sale of the crown land but not leasing of crown land.
He said he did not have a problem with the leasing of the land to the developers.
He also said the environment minister broke long-standing protocol by not informing him as local member of the visit.
The developer and minister were contacted for comment.