Release, 28 July 2005

Proposed resort redevelopment at Coral Bay, July 2005

On Sunday, 17 July, the Western Australian Ministers for Planning and Infrastructure, Alannah MacTiernan MLA, and Tourism, Mark McGowan MLA, announced that the concept plan for a hotel at Coral Bay had been approved. Their press release stated, in part, that:

At Ningaloo, developers Two Oceans and their partners propose a five-star Hilton resort hotel providing for 260 beds at the existing Ningaloo Reef Resort.

The concept was approved by the NSDC [Ningaloo Sustainable Development Committee], as well as the Carnarvon Shire Council, subject to a number of conditions relating to energy efficiency, visual impacts and cyclonic storm surge.

"The resort is in keeping with the Government's Ningaloo Coast Regional Strategy and will help bring jobs and opportunities to the region," Ms MacTiernan said.

"We are investing in significant infrastructure in Coral Bay including sewerage and future water and power supplies to support the settlement's sustainable development."

Save Ningaloo Campaign’s (SNC) response:

When it was asked to comment on the concept plan, the SNC provided cautious support on the basis that:

  • the approval was for the concept plan, known as the “Outline Development Plan” which is subject to further, detailed considerations including the analysis of cyclonic storm surge and energy efficiency.
  • to achieve final approval, the proponents would have to successfully deliver a detailed Development Application. A suite of environmental considerations would need to be considered at this phase, including coastal setback (the distance between the first line of vegetation and permanent structures) and a satisfactory Environmental Management Plan. The SNC has also called for the Environmental Protection Authority to assess the proposal at this stage.
  • the concept is broadly consistent with the Ningaloo Coast regional strategy: Carnarvon to Exmouth which includes a cap on the ultimate tourism capacity at Coral Bay. This proposal appears to fit within this guideline.
  • there is little similarity between this proposal and the marina resort once proposed for Mauds Landing, just over two kilometres to the north of Coral Bay. The most important difference is that this proposal does not include a marina. The SNC opposes the construction of marinas along Ningaloo Reef because of the potential direct and indirect impacts on the highly sensitive marine and coastal ecosystems.

Furthermore, according to the Outline Development Plan for the proposed Coral Bay resort, the proposed redevelopment would add 160 beds (to the existing 100-120 beds at the present resort). In contrast, the marina resort at Mauds Landing would have accommodated approximately 2500 people in phase one alone.

The SNC has never been ‘anti-development’; it has called for development to fit within meaningful planning guidelines, to be concentrated in existing settlements and to markedly improve prevailing standards of ecologically sensitive design and management. To this end, we will continue to scrutinise this and other major proposals.

Finally, whether or not this latest proposal is deemed to be environmentally acceptable at the next, detailed assessment stage, the SNC reiterates its previous calls for upgraded monitoring around Coral Bay so that human impacts can be better understood and managed.

Australian Marine Conservation Society Conservation Council of WA
World Wildlife Fund
Conservation Council of WA


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