Written by Maudy Veltema

Produced for online by Lily Nothling

A proposed cruise ship terminal for the Gold Coast has cleared its biggest hurdle with federal environmental approval.

But activist groups strongly oppose the proposal, saying it hasn’t been assessed thoroughly enough.

Source: City of Gold Coast.

The terminal would cover six hectares of land on the Southport Spit and play host to 150 cruise ships every year.

However, the Gold Coast City Council is yet to produce a business case for funding, which also still has to be approved by the State Government.

Main Beach Residents Association president David Hutley says Philip Park, the proposed site of the terminal, needs to be preserved as green public space.

“The amount of car parking and bus parking is ludicrous, and they would need a lot more land than they have shown on their initial plans,” he says.

He says after the State Government’s approval for a second big Brisbane Terminal at Luggage Point,  no need exists for two cruise ship terminals an hour away from each other.

“I think the Gold Coast could do equally as well by having much better promotions on the cruise ship terminals, which are going into Brisbane,” he says.

“They’re not doing very well at all with regards to that.”

Chamber of Commerce Queensland senior policy advisor Catherine Pham says this would not be a plausible idea.

“I think if the ships were to dock in Brisbane that most of the passengers would probably spend their time in Brisbane and head back on,” she says.

“I don’t foresee that there would be shuttles that would go down to the Gold Coast and back.”

Ms Pham says she expects the State Government to back the idea, saying it will boost jobs and tourism for both tourist destinations.

“It’s also a good, healthy level of competition that could be established between Brisbane and the Gold Coast,” she says

She says the focus will be on who can provide the best environment for passengers and where the most value will be for cruise ship companies.

The Federal Government says it examined nationally significant environmental matters from a report sent by the Gold Coast City Council.

 Gold Coast’s environmental council Gecko founding president Lois Levy says it was not thorough enough.

“Normally an EIS [environmental impact statement] is required to a much more in-depth assessment,” she says.

“Usually over four seasons but at least over two, and that didn’t happen.

“As far as a marine environment is concerned, they didn’t do any assessment at all.”

The approval sets out several conditions the council must follow.

For example, underwater piling can only start if there are no animals in the construction area.

Ms Levy says that’s not realistic.

“How would you know whether a whale was under the surface?” she says.

“You wouldn’t know unless it came up to breach.

“You would not be able to see a turtle from any great distance from the shore.”

The results of public consultation are expected by next week.