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Byron Shire
May 9, 2021

Surfers fear cruise ship terminal

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A $200-million plan for an offshore cruise ship terminal at Tugun near the Tweed-Gold Coast border is set to create a wave of  protests from  surfers and environmentalists.

The proposal, by billionaire developer Bob Ell’s Leda Group which is behind the Tweed’s two biggest housing subdivisions at Kings Forest and Cobaki, includes three hotels, a casino, three terminal berths, a water park, an underwater observatory, new North Kirra surf club and a super-yacht marina.

Tugun is just north of the former world-class point break at Kirra on the Gold Coast and the popular Tweed surf break at Duranbah Beach (D’bah).

US warships are also touted to berth there for rest and recreation and the plans also propose to ferry passengers on the cruise ships anchored offshore into the Tweed on smaller craft.

It’s believed the company has already had discussions on the ambitious plan with new Queensland premier Campbell Newman and new Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate.

Mr Tate, who recently visited Florida looking at similar offshore cruise ship terminals, told News Ltd journalists that major research would be undertaken for the Tugun option to ensure the popular surf breaks were not impacted.

Stupid idea

But well-known Byron Bay surfer, environmental activist and former NSW MLC, Ian Cohen, has labelled the idea as ‘stupid’ and old fashioned.

‘It’s very 1980s, it reminds me of a similar plan many years ago by Alan Bond for a huge marina development off Ocean Shores,’ Mr Cohen told Echonetdaily.

‘But there was a storm of protest and they pulled their heads in.

‘There is already a burgeoning surfing population already crowding out the Gold Coast which will inevitably spill over into Tweed and Byron beaches and down to Lennox Head.

‘If they ruin these iconic surf breaks, which they no doubt will, it will spill down and absolutely destroy surf breaks and quality of life all the way down the coast.

‘We really have been protected here in Byron with the Gold Coast catchment of quality waves there, but it that falls away, it will be like a tsunami on surfing areas all the way down the coast.’

Mr Cohen is famed for his unique and ‘exhilirating’ protest in 1986 when he surfed Sydney Harbour clutching the bow of a US warship.

Gold Coast mayor Mr Tate told media he had ‘no problem’ with the location of a terminal in Tugun ‘because it links closely to the airport, and I can see the benefit that passengers can transfer from a domestic flight to a cruise quite easily’.

Light rail

He said it would ‘even give rise for the extension of the light rail to Tugun’.

‘I know the south feels left out from time to time. This may be a good project for them to embrace. I think, however, that we need to consult the surf industry and the effect it may have on the breaks down there,’ the mayor told News Ltd.

‘We are working towards bringing back the Kirra groyne so we can restore the breaks and Kirra to be world class and I wouldn’t want to see this terminal jeopardise that.’

Surfrider Foundation national board member Brendan Donohoe told News Ltd that surfers from around the world would boycott the Gold Coast if the terminal went ahead.

Mr Donohoe said the surf break at Kirra would be ‘destroyed’ as a result and if surfers ‘don’t stand up against the absolute arrogant rubbish of the Kirra proposal, we may as well pick up and go home across the world. Bring it on Bob, we’ll see you in the surf’.

But a Leda Group spokesman told media their research showed the terminal would not affect the waves, and could even increase their size.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. What a ridiculous concept. The region is already struggling to cope with growth and the infrastructure is already pushed to the limits on the coast. Not to mention the total disrespect to the current local population living in the local area already and how major coastal construction will not only impact negatively on their lives, but also on the local quality of surf breaks that are iconic worldwide. The LEDA spokesperson has shown also their total ignorance by their statement that the terminal would increase the wave size. The fact that the local government is even entertaining this idea is an absolute joke and shows that they are more interested in the Dollar signs than the best interest in the local population.

  2. So many concrete statements by both sides and so little hard evidence on which a concerned local like myself can form an opinion. I look forward to more facts and less emphatic assertions.

  3. What an odious proposal. I was able to see first hand what the cruise ship industry did to Belize, and it was shocking. I cannot think of an industry that has done more damage to local environments and societies than the cruise ship bund, and this is well documented. The problem is that their profit margin is so high and they provide such financial incentive for the small circle of people and businesses they work with that supporters are generally well heeled, cluey and very vocal. Beware, my friends…

  4. Surfers, locals, families, pretty much everyone on the GC has been threatened with a filthy ship terminal by Terminal-Tom-Tate… if they ‘do’ Kirra, it will be a disaster, if they ‘do’ the Broadwater then TOS is lost… another disaster. C’mon guys this is a city-wide issue and we need to UNITE the community against this developer orgy. OUR BEACHES & THE BROADWATER ARE NOT FOR SALE – SORRY TERMINAL TOM. Join us at http://www.facebook.com/SaveOurSpit … united we will win this.

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