Around 90 people are expected to take part in Friday’s meeting in Georgetown, called by AgForce to fully explore the issues surrounding the Etheridge Shire Council’s desire to register the shire as a global geopark.
Regional manager, Paul Burke, said he was fielding five phone calls a day on the issue and so this would be a chance for landholders to air their concerns and get answers, with a geologist and senior political advisor in attendance.
“At the end of the meeting, we want a clear resolution – to oppose the plan entirely, to support it entirely but delay the need to submit it until a more informed decision that there’s been consultation on, or to support a mosaic of significant geological sites joined with a tourist route,” Paul said.
It’s an issue that has aroused passion on all sides of the debate – shire mayor Warren Devlin and the Australian Geoscience Council wholeheartedly support the concept on tourism and mining heritage grounds, while others in the wider community have mounted a vocal opposition on the basis of a Trojan Horse infiltration by green interests.
One of those giving the idea close scrutiny is Far North Queensland land tenure specialist, David Kempton, who shared his early assessments with the North Queensland Register.
He understood a global geopark could be listed as a World Heritage site, and that an area is more likely to be assessed for World Heritage listing once designated a geopark.
Another finding to be verified on Friday was that geoparks rely on local/state or federal legislation to give them effect.
David said he understood that all landholders and activities in the designated area would be subject to that legislation, which would oversee land clearing, cropping, dam construction, and road building, if they impact on geological, natural or cultural values or features.
“The legislation and regulation will at the very least create a further layer of red tape over routine activities,” he said.
- Meeting – Georgetown town hall, 2pm.