‘Devastation’: New claim of environmental damage on Keswick
A fresh claim of environmental damage has been levelled against Keswick Island head lessee China Bloom, with video footage showing the "devastation" occurring in the tropical paradise.
Island resident James Asbury has renewed calls for the State Government to tear up the lease, saying he was disappointed that multiple government agencies were not taking action.
It comes after an online petition calling on the Federal Government to 'save Keswick Island' notched up more than 11,000 signatures.
Videographer and island resident James Asbury said he uploaded video of a dive in November near what he described as China Bloom's "illegal boat ramp" on the island.
"In front of the ramp itself as you can see, there's nothing but devastation and a coral graveyard where once coral gardens flourished," Mr Asbury stated in the video.
"The silt run-off can be seen everywhere and has suffocated the coral in this area, leaving broken remains on the seabed."
He said the coral gradually started to look healthy again as he moved further away from the boat ramp.
"When I get to about 500 metres away (from the ramp) - I see soft and hard coral again," Mr Asbury said.
"A further one kilometre away, I see the beautiful coral gardens that should cover this area."
The Daily Mercury sent questions to Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon's office about the alleged coral damage, but was told Ms Scanlon was on leave and questions should be directed to Mackay Regional Council.
Last month, Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson confirmed the council was investigating 'development compliance issues' raised on Keswick Island and was working with representatives of China Bloom in a bid to resolve them.
Council compliance officers have scheduled a trip to Keswick Island in early February to conduct inspections in relation to alleged illegal building work and the island's sediment and erosion control plan.
Community and Client Services director Angela Hays said China Bloom's development manager Greaton had engaged engineers to provide environmental management support in relation to the development works.
"This will help to ensure any work they are carrying out on the island does not result in adverse impacts on the environment, specifically relating to sediment and erosion control," she said.
"Council has advised Greaton and China Bloom that a tidal works permit was required for the temporary boat ramp.
"This application must be made by March 2021 and failure to make this application may result in council taking further enforcement action."
China Bloom was contacted for comment, but did not provide a response by deadline.
The company has previously said, as the latest headlessor, it was working through the "inherited issues".
"China Bloom is working productively with the council on ensuring all inherit works are compliant," it said.