Aquis developers look for July 2014 start date for casino and resort development at Yorkeys Knob

After lodging an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with the Coordinator General in Brisbane yesterday, consultant Pat Flanaghan said the July construction date was “on target.”

The 500-page EIS is now subject to a formal review.

Mr Flanaghan, of Flanaghan Consulting, said he expected the Coordinator General approval of the EIS by March or April next year.

He said there might be “some gaps to fill” to meet the terms of reference for the EIS, but he expected the six-week public consultation period to start before Christmas.

Mr Flanaghan said council development approval was expected in May.

He said the EIS had been a comprehensive exercise but it was “well resourced”. The biggest challenge was dealing with the impacts of flooding as the resort was being built on a flood plain, he said.

“We believe it will meet the council’s flood code,” he said.

Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort chief executive officer Justin Fung said the submission of the EIS was a significant milestone.

“The team has since prepared comprehensive development and environmental plans which reflect the scope and scale of the proposed project and are designed to minimise or avoid impacts on the surrounding environment,” he said.

Mr Fung said subject to approval of the EIS and the granting of an appropriate casino licence, the project’s proponents expected to start construction in 2014 with an official opening in 2018.

“The government’s commitment to providing a comprehensive and rigorous terms of reference in a timely fashion and the hard work of our team of employees and consultants will ensure the Aquis project, and the benefits it will bring to the Cairns community, is one step closer,” he said.

Mr Fung said the project would not proceed without the support of the local community and stakeholders.

“Members of the public and other stakeholders will have ample opportunity to review the EIS and provide comments once it is released by the Coordinator General,” he said.

Barron River MP, Michael Trout, urged residents to have their say.

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