Surf legend urges green light for $1.2b project
Surfing superstar Kelly Slater is urging the Palaszczuk Government to quickly give the tick to an eponymous $1.2 billion wave pool project on the Sunshine Coast, as red tape and local greenies stall approvals.
Slater says the massive project - forecast to create more than 12,000 jobs and inject $2.3 billion into the COVID-crippled Queensland economy - could become as iconic a surf spot as world-famous Bells Beach or Snapper Rocks.
The 11-time world champion developed the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch at Lemoore in inland California in 2015, creating the most perfect man-made surfing wave ever seen.
He sold the technology to the World Surf League, which wants to develop the world's second Slater wave pool at Coolum in partnership with leading Queensland developer Consolidated Properties.
But the Sunshine Coast Surf Ranch has been sitting with the State Development Department for more than six months awaiting approval.
The 529ha former cane farm is outside the urban footprint in the South East Queensland Regional Plan but the WSL and Cons Prop have asked the Government to declare it a Priority Development Area.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tourism Minister Kate Jones - who visited the California Surf Ranch last year - have publicly welcomed the Coolum proposal but red tape is delaying approvals.
Local environmentalists are also opposing the project, saying it is a major flood risk, but the proponents say they have expert advice that this can be mitigated.
Slater told The Courier-Mail that the project, mooted as a possible venue for the 2032 Olympics if Queensland gets the Games, would create a new surfing 'mecca'.
"When people start thinking about surfing in Australia they generally think about Bells or the Gold Coast," he said.
" I think this wave would become somewhat of a mecca and put the Sunshine Coast back on the (surfing) map.
"I think it will bring a lot of interest to the area and it will be a place that I know that a lot of people are going to want to surf and have an ongoing impact on the local area."
The Californian Surf Ranch hosts WSL championship tour events and Slater said he was keen to see a second one built.
"We have had so many people asking for so long where we're going to build the next wave, including Australia," he said.
WSL Australian boss Andrew Stark said: "Given the current COVID climate and economic crisis that Queensland is facing, to bring such a sizeable investment and number of jobs to a region such as the Sunshine Coast is extremely important."
The Surf Ranch project would include a residential development, school, hotel and apartments, indigenous cultural centre, 'six-star' surf lodge, shops and restaurants, parkland and waterways.
Originally published as Surf legend urges green light for $1.2b Qld project