15/11/2005 - 21:00

Approval for $25m Monkey Mia plan

15/11/2005 - 21:00

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Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort has been granted environmental approval for a $25 million proposal to double the size of the resort, located in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area.

Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort has been granted environmental approval for a $25 million proposal to double the size of the resort, located in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area.

Securing the approval was a condition of the 50 per cent purchase in the resort announced last month by the Aspen Group.

Unlisted property investor Aspen announced its intention to take a 50 per cent stake in Monkey Mia for $8 million from a syndicate of developers led by Graeme Robertson.

Aspen managing director Angelo Del Borrello said the purchase was now likely to settle at the end of the month.

“We were certainly aware of the plans for expansion, and this became the reason we were interested in buying the resort,” Mr Del Borrello said. “The expansion plans are carefully designed to not affect the environment, and will essentially see a doubling in size of the resort from 600 to 1,200 beds.”

He said construction was likely to start by mid to late next year, and would be undertaken in a staged process so visitors could still come to the resort while the expansion was taking place.

Environment Minister Judy Edwards said the expansion of the resort, which included additional staff accommodation and an upgraded wastewater treatment plant, would impact on about five hectares of land.

The Environmental Protection Authority had concluded that clearing this area would not have a significant impact on the area’s vegetation or the habitat of the local population of thick-billed grasswrens, classified as vulnerable under state and federal threatened species lists.

Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort will have to implement a management plan for the birds.

Dr Edwards said the government was committed to facilitating sustainable tourism developments, particularly in regional areas.

“Shark Bay is one of only a few areas that meet all four criteria for World Heritage Listing for natural values and it is important that facilities are available for the increasing number of visitors,” she said.

The EPA has recommended that the area of the beach immediately in front of the resort, where visitors interact with dolphins, and the surrounding visitor services area, be vested in the Conservation Commission of WA and managed by the Department of Conservation and Land Management.

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