Protecting an island paradise

As well as the popular North Stradbroke Island, Redland Shire also has Russell, Lamb, Macleay, Perulpa, Peel, Coochiemudlo and Karragarra Islands within its boundaries. These all lie within one of Queensland's most important ecological, recreational, cultural and economic resources, Moreton Bay. This area has national and international significance, formally recognised in 1993 as the Moreton Bay Marine Park.

The islands are an integral part of the Bay's environment, providing a rare opportunity for a relaxed, idyllic lifestyle, and all within commuting distance of Australia's third largest metropolitan area.

During the 1960s and 70s, many of the islands' farmers and landowners from Russell, Lamb, Macleay, Karragarra and Perulpa Islands sold out to developers. These allotments were subdivided with little or no consideration of Town Planning guidelines. At this time, this area was not under any Local Authority jurisdiction and therefore outside Town Planning regulations.

Carved up into small blocks, as many as 4,000 were, from the outset, unsuitable for development, being below the high water mark or submerged in freshwater wetlands. Unfortunately, many of these promised 'little pieces of paradise' were purchased site unseen!

As a result of an inquiry into these dubious developments, in 1973, Redland Shire Council took over control of the Islands. "These problems were passed on to Council," said Mayor Eddie Santagiuliana. "We are resolving the infrastructure issues and slowly gaining the upper hand but it does take time."

The subdivisions created inappropriate levels of development. As well as inadequate infrastructure provision, the potential for an estimated increase in population of between 30,000 to 40,000 people was not ecologically sustainable.

In 1996 Redland Shire Council, in conjunction with Queensland Department of Local Government and Planning, commenced a planning study for Russell, Lamb, Macleay, Perulpa and Karragarra Islands.

Over 3,000 written and verbal responses from island landowners and community members were received during the study process and incorporated, where appropriate, into the final draft strategy.

"These beautiful islands in a Marine Park have the potential, with careful planning, to be recognised as the best residential living area in Australia," Councillor Santagiuliana said. "Unfortunately, people have heard much about the bad parts but there is much to be said about the good areas and laid back lifestyle the islands offer."