Despite strenuous objections by the Surfrider Foundation Australia and 33,000 people who signed a petition against it, a new 900 square-foot tourist development will go up at Australia’s famed Bells Beach, according to local news outlet the Townsville Bulletin.
The local Surf Coast Shire nixed the proposal last year. But proponents went over their heads, appealing to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which recently gave the development the green light.
The permit allows for the accommodations as well as “the removal and lopping of native vegetation.”
The Surfrider Foundation Australia expressed deep sadness when it announced news of the permit on its Facebook page. “With profound disappointment and disbelief we sadly inform you that Anthony Liston, chairman for the VCAT hearing, has made the decision to grant the landowners of 130 Bells Rd, Bells Beach, a permit to develop tourist accommodation and build a new dwelling directly within the hinterland/view shed of the iconic Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve,” Surfrider Australia wrote.
Liston was quoted in the Bulletin saying, “In the short term the impacts of the proposed buildings and associated works on the landscape and environmental values of the land are very minor.”
Bells Beach, the World Championship Tour’s second stop, is known for being a scarcely developed haven for surfers and nature lovers. Yet, Surfrider Australia lists it as ”endangered” because of proposals like this one and other threats from a surging population and the hosting of large events.
The Change.org petition in opposition to the development called this “The final stand to ensure the magical ancient resonance, surfing folklore, visitor nirvana and beautiful natural environment of Bells and surrounds are respected and protected now and for all future generations to enjoy.”