The Queensland’s independent Coordinator General has approved the environmental impact statement for the proposed A$8.15bn ($6.65bn) Aquis Resort project near Cairns.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney said: "The Queensland Government continues to work with Aquis to make this exciting proposal a reality and today’s approval of the project’s EIS is another step in that process.
"This proposed resort has the potential to create more than 20,000 new jobs for the Cairns region and provide a major boost for North Queensland and the state’s tourism and construction industry."
Located around 13km north of Cairns, the proposed development site for the Aquis resort is at Yorkey’s Knob covering an area of 343ha that is currently used for sugarcane production.
The proposed resort will have 7,500 hotel rooms, a convention and exhibition centre, a golf course and entertainment facilities for theatre and gaming, as well as an artificial lake and lagoon.
During stage one set to take place between 2015 and 2018, the project is expected to create 3,750 construction and 1,000 operational jobs. Stage two at 2020 and 2040, will support 3,500 construction and 9,000 operational jobs.
The project is expected to appeal to North Queensland’s domestic and international visitors, in addition to spreading economic benefits right across the Cairns community.
The coordinator general decided that the project could proceed according to the conditions set out in his evaluation report, after assessment of the environmental, economic and social impacts of the Aquis project.
According to Seeney, the Coordinator General’s assessment did not consider the project’s separate application for a gaming licence through the integrated resort development process.
Aquis CEO and director Justin Fung said: "The ESI is another milestone for the Aquis integrated resort development and is critical in progressing the development of tourism in the North Queensland.
"The ESI process is extremely detailed and is focused on achieving good outcome for the community.
"The completion of the ESI allows us to focus on the other aspects of the project."
Image: The Aquis resort is located about 13km north of Cairns. Photo: courtesy of Aquis Resort.