KATHERINE Town Council has responded to claims it had illegally claimed land as part of the town’s hot springs renovation project.
The council’s chief executive officer, Robert Jennings, has issued a statement saying an “administrative error” had been made.
He was responding to claims, made on ABC News, that a 900-square-metre portion of the river corridor had been cleared without a permit.
“The hot springs project has been identified by the community and Katherine businesses as important for enhancing the economic and community well-being of the town and the council has been working hard to make this a reality,” Mr Jennings said.
“This project has considerable merit and has already boosted tourism in the region as a result of the success of the partnership between the pop-up cafe and the council as well as the riverside walking trail with new exercise stations and water fountains that have been constructed with the assistance of JobFind.
“The overall project is ongoing and many approvals for the project including the development approval, rezoning of the land, building and planning permits for the pop-up cafe business have already been obtained.
“We are currently working with the traditional owners of the area to identifying the correct Aboriginal name of the site and have performed community consultation on the project.
“On one KTC owned portion of the land (comprising around 20,300 metres square), no permit was required for clearing.
“Unfortunately, whilst we thought we had obtained all the required approvals for the works through the consultant we engaged, the permit for clearing a 900 m2 portion of river corridor on land also owned by the council was missed.
“The differing zoning of this second parcel of land meant that the ability to clear up to a hectare without a permit as on the first parcel of land did not apply.
”We are currently working with the (former) Department of Lands and Planning to obtain the required permit for the clearing of that portion of land.
“We sincerely hope that this administrative error does not reflect on the overall valuable vision of the project, the significant benefits for the region and the strong partnerships created through the project.”
Almost $1 million has been budgeted for the first stage of the project with most of the money funded by the Northern Territory Government.