Uluru course faces hurdle

Uluru course faces hurdle
By Sean Dudley
A proposed golf course near Uluru in Australia is facing criticism from environmental groups, who fear the development may affect a series of endangered species that live nearby.

As many as four rare and endangered species could be affected by the development and ecologists have highlighted the real danger of causing another species to fall into extinction, if the course goes ahead as planned.

Environmental groups have also said that the proposed 18-hole, 28-hectare course could have a major effect on the nearby vegetation and its construction may speed up desert erosion.

“Even though it’s not a very big area, once you take out the area that’s been covered by the resort, by the airport, by the runway, the sewage ponds, the industrial areas, the road networks, there's not much left,” Dr Pip Masters of Kangaroo Island National Resources Board told Yahoo. “What we’re looking at is taking out another species.”

The course, which is intended to be located within the existing Ayers Rock resort, has been planned to boost tourism in the indigenous areas of Australia and encourage more tourists to visit the resort itself, as well as provide a healthy boost to local employment. It is estimated that the course will cost around AUS$15-20 million to build.

The resort operator Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia is keen to extend the average amount of time tourists stay at the resort, which is currently only one night. It’s hoped the course will encourage extended stays and provide the financial boost required to help train and employ more indigenous people.

The course has faced issues from the beginning however, with the natural environment posing dilemmas regarding its very construction. One major problem is the lack of water in the region, and preliminary hydrological reports indicated that irrigation and water provision would pose a huge threat to local aquifers and place them at risk of drying up.

The proposed course has never been far from controversy, and this latest opposition is another hurdle that any development will have to overcome if it is to come to fruition.

Tony Burke, the Australian federal environment minister, has requested an assessment of the project before a decision is made on its future.

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