AN APPEAL to stop the construction of a contentious Binalong Bay interpretation site was dismissed by the state's Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal last week.
The North East Bioregional Network lodged an appeal after Break O'Day councillors and the Department of Parks and Wildlife earlier this year endorsed the six-metre by six-metre lookout and walkway to be built at the People's Park, Boat Harbour Point.
The network's arguments for negative visual, Aboriginal heritage and increased usage impacts on vegetation and threatened plant species were rejected.
In October 2007, the platform was originally planned for Sloop Rock Point at Binalong Bay and in 2008 the council received $150,000 from the state government towards the project.
However, in December 2008, the location was rejected and changed to the People's Park at the bottom of Bayview Avenue following an Aboriginal heritage assessment.
Some residents believe the platform will be a visual burden for the area and want the structure to be built adjacent to the Binalong Bay Cafe.
Mayor Sarah Schmerl said construction would start as soon as possible in anticipation it would be complete by this year's peak tourism season.
She also said the council had made an application to have its costs of the appeal covered by the network.
Network president Todd Dudley said he was surprised by minimal interest from the Aboriginal community, given Aboriginal artefacts were located in the vicinity of the platform.
``The platform is a disgraceful waste of taxpayers money and will contribute nothing to the protection of the Bay of Fires or to tourism,'' Mr Dudley said.
``Council and Parks and Wildlife should focus on looking after the natural values of the area rather than promoting expensive and unnecessary infrastructure which degrades the scenic beauty of the Bay of Fires.''
St Helens Chamber of Commerce and Tourism president Heidi Howe welcomed the decision and thanked chamber member Peter Paulsen for initially championing the project.
She said the interpretation signage in particular would bring major benefits for tourism in the region.
The decision is subject to several minor conditions and a 28-day waiting period, during which an appeal can be heard in the Supreme Court.