Chosen few threaten Redlands environment

Dredging in Moreton Bay

Dredging near Toondah Harbour

I will highlight the looming ecological atrocities which may be sanctioned and perpetrated by the Local and State Governments in the Redlands enviroment over the next few months.

The 200th anniversary of the passing of the great mariner Matthew Flinders was recently marked by the unveiling of a statue in England to commemorate the occasion. I make reference to Flinders as he was the first white man to experience the majesty of Moreton Bay before its abject exploitation and degradation for the justification of “economic prosperity” which has occurred relentlessly since Governor Gipps sank in the rich spoil grounds adjacent to Cassim Island and Cecil Fison surveyed the entrance channel leading to Toondah Harbour.

Little Egret at Oyster Point

Little Egret at Oyster Point

Since then we have seen the obliteration of 100 hectares of critical coastal wetland vegetation on the western boundaries of the internationally recognized Moreton Bay Marine Park. These Ramsar listed habitats, encompassing the mangrove ecosystems surrounding Oyster Point, Toondah Harbour and Sandy and Cassim Islands (as well as Weinam Creek) should be spawning grounds for fish such as mangrove jack, snapper, bream and flathead. Mud and blue swimmer crabs and brain coral reefs should live here. Healthy seagrass meadows should support dugongs, turtles (Green, Loggerhead and Hawkesbill), rays and a diversity of shark species in this area. All of this marine biodiversity is at great risk of being entombed under dredging sediment for a marina breakwall and tenement slum development.

Cassim Island

Cassim Island

In collusion with a select group of developers, governments have approved the razing of all existing green space and wildlife corridors at Kinross and Pinklands to make way for residential small lot housing. There appears to be tentative support for the influx of thousands of dwellings between Redland Bay and Pt Talburpin.

After the Newman Government was elected a four year study into the volumes of water being extracted from North Stradbroke Island was quashed and suppressed due to the damning results which would have exposed the unsustainable impacts on the freshwater aquifers. These fresh water resources are already under extreme pressure supporting Redland City’s existing population.

With barely ten inches of rain falling since last July, the incumbent decision makers want to allow potentially another twenty thousand residents to become reliant on a finite and precious water resource which is only replenished by annual precipitation. The clear felling of the last remaining tracts of significant forests around Woodlands Drive and the Mt Cotton Catchment will contribute to further decline in rain fall and exert undue reliance on Stradbroke Island’s fresh water aquifers.

Blue Lake on North Stradbroke

Blue Lake on North Stradbroke Island

If the fresh water levels are depleted to the point where salinity equilibriums become dominant then a roll over effect may result. This could then lead to Blue and Brown lakes becoming salt reservoirs which would be an unprecedented ecological calamity which can never be repaired or restored.

Another major threat to the biological foundations of North Stradbroke Island is the extension of sand mining leases by the State Government, potentially allowing unfettered activities until 2036. Sand mining activities compromise the finite supplies of water and in the process create a low level radioactive aftermath never publicized by regulatory authorities. This is why they restrict public use of rehabilitated sand dunes and do not disclose the damage which has afflicted ground water reserves over decades of abuse.

Sand Mining on North Stradbroke Island

Sand Mining on North Stradbroke Island (click to enlarge)

I hope that when considering the demands of vested interest with their obsessive intent to exploit our community’s life force for financial gain, the current Council fully considers the consequences of their actions.

As a community, we need to scrutinise the actions of our local council and the State Government closely and let them know that we are watching them. We need to ask these elected representatives the tough questions and remind them of their obligations to act in the public interest. This includes safeguarding our natural environment so that it can sustain us for many many more generations.

Are we going to have Eldorado for the chosen few?

Or Apocalypse Now!

Troy Robbins

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3 thoughts on “Chosen few threaten Redlands environment

  1. Troy, I would like to comment on a couple of points you make that concern the island. Yes it is true that the Logan Basin water resource plan draft amendment that included North Stradbroke Island (the largest source of water for Redlands) was quietly quashed at the end of 2012 before deliberations were finalised. I was on the community reference panel, along with Quandamooka representatives and other islanders, that met over the period 2007-2012. A great deal of analysis of the island’s groundwater systems was undertaken in that time (and that research has been published online, an important resource for the future management of the aquifer). Redland City Council commenced taking water from North Stradbroke Island in 1983 without any environmental assessment research. The long drought that lasted into the 2000s brought this policy lapse into sharp focus. When the government proposed taking an additional 22 megalitres a day from the island – again, without an environmental impact study – the island environmental group, Stradbroke Island Management Organisation, supported Quandamooka calls for proper studies into the aquifer. Risk that excessive extraction could breach the freshwater/saltwater interface is ever-present, and if this were to occur, the entire island ecology, which depends on the aquifer, would be under threat. Brown Lake, a perched lake, is not susceptible to fluctuations in aquifer levels; however, Blue Lake is a window lake connected into the aquifer system and would be contaminated if saltwater intrusion occurred. Recharging rates are a fascinating but difficult study: there is no direct correlation between rainfall events and aquifer recharge. Mining uses huge amounts of water; and although this water stays on the island, there are big question marks about the effects of moving vast quantities from one one side of the island to the other. Also, we do not know the long-term hydrological effects of mining down to 100 metres and homogenising internal dune systems, destroying the varied bands of hard and soft sand that filter and direct water in complicated patterns. As to why the community reference panel was disbanded, we may speculate that the State Government was cost-cutting.
    Regarding the low-level radioactive waste that is returned to the island: there are strict regulations covering what must happen to radioactive waste; we understand the mining company buries it to a depth of 10 metres; we cannot know about compliance matters. To my knowledge, there is no evidence of low-level radioactive material contaminating the island aquifer, but I am not aware whether or not there is active testing for this. Until mining leases are relinquished, no one is permitted access onto them. This covers rehabilitated areas.

  2. The passion for a public interest is welcome. Too bad so many elected to advocate for and make decisions in the public interest forget that that is the role of elected officials. Private interests get all the attention and money BECAUSE these are private interest able to advocate, cajole and influence policy makers and decision makers. It is one sided and the results in NSW are evident…if similar policy settings were used north of the Tweed I suspect the headlines on the Courier Mail would look just like the SMH.

    We should demand a like approach in terms of political donations and the declaring of these donations.

  3. Troy you are such a well versed and well informed resident. I recall standing with you and Cr Deb Henry trying to stop the clearing of prime Koala habitat and significant bushland which was approved by Mayor Seccombe and his mates In Weippen Street Power to you

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