Environmental impact assessment of Toondah Harbour development plans

Walker Corporation's 'Master Plan' for Toondah Harbour (click to enlarge)

Walker Corporation’s ‘Master Plan’ for Toondah Harbour (click to enlarge)

Plans for dredging and land reclamation for development of the Toondah Harbour area have been referred by Walker Corporation to the Federal Government for consideration of environmental impacts.

Members of the public can review the information that Walker Corporation has included in its referral and make comments to the Federal Government no later than Tuesday 8 December.

After considering the information provided by Walker Corporation, and comments from the public, the Department will then decide if the project requires assessment and how it should be done.

Walker Corporation’s Toondah referral information

Toondah Harbour Project approval process - prepared by AECOM (click to enlarge)

Toondah Harbour Project proposed approval process – prepared by AECOM (click to enlarge)

Documents available for viewing at this time include:

Commenting on EPBC referrals

Comments on Walker Corporation’s EPBC referral from Wildlife Bayside are available here. It is a well written submission which addresses important issues.

Some information about making comments on EPBC referrals is available from organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund, the Environmental Defenders Office (Qld ) and the Federal Government. Some links are provided below.

Useful documents from WWF EPBC Unit

Federal Government advice on making comments about EPBC referrals

Advice from the Environmental Defenders Office (Qld)

Who should assess the environmental investigation?

Walker Corporation is proposing that the Queensland Government should assess the investigation of matters of national environmental significance. In section 2.5 of its referral document, Walker Corporation says:

If the proposed project is declared a ‘controlled action’ under the EPBC Act, the project assessment is proposed to be
conducted under the Queensland environmental assessment bilateral agreement.

Walker intends to seek declaration of the project as a ‘coordinated project’ under the State Development and Public Works
Organisation Act 1971 (SDPWO Act) to streamline environmental assessment processes. It is proposed that the Coordinator-General’s coordinated process will address the assessment requirements of the EPBC Act (if deemed a ‘controlled action’), Marine Parks Act (excluding assessments for marine park permits) and development applications under the SPA.

The idea that the State Government should coordinate the assessment of Federal environment issues is a major cause for concern. The Queensland Government is very strongly in favour of this project and can not be considered a suitable party to perform unbiased and impartial decision making based on scientific evidence. Any Toondah investigation process overseen by the Queensland Government would lack credibility.

The project has been established under the Economic Development Act 2012 which is not covered by the Bilateral Agreement.

The assessment of this project as a controlled action should be undertaken by the Federal Government.

International significance of southern Moreton Bay

Researchers examining a dugong in Moreton Bay

Southern Moreton Bay’s environment is significant for two reasons. It is a Ramsar wetland and also an important habitat for thousands of migratory shorebirds.

The Ramsar Convention was established in 1971 to protect wetland environments around the world. Australia is one of 168 countries to sign up. The Moreton Bay Ramsar site has been protected since 1993 because of its biodiversity including many vulnerable species.

The Bay’s seagrass beds support a significant dugong population and many species of turtles including Green, Hawkesbill and Loggerhead.

Eastern curlew feeding on the mudflats near G.J. Walter Park, Cleveland

Eastern curlew feeding on the mudflats near G.J. Walter Park, Cleveland

Each year Moreton Bay is visited by 50,000 migratory shorebirds. During our warmer months – from October to April – more than 30 different shorebird species live in this area busy feeding to build up energy for their return trip along the East Asian–Australasian Flyway. Australia has signed agreements with China, Japan and Korea to protect many species of migratory shorebirds and their habitats.

The largest and most easily identified shorebird visitor to Moreton Bay is the critically endangered Eastern Curlew, notable for its long curved bill.

 

Redlands2030 – 6 December

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One thought on “Environmental impact assessment of Toondah Harbour development plans

  1. The development is inappropriately positioned as it intends to sit in a RAMSAR site. Additionally as an oceanographer I can attest that altering the shoreline will alter circulation in the area impacting upon the marine ecosystem. Additionally if Queensland is to move toward improving resilience of coastal communities to sea level rise building in a reclaimed area (that currently is at or below present mean sea level) is in complete opposition to this aim. Queensland already has too many inappropriate coastal developments it is struggling to protect from coastal hazards and as such should not be attempting to build more. This site will require extensive costly human intervention in order to sustain it as a residential site in the future. The developers will reap the financial benefits of this inappropriately sited project while the tax payers will have to pay for its continued protection. In contrast wetland environments provide much needed buffering against the impacts of both sea level rise and coastal hazards such as storm surges. We need more wetlands not less.

    Regards

    S.B. Lee

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