Shorebirds at risk from Toondah project

Shorebirds like the Eastern Curlew are at risk if the Toondah Project proceeds

A critically endangered Eastern Curlew at Toondah Harbour where Walker Corporation proposes to build apartments

Critically endangered shorebirds are at risk from Walker Corporation’s proposed development at Toondah Harbour according to a specialist study group.

Qld Wader Study Group

In their submission to the Federal Government, the Queensland Wader Study Group says it is:

…extremely concerned about the potential impact of the proposed Toondah Harbour development on the ecological character of the Moreton Bay Ramsar site and the Moreton Bay Marine Park.

The Queensland Wader Study Group is a special interest group of the Queensland Ornithological Society Inc, better known as Birds Queensland. They say in their submission:

This proposed development will remove another 50.5 ha of migratory shorebird foraging habitat and will incrementally contribute to the on-going declines in the numbers of migratory shorebirds feeding in Moreton Bay.

The Wader Study Group’s submission concludes with:

We urge the Environment Department to refuse this development application on the clear unacceptable impacts on matters of national environmental significance…

Redlands2030 is publishing submissions about plans for dredging and construction at Toondah Harbour referred by Walker Corporation to the Federal Government for environmental assessment. The Wader Study Group’s submission is reprinted, in full, below.

Submission 4 – EPBC referral 2015/7612 Toondah Harbour

Queensland Wader Study Group
(A special interest group of the Queensland Ornithological Society Inc)

6 December 2015

Epbc.referrals@environment.gov.au

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Toondah Harbour Development Project, Cleveland, Queensland by Economic Development Queensland and Redland City Council. Ref No. 2015/7612

The Queensland Wader Study Group (QWSG) is extremely concerned about the potential impact of the proposed Toondah Harbour development on the ecological character of the Moreton Bay Ramsar site and the Moreton Bay Marine Park. The proposed 167.5 ha development footprint that plans to excise and fill 43.5 ha of intertidal and sub-tidal marine habitats will have a major environmental impact on the local and regional migratory shorebird populations. The BAAM (2014) migratory shorebird assessment found that there were up to 180 of the nationally Critically-Endangered Eastern Curlew Numenius magagascariensis that forage within the development or roost nearby. These tidal flats form part of a network of foraging habitats used by a large number of shorebirds that occur in Moreton Bay during their non-breeding season.

Eastern Curlew have recently been listed as Critically-Endangered under the EPBC Act due to the incremental loss of habitat that has occurred on their non-breeding grounds in Australia (Wilson et al., 2011) and their migratory stop-over sites in Eastern Asia (Yang et al., 2011). This proposed development will remove another 50.5 ha of migratory shorebird foraging habitat and will incrementally contribute to the on-going declines in the numbers of migratory shorebirds feeding in Moreton Bay. Wilson et al. (2011) found that migratory shorebird populations had declined by 62% in Moreton Bay during the previous 15 years. Nearby high tide roosts will receive increased disturbance from the increased human activity by the people living within the development. These birds are highly likely to abandon these roosts due to this increased disturbance as has been found elsewhere in Queensland (Milton and Harding 2011).

The nearby Nandeebie Park and Cassim Island high tide roosts can be used by over 2,000 migratory shorebirds (QWSG records in BAAM 2014). These large numbers of migratory shorebirds demonstrate that the intertidal areas within the development area are a critical part of the foraging habitat of these birds.

Besides the loss of key feeding habitats within a nationally-protected Ramsar site and state marine park, the increased human activity will have a demonstrated effect on the use of the remaining intertidal areas and high tide roosts adjacent to the site from increased human disturbance. Similar effects have been shown for a shorebird high tide roost in Mackay (Milton and Harding 2011). The proposed close proximity of the outer wall of the development at the western edge of the Cassim Island mangroves will also degrade these mangroves as a result of the stormwater runoff, increased urban refuse and altered tidal flow patterns.

We urge the Environment Department to refuse this development application on the clear unacceptable impacts on matters of national environmental significance and should not proceed to be assessed under the EPBC Act.

References

BAAM (2014). Migratory shorebird assessment for the Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek Priority Development Areas. Report prepared for frc environmental on behalf of
Walker Corporation. 17 pp.

Milton, D.A. and Harding, S.B. (2011). Death by a thousand cuts: the incremental loss of coastal high tide roosts for shorebirds in Australia: Sandfly Creek environmental reserve central Queensland. Stilt 60: 22-33.

Yang, H.Y., Chen, B., Barter, M., Piersma, T., Zhou, C.F., Li, F.S., and Zhang, Z.W. (2011). Impacts of tidal land reclamation in Bohai Bay, China: on-going losses of critical Yellow Sea waterbird staging and wintering sites. Bird Conserv. Int. 21: 241-259.

Wilson, H.B., Kendall, B.E., Fuller, R.A., Milton, D.A. and Possingham, H.P. (2011). Analysing variability and the rate of decline of migratory shorebirds in Moreton Bay,
Australia. Conserv. Biol. 25: 758-766.

Yours sincerely,

s47F

Queensland Wader Study Group

Publication details

This submission has been extracted from a pdf document containing information provided to Redlands2030 by Australia’s Department of the Environment.

This information became publicly available via the Department’s Disclosure Log following a Freedom of Information request which Redlands2030 understands to have been submitted by Walker Corporation.

In many cases, the name and contact details of the person or organisation making a submission have not been made publicly available, indicated by “S47F”.

Submission number is by Redlands2030, reflecting the order of publication on our website.

Here’s a link to posts containing reprints of other submissions:

All of the submissions made publicly available by the Government can now be accessed from the Redlands2030 website via these two links:

Published by Redlands2030 – 16 August 2016

Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email thereporter@redlands2030.net

3 thoughts on “Shorebirds at risk from Toondah project

  1. The CM’s “City Beat” business gossip column (16 Aug 2016) ran an account of the expensive Power Lunch last week at a top Brissie eatery. Billionaire property developer Lang Walker dined with people close to the Prime Minister, all arranged .
    Quote: Why the need for such a high-priced lunch? It’s understood Walker is fuming at the road blocks the Federal Government has thrown up in the way of his $1.4 billion Toondah Harbour project.
    Quote again: Environmentalists have warned the scheme at Cleveland could destroy the vital habitats of more than 20 migratory shorebirds, including the Eastern curlew.
    So tanty on, Mr Walker! When the birds have been “offset”maybe to China, there’s still more that the locals have pointed out, in spite of the nods and smiles of the Redland City Council and State Government.
    Waiting for Federal Government “approval”? Presumptuous indeed.
    We can’t wait to see the “koala sensitive design measures” mentioned either. Especially after nineteen furry fellas were counted last week by local koala spotters.
    One way to protect the koalas and migratory birds. Abandon the project. Go away.
    Council and State Government just fix the port and stop the rort.

    • You may be wrong. I had a look at the CM column City Beat and it could be that the fancy luncheon was arranged to break the bad news to Mr Walker that Federal Govt takes its responsibilities seriously when it comes to environment. i.e., he won’t get the nod for his Toondah Harbour project.
      Remember Federal Member Andrew Laming would have been keeping Canberra informed about just how important the Bay is and how locals are determined to see it protected.

  2. It’s said that great oaks from little acorns grow! Toondah Harbour started out small but grew into a monstrous development using up migratory shorebird habitat where endangered species fly non stop from Siberia to few sites, one being Toondah Harbour. Australia is signatory to the RAMSAR agreement and must be respected whereby endangered migratory species are protected! Planning of the area was done behind closed doors between Mayor Williams & Co with Walker Corporation, much to the surprise and shock of the Redlands community, who only wanted to see the messy car parking situation remedied, along with building a safe entry with ticketing for passengers using the ferries to and from island destinations. That was a first step. Message after message has been sent to Labor’s Deputy Premier Jackie Trad that simply reads: “Stop the rort, fix the port!”

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