New plans for dredging and land reclamation for development of the Toondah Harbour area have been referred by Walker Group to the Federal Government for consideration of environmental impacts.
Members of the public can review the information that Walker Group has included in its referral and make comments to the Federal Government no later than Thursday 25 May.
Of some concern is that the new plans show even less detail than the previous scheme.
In December 2015, the first referral of the Toondah project was lodged. Now a new proposal has been lodged which and supposedly after consideration of the information provided by Walker Corporation, and comments from the public, the Federal Department will decide if the project requires assessment and how it should be done.
Local media, the Redland City Bulletin announced the new Toondah referral without any consideration of the murky process used to abandon one referral and start another. The Bulletin never even provided any analysis or critique that might assist people wanting to participate in the referral process.
Walker Group has published an open letter on its change of plans but it does little to shed light on the motivation for the change.
The silence of the Redland City Council, all Councillors, the Member for Cleveland, the Member for Bowman and of course the Deputy Premier on the startling change of direction is amazing. In fact the silence is deafening given how much spin was used to promote the benefits of the previous proposal. If the new proposal is really better why didn’t it emerge in lieu of the first attempt?
Walker Group’s Toondah referral information
The Referral number is 2017/7939 and documents available for viewing at this time include:
- Referral document
- Assessment of Potential Impacts on the Ecological Character of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland
- Assessment of Potential Impacts on EPBC Act Threatened and Migratory Species
- Site aerial map:
- Site context map
- Submissions Report 2014
- Marine Ecology EPBC’Referral report
- Terrestrial ecology report by BAAM
- EPBC Act Protected Matters Search Tool Results and Wildlife Online Database Search Results for Toondah Harbour PDA
Some of the reports from the previous referral may be of interest, and are listed below:
- Land tenure (map) Attachment C
- Threatened species and eco-communities (map)
- Listed Migratory Species Habitat (map)
- Expert Advice in Ecology 2013 (report)
- Migratory Shorebird Assessment (report)
- Ecological studies (report)
- Migratory Shorebird survey (report)
Commenting on EPBC referrals
Comments about Walker Group’s EPBC previous referral from Wildlife Bayside are available here. It is a well written submission which addresses important issues and may serve as a template to those concerned about the ultra short period for submissions.
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
Who should assess the environmental investigation?
Walker Group is proposing that the Queensland Government should assess the investigation of matters of national environmental significance. In section 1.14 of its new referral document, Walker Group says:
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
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.
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.
The well established koalas in the vicinity of Toondah harbour will also trigger the provision so of the EPBC Act. The Koala Action Group‘s koala tracking project has further highlighted the importance of Toondah to koalas. The impact of 3,600 apartments and associated cars, disturbance etc will be concentrated in a high density residential area. The outcome, almost certainly will be the demise of the local koalas.