Walker Group’s Toondah plan is unacceptable

Walker Group

Serenity of G.J. Walter Park would be ruined if Walker Group’s proposed 3,600 apartment development went ahead

A Redlands resident urges the Federal Government to reject Walker Group’s proposed Toondah residential development as being clearly unacceptable.

The submission says Walker Group’s proposed investment in apartments is not critical infrastructure and should not be allowed to justify the destruction of  protected Ramsar wetlands and endangered wildlife, including migratory shorebirds and koalas.

Re: Walker Group Holdings – proposed Toondah Harbour development – Reference Number: 2017/7939

Dear Sir/Madam,

I submit the following response to the proposed Toondah Harbour Development by Walker Group Holdings.

I’m sitting at G.J. Walter Park right now – the site of much of the proposed development. I often come here. It’s a place that exemplifies for me all that is fabulous about the Redlands. The simple, natural beauty of an unspoilt foreshore, a place to step back from the bustle of daily life and refocus on whats important.

It’s not the views. It’s not the park, as such. Its the serenity.

My children love it here too. They refer to it as “the boat park” based on the play equipment, but when the excitement of playing with the playground equipment is long gone, they can still be found collecting shells, throwing stones of ever increasing sizes into the ocean and shouting out “look at me Dad”. We will often spend a couple of hours here; learning, growing, making memories, enjoying what makes the Redlands special.

I also take them to a marina development very nearby sometimes. They are bored after half an hour. I think that says something.

These are, of course, just my personal reflections. Irrelevant, I’m sure, to your decision making process, but considering the “Why” of your Department, possibly just as important?

However, considering the things that are (or I assume should be) important to you, in your deliberations, I submit the following.

I submit that approval of this proposal should be rejected because it is likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance protected by the EPBC Act.

More specifically, I urge rejection of the proposal for the following reasons:-

A. It is very similar to the previous proposal referred under the EPBC Act by the Walker Group in November, 2015 (EPBC referral Ref: 2015/7612), but withdrawn by Walker on 4 May, 2017. The withdrawal followed an unprecedented six suspensions of decision making by the Federal Government. It is obvious the Federal Government had very serious concerns about the proposal’s impact on matters protected by the EPBC Act and there is little reason for this view to change.

B. The latest proposal still involves dredging and reclamation of over 40 hectares of the protected Moreton Bay Ramsar site. This by itself should be sufficient to refuse approval, but there are many other reasons which also call for refusal.

C. Developers including those who donate to political parties such as the Walker group of companies, should not be able to profit from real estate developments constructed on publicly owned areas protected under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

For information about donations from Walker companies to political parties, see http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/cleveland-harbour-developers-political-donationsrevealed- by-aec-20170201-gu32gx.html and http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/toondah-harbour-plan-raises-donations-questions-20161206-gt4tze.html and http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/former-labor-powerbroker-graham-richardson-caught-up-in-new-icacinquiry-20141205-1217ha.html

D. There are a number of migratory bird species which inhabit the area in and/or around the proposed reclamation area, most of which is Ramsar protected. They feed and/or roost in these areas. These birds are protected under the EPBC Act. They include the critically endangered Eastern Curlew and the critically endangered Great Knot, whose numbers have declined substantially in recent years. Australia is also a party to other international agreements designed to protect migratory birds.

E. A significant koala population inhabits the foreshore area included in the proposal. This has been documented by koala groups and is well known. How could the koalas survive the proposed construction, the increase in traffic during and after construction, the likely increase in the number of dogs in the area and other related threats?

F. The referral documents (eg the map included in the summary of the report by frc environmental) also reveal that more than half of the Ramsar protected wetlands area to be reclaimed under the proposal is covered by seagrass, which is part of migratory bird feeding grounds and is also important to other species inhabiting the area, such as dugongs and turtles, and for fish and prawn breeding. The importance of seagrass is even recognised by the Queensland Government – eg see – https://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/coastal/ecology/marine-habitats/seagrass.html

G. Other areas of Moreton Bay are at risk of being affected by dredge spoil and other current carried pollution, not to mention construction noise over 15 to 20 years, plus on-going noise from up to 10,000 people who would inhabit the proposed 3,600 dwellings to be constructed, including over the top of currently protected wetlands. The Redland City Bulletin reported in May, 2017 that Walker’s proposal still involved 3,600 dwellings – the report can be read here.

H. The proposed development is not for critical infrastructure which in some circumstances might be considered to justify destruction of Ramsar wetlands, although in these circumstances, where critically endangered migratory birds will be impacted, it probably would not.

I. The North Stradbroke Island ferry departure point has been misused by the proponent and some of its supporters in an attempt to justify the destruction of Ramsar wetlands for the massive real estate development proposed. The ferry/ water taxi terminal is not in need of anything other than a modest upgrade which could be undertaken by the ferry company, Sealink, which made a record profit last year and record interim profits this year – http://redlands2030.net/stradbroke-ferries-helps-sealink-postrecord-profit/ and http://redlands2030.net/bay-ferries-boost-sealink-results/

J. The proposed ferry/water taxi terminal shown in the proponent’s plans is significantly smaller than the current area occupied by the ferry and water taxi departure points. Also, the traffic problems created by the proposed construction and large scale residential and retail area are likely to inconvenience users of the ferry terminal.

K. We do not have a shortage of dry land which could be purchased in the usual way by a real estate development company wishing to profit from the construction of a residential development in South East Queensland.

L. The last time the Walker Group wanted to dredge and reclaim important (but not Ramsar protected) wetlands, which was near Hobart, the Federal Government refused approval even though the nearest Ramsar wetlands were 12 kilometres from the proposed development site ( EPBC Ref: 2006/3193 –
Walker Group – re: Lauderdale, Tasmania). For more information and for a link to the Federal Government’s Refusal Notice, click here.

M. At Toondah Harbour, the proposal is to destroy a section of the Moreton Bay Ramsar wetlands. Also, the indirect threats from current carried dredge spoil and other pollution relate to Ramsar wetlands which surround the proposed development site and extend to a distance of 12 kilometres from the proposed
development site.

N. Applying the same logic as was used by the Federal Government to reject Walker’s Tasmanian proposal, it is likely that large sections if not all of the Moreton Bay Ramsar site would be at risk of damage from current carried dredge spoil and other pollution from the proposed development site.

O. The reasons for rejecting approval are over-whelming. In particular, as it involves the destruction of a section of the protected Moreton Bay Ramsar wetlands site, I urge you to reject it as being clearly unacceptable.

Thank you for your consideration of this. I’m sure my children will also thank you in the future.

Name withheld by Department of the Environment (s47F)

24 May 2017

(FOI 170702 Document 37)

Other submissions about Walker Group’s EPBC referral

Submissions about Walker Group’s proposed Toondah Harbour project were obtained by Redlands2030 through a crowd funded Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The Federal Government says that in response to Walker Group’s latest EPBC referral there were 1,419 submissions – 1,411 opposing and eight supporting the project.

Other submissions about Walker Group’s proposed Toondah project are discussed in these Redlands2030 stories:

Property Council advocates for Toondah project

AMCS says Marine Park is too valuable to risk

Infrastructure Association supports Toondah

National Parks Association Toondah submission

Straddie Chamber supports Toondah project

Don’t take Toondah treasures from us

Sealink profit up but Straddie route challenging

Redlands2030 – 21 September 2017


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One thought on “Walker Group’s Toondah plan is unacceptable

  1. The Toondah Harbour Proposal was originally supposed to be a simple upgrade of the ferry terminal and increased parking. The proposal has turned into a multi-million dollar unit development that would make big money for a few but destroy the sensitive Ramsar Wetlands in the process, along with adjacent koala habitat. It would ultimately make the parking problems much worse, not better. It is surrounded in false figures related to jobs, population increase and misleading artist’s impressions of the end result. In a word it is a “disgrace” and the people making money from large donations from the developers are obviously supporting the proposal.

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