Last week, 10 years after the then State Government designated Toondah Harbour as a priority development area and nine years after the Walker Corporation was named the developer, a final Enviromental Impact Study (EIS) was submitted to the Federal Government for Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to make her decision during a 40-day department review.
Proponents of the development have highlighted the meticulous EIS and robust public consultation process.
They cite it as being one of Australia’s most comprehensive environmental assessments.
Toondah Harbour spokesperson Dolan Hayes said a majority of the Redlands community had backed the $3 billion transformation of Cleveland’s Toondah Harbour through an EIS consultation process.
“Almost 60% of Cleveland residents and more than half of all Redland residents who made individual submissions wrote in support of the transformational project,” he said.
However, President of Koala Action Group Debbie Pointing disputes the claim, saying that a claim that most of the Redlands community support the proposal was highly questionable.
“After almost 10 years of campaigning against the development, our group is yet to speak to one individual who thinks it’s a good idea…,” she said.
The EIS said the most important point that should enable the Federal Government to approve Toondah Harbour is that it will deliver a net environmental benefit to the Moreton Bay Ramsar area.
However, Chris Walker of Redland2030, part of The Toondah Alliance, disagrees with the EIS’ proposed environmental benefit, labelling the project a potential ecological catastrophe.
The group points to the Ramsar wetlands’ sensitivity and the detrimental impact on endangered species such as the Eastern curlew and local koalas. He said he hoped the Minister, would issue a final rejection of the Toondah proposal.
President of Koala Action Group Debbie Pointing agrees: “At a time when the Federal government is making announcements of their goal to prevent any new extinctions by 2030, our group expects the Minister for Environment Tanya Plibersek to reject this proposal that threatens many endangered wildlife species, such as the endangered koala and critically endangered Eastern curlew.”
Key Findings of EIS
The EIS found there will be no ecological character change because of the project. Toondah Harbour includes 830 metres of Redland’s 330kms coastline and overlaps with only 0.03% of the 1,200 hectare Moreton Bay Ramsar area.
The EIS confirms significant urban development has occurred within and adjacent to Ramsar sites across Australia, and globally. Minister Plibersek would not be in breach of Australia’s obligations under the Ramsar or any other environmental agreement in approving the Toondah Harbour project.
Eastern Curlew do not roost at Toondah Harbour, their closest roost is over twice the distance of worldwide best practice separation from Toondah Harbour. An average of four Eastern Curlew were counted foraging at Toondah Harbour across five years of surveys. The project will not impact the lifecycle of these, or any, Eastern Curlew that visit Moreton Bay each year.
There will be no long-term indirect impacts to any marine habitat or fauna.
1,000 koala trees will be planted.
A dedicated fauna underpass will also be built to help koalas move around safely
Debbie Pointing of Koala Action Group response to EIS:
The EIS claim that no turtles, dugongs or dolphins use the impact area where residential towers are proposed to replace hectares of seagrass doesn’t consider that although there were no sightings at the time of the survey, it does not mean they do not feed there.
Additionally, while shorebirds may not roost on the site, many species of migratory shorebirds return to the Toondah Harbour protected wetland area annually to feed
Local koala numbers are not likely to be boosted if the proposal goes ahead, as the increase in traffic alone during the 20-year construction period will result in a decrease in numbers for the local koala population that regularly cross the local roads.
There is limited space to plant 1000 new trees.
For further information on the EIS, you can visit the EIS Virtual Information Centre on the Toondah Harbour website at www.toondah.com.au.