Petition that could put spanner in $1.4b mega project
ENVIRONMENTALISTS have called the council to task, demanding they urge the State Government to revise the boundaries of the Toondah Harbour priority development area.
In a petition presented to Redlands City Council at a general meeting last week, BirdLife's Kathy Clark urged the council to request the Palaszczuk government redraw the borders to stop development encroaching on the Ramsar-listed wetlands.
Almost 500 residents have signed the petition which, if supported, would put the brakes on a $1.4 billion Toondah Harbour mega-project at Cleveland.
Ms Clark said the development, which still has to clear federal environmental assessment hurdles, would threaten migratory shorebirds including the critically endangered eastern curlew.
"Is this the legacy of this council? Is this what you want to leave your children and grandchildren?" she said.
"We have signed an international treaty and this should be respected."
Moreton Bay, where Toondah Harbour sits, was declared a Ramsar site in 1993.
In 2013, the State Government declared Toondah Harbour one of Queensland's first priority development areas.
The Walker Corporation were selected as the preferred developer for the site in 2014.
The group's ambitious project includes 3600 new homes, a ferry terminal and marina facilities, swimming lagoon and a South Bank-style foreshore parkland with retail and dining.
Councillor Paul Gleeson said Ms Clark's petition was premature and the group was "jumping the gun" because the Environmental Impact Statement was yet to be undertaken and was expected to take 18 months.
"It's a 25 year project - some people are forgetting that," Cr Gleeson said.
"At the end of the day the EIS is one of the most intense impact studies we've ever seen in Australia.
"If it does come back that it is environmentally destructive then there's not a councillor in there that would vote for it."
If the State Government were to redraw the Toondah Harbour boundaries, it would likely cause major obstacles for Walker Corporation.
The company's spokesman Dolan Hayes said the current site was vital to the progress of the state's priority development area.
"It is close to the material that would be dredged from the shipping channel to bring it up to a safe, efficient standard, which is the key component to fixing the port," he said.
Mr Hayes said the Toondah Harbour project would generate $34.8 million each year for the area, would invest $175 million to attract some 50,000 additional visitors annually and create 1000 jobs each year during the construction phase.
"This project is about striking a balance between the significant economic and job benefits the redevelopment will deliver, while protecting the environment," he said.
"It's important to appreciate that the total area of the Moreton Bay Ramsar site is 120,350 hectares. The State Government priority development area overlap with the Ramsar site represents 0.03 per cent of the total area of the Moreton Bay Ramsar site."
But BirdLife's southern Queensland convener Judith Hoyle said if approved, the Toondah Harbour project would set a "dangerous precedent" for other Ramsar-listed wetlands.
"It's a Ramsar site, it's a key biodiversity area in danger, it's in a marine park, it has critically endangered and vulnerable migratory shorebirds that are protected under a raft of international treaties and we cannot protect it," she said
"Australia's nature laws are completely broken."
She stressed that the Birdlife group was not anti-development, just "anti development of the Ramsar site".
The petition will now be considered by chief executive Andrew Chesterman and a report will be made to the council.