Resident says changes to Toondah proposal are no more than cosmetic

DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL: Graham Carter says the right site for a harbour for North Stradbroke Island ferry traffic is at existing facilities at Raby Bay, not increasing the size of Toondah.
DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL: Graham Carter says the right site for a harbour for North Stradbroke Island ferry traffic is at existing facilities at Raby Bay, not increasing the size of Toondah.

WALKER Corp’s revamp of its $1.4 billion Toondah Harbour development is no more than cosmetic tinkering, says resident Graham Carter.

Mr Carter said although the marina size would be reduced, the residential part of the development had not changed, meaning it was still proposed to cater for more than 10,000 people, almost doubling Cleveland’s population.

Walker ‘s Queensland general manager Peter Saba has withdrawn the company’s original submission to the federal government.

His new proposal will see the marina cut from 340 berths to about 200 and the buffer zone increased between and its outer wall and Cassim Island to protect habitat and help ease fears about impacts on birds and marine life.

Mr Carter, who runs a website on population and environment issues, said the newly proposed minimum buffer of 100 metres was insufficient.

The project would still entail a major dredging operation, with damaging mud plumes drifting across Moreton Bay.

Mr Saba said changes to the proposal included reducing the development footprint, increasing buffer zones and hiring an independent expert to develop a methodology for assessing potential impacts on the ecological values of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland.

Mr Saba said technical reports were being updated in relation to endangered and threatened species and environmental and engineering issues were being revisited.

Mr Carter said the channel needed constant dredging which kicked up mud, killed marine creatures, damaged seagrass meadows and wiped out 50 hectares of adjacent coral beds.

“The channel cuts across wetlands featuring sandbanks, mudflats and mangroves which provide habitats for fish, crustaceans, dugongs, turtles and feed-grounds for endangered shorebirds. 

“It will mean tens of thousands of trucks carting spoil through town for over 10 years and 15 years of dirt and noise while it’s being built,’’ he said.

“And don’t think we need to put up with this because the harbour needs an upgrade. Toondah Harbour doesn’t need renovating, it needs relocating.

“The present location is unsafe, unsound environmentally and unsightly.

“More vessels go aground here than anywhere else ... because the entrance channel is narrow and difficult to navigate in strong winds, and with drying banks either side there is no margin for error.

Mr Carter called for the North Stradbroke Island departure point to be moved to Raby Bay in the vicinity of the existing VMR and boat club premises.

He said marina design consultant, John Mainwaring had told a conference in 2014 that the area was much more suitable for harbour facilities.

Mr Carter said the Raby Bay marine environment had been killed off in the 1980s by dredging and mangrove removal and was protected from prevailing southerly winds.

“The existing channel doesn’t cross any environmentally sensitive zone and could be widened for commercial craft and there’s space nearby for car parking and infrastructure,’’ Mr Carter said.