BirdLife Australia to rally against Toondah Harbour development as part of International Migratory Shorebird Day to protect Ramsar wetlands

RAMSAR: A snapshot of Moreton Bay Ramsar internationally important wetlands, shaded darker blue. Photo: Environment Department mapping
RAMSAR: A snapshot of Moreton Bay Ramsar internationally important wetlands, shaded darker blue. Photo: Environment Department mapping

A BIRD group will host an event at Toondah Harbour that members hope will stop plans by Walker Corp to develop the site.

BirdLife Australia spokeswoman Judith Hoyle said more than 100 people would form a human chain on the mudflats on Saturday, May 11, as part of International Migratory Shorebird Day.

Ms Hoyle said the rally was being hosted to send a message to politicians about the importance of protecting wildlife. The message would be delivered one week ahead of the May 18 federal election.

"Our nature laws must be strengthened to protect these internationally important wetlands and the critically-endangered eastern curlew that rely on this site," Ms Hoyle said. "This development cannot go ahead."

The event will be at GJ Walter Park from 8am, with people encouraged to bring a picnic breakfast or turn up for a free sausage sizzle.

Walker Corp spokesman Dolan Hayes said the redevelopment would impact only 32 hectares - or just 0.03 per cent - of the 120,000 hectare Moreton Bay Ramsar wetlands.

He said counts had revealed that Toondah Harbour was used by at most seven eastern curlews for foraging. This was compared to the 3500 birds estimated to visit Moreton Bay seasonally.

Toondah Harbour was a port that was already disturbed by 30,000 vessels carrying one million people annually through the Ramsar site, he said.

Mr Hayes said he hoped BirdLife Australia appreciated that the environmental impact assessment was the best way to understand potential environmental effects.

"We welcome the opportunity for Birdlife to present its views and facts as part of the EIS," he said.

Ministerial discretion was used to list Toondah as a priority development area, allowing for plans that included 3600 units.

The EIS would involve geotechnical investigations, coastal processes modelling, design of marine works and stormwater modelling, he said.

UNDER THREAT: The critically-endangered eastern curlew forages for food at Toondah Harbour mudflats.

UNDER THREAT: The critically-endangered eastern curlew forages for food at Toondah Harbour mudflats.

Potential impacts on marine and terrestial ecology, fisheries, groundwater, cultural heritage noise, vibration and lighting and cumulative impacts and offsets would also be studied.

"Experts in all of these fields will be involved in the modelling, including impacts on migratory birds," Mr Hayes said.

Mr Hayes said the redevelopment would proceed only if Walker Group could demonstrate a net benefit for the Ramsar site through the implementation of avoidance, mitigation and offset measures.

"Those measures will be identified as part of the EIS and they will be made public in the Environmental Impact Statement," he said.

Walker Corp had previously flagged interest in buying bird habitat offsets in the Yellow Sea between China and Korea.

Many birds follow the East Asian Australasian Flyway migratory path from Australian feeding grounds to Arctic breeding sites, resting and refueling in the Yellow Sea.