Birdlife campaigners say the Toondah Harbour priority development area boundary should be changed

AT TOONDAH: Birdlife representatives Kathy Clark and Judith Hoyle, with Crs Paul Bishop and Wendy Boglary at GJ Walter Park which is part of the Toondah Harbour priority development area. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough
AT TOONDAH: Birdlife representatives Kathy Clark and Judith Hoyle, with Crs Paul Bishop and Wendy Boglary at GJ Walter Park which is part of the Toondah Harbour priority development area. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough

BIRDLIFE campaigners say the Toondah Harbour priority development area boundary should be changed to stop it encroaching on the Ramsar-listed wetlands.

Birdlife southern Queensland convenor Judith Hoyle said there was a legal mechanism that allowed the council and state government to revoke sections of the PDA that encroached on the Ramsar site.

In a petition signed by nearly 500 Redland residents, the campaigners called on the council to ask the state to revise the boundaries of the Toondah Harbour PDA to exclude wetlands in the Moreton Bay Ramsar site.

Cr Wendy Boglary said that she had presented the petition - which would be considered by chief executive Andrew Chesterman and a report made to the council - because she was listening to people's concerns and had concerns about infrastructure and the development's environmental impact.

Asked to comment on the request for the boundary change, deputy mayor Lance Hewlett said that he too had environmental concerns and was looking forward to the outcome of environmental impact study.

Ms Hoyle said that Birdlife and organisations like Redlands2030 and the Australian Conservation Foundation would ramp up their campaign against the project because it was not what the community wanted.

She said Walker Corporation had said it was developing Toondah as an example of what could be done with Ramsar sites.

"They (Walker) are saying that this is a good thing and, my god, it's the antithesis of that," she said. "It's a bad thing...And it's a global ripple out effect that we are fighting against."

Walker Corporation spokesman Dolan Hayes Birdlife should not pre-judge the robust environmental assessment process that was getting under way.

"The best scientists are now looking at the potential impact on migratory bird species and the facts will speak for themselves," Mr Hayes said.

He said Walker was focused on striking the right balance between the jobs and opportunities the Toondah Harbour project would deliver and unlocking access to the bay in the most environmentally sensitive way.

"Toondah Harbour is and will remain a working port," Mr Hayes said. "More than a million people travel on the barges, ferries and water taxis that move through the existing Ramsar area every year, in close proximity to the bird roost sites.

"Through the works on the site and through offset and compensation measures we are aiming to achieve an overall net environmental benefit as a result of the redevelopment."

Ms Hoyle said land near the terminal could be developed.

"It could deliver jobs in a sustainable way," she said. "We are not anti-development. We are anti development of the Ramsar site."

She said that the 3600-unit development proposed by Walker Corporation would destroy part of the wetland and impact on liveability and traffic.

"We're here for the birds but let's put the birds aside," Ms Hoyle said. "What we need is a sustainable development where we respect nature (and) respect that the ferry terminal does need to be upgraded."

She said Cleveland and the harbour needed to be rejuvenated but destroying wetland was unnecessary.

Ms Hoyle said the site had critically endangered and vulnerable migratory shorebirds that were protected under a raft of international treaties. The eastern curlew population had dropped by more than 80 per cent in 30 years.

"Moreton Bay has been identified as the most significant habitat for eastern curlew within Australia," she said. "We have a custodial responsibility."

Campaigner and Capalaba resident Kathy Clark told the council that the $1.4 billion proposal was atrocious.

"We have no right to destroy this habitat," she said. "Who would build 10 storey apartments out in the bay in the mud? ... It's the most insane thing."

Ms Clark said that just four out of the hundreds of people she had spoken to about Toondah supported Walker Corporation's proposed development.

The petitioners also called on the council to embrace the values of the Ramsar wetlands and the wetlands' wildlife and ecosystem in its tourism strategy, implement a site management plan for the site and ask the state government to ensure greater protection of Ramsar areas in the Moreton Bay Marine Park zoning plan.

A separate petition to the state government has 4370 signatures.

What do you think? Submit your letter to the editor using the form below.