Thursday, May 30, 2024

Plibersek pulls plug on wetlands development

Minister for the Environment, Tanya Plibersek, has today signalled she will reject a housing and retail development proposed for Toondah Harbour, near Brisbane.

Toondah Harbour is part of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site, which is recognised as a wetland of international importance.

“I have made my proposed decision, which is to protect Moreton Bay from unacceptable impacts from a proposed development,” said Ms Plibersek.

“These wetlands are rare, unique and important to prevent the extinction of animals like the eastern curlew and loggerhead turtle. My proposed decision says that we can’t destroy portions of this internationally important wetland.

The Minister is inviting comment on her proposed decision before she makes her final decision.

“I made my proposed decision after considering the relevant assessment material, visiting the site and meeting with the company as well as local residents, businesses, representatives of the Quandamooka people and environmentalists.”

“I am making my proposed decision public so that the tens of thousands of people who have made public comments on this have a chance to respond. I want to hear from them before I make my final decision,” she said.

Walker Corporation is proposing to develop a mixed use residential, commercial, retail and tourism precinct on the wetlands site. Construction was proposed to occur through dredging of the wetland with the sediment obtained through dredging used for a process of land reclamation over a 15 to 20 year period.

The Minister’s proposed decision found that the removal of 58.7 hectares from the internationally protected wetland was an unacceptable impact.

She also ruled that the development would have an unacceptable impact on a range of threatened and migratory species including loggerhead and green turtles, the eastern curlew and the grey-tailed tattler. It will also have a significant impact on dugongs, dolphins and other shorebirds.

Over 26,000 comments were made on the development when its Draft Environmental Impact Statement was released to the public.

The Minister has formally advised Walker Corporation who have 10 business days to respond to the Minister’s proposed decision.

Ms Plibersek says she will assess feedback on the proposed decision before making a final decision.

Local MP, Don Brown this morning expressed his disappointment at the Minister’s decision.

“This is a disappointing result. Over $3 billion investment lost to the local economy, hundreds of job for local tradies and thousands of homes blocked in the middle of a housing crisis,” he said in a statement online.

“Federal Labor cannot turn their back on Redlands after this decision. They need to show where they are going to fund infrastructure to support housing in Redlands.

“As a scientist, let’s also be crystal clear with this fact. Toondah Harbour is not environmentally protected now. It is dredged regularly and has high sentiment due to being a working port.”

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