The clock is ticking for the Labor Federal Government to decide on Walker Corp’s destructive Toondah Harbour real estate project.
A major test of the Albanese Government’s commitment to halting extinctions and recovering nature is on the horizon.
Walker Corporation, Australia’s largest private developer, has submitted its final plans to develop internationally significant wetlands and habitat for critically endangered birds and build 3,600 apartments in their place in Moreton Bay’s Toondah Harbour.
As a Ramsar wetland, Toondah Harbour is recognised as being of significant value not only for Australia, but for humanity as a whole.
In the coming weeks the Minister for Environment, Tanya Plibersek will make a final decision on whether she will uphold Australia’s national and international commitments to protect nature and threatened species and reject Walker Corp’s destructive plans or if she will hand over our environment to bolster a private company’s bottom line.
“Despite overwhelming public opposition and expert advice from BirdLife Australia and the scientific community that the project’s footprint must be changed, Walker Corporation has done little to change their project and are still planning to destroy internationally important Ramsar listed wetlands and critically endangered bird habitat” said BirdLife Australia CEO Kate Millar.
“If the Minister approves Walker Corp’s plans it will not only destroy important feeding habitat for one of Australia’s most endangered birds, the Eastern Curlew, it will also have global ramifications by undermining the Ramsar Treaty.
“There’s absolutely no environmentally justifiable argument for this destructive plan to go ahead within the boundaries of the Ramsar site.
“We know that environmentalists and bird scientists across the world are keenly watching the outcome of this process with grave concerns for the potential impact in other nations as well as to species in Australia.
“The population of Eastern Curlews has declined by over 80% in the past 30 years, largely due to similar coastal development projects across their range, and this development will also impact a number of other bird and animal species.
“We stand together with local residents in the Redlands who also want to protect this special place and what it means to their community.”
BirdLife Australia, and our international bird conservation partners, fully expect Minister Plibersek to uphold Australia’s national and international conservation obligations and reject this completely inappropriate project later this year.
· Walker Corporation’s Toondah Harbour project proposal disregards the sanctity of one of the oldest and most respected international conservation treaties, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Significance.
· Walker Corporation’s project proposes to permanently destroy over 40 hectares, or the equivalent of about 10 MCGs, of the treaty-listed Moreton Bay Ramsar Site to build a private luxury apartment and retail complex.
· The project area is an important feeding habitat for the Critically Endangered Eastern Curlew, a bird that flies to the site from the Arctic every year to spend its winter and one of 20 priority birds identified in the Federal Government’s new 10 year Threatened Species Action Plan.
· This level of private development within a Ramsar site would be unprecedented and could literally pave the way for similar projects within Moreton Bay, Australia and the world.