Responses to unanswered questions from the EIS Process Overview Talk Toondah Recording session
Why is the Walker Corporation appealing the right to information decision if all is transparent and above board?
The Toondah Harbour Development Agreement has been subject to detailed scrutiny by Council and the Queensland State government and their advisors. It contains commercial in confidence information and Intellectual Property that Walker Corporation as a company naturally would not release. We note that the Infrastructure Agreement associated with the development is already publicly available. We are appealing the decision of the Office of the Information Commissioner Queensland on that basis. Walker Corporation won the rights to redevelop Toondah Harbour following a public expression of interest process. We have been open about the project Masterplan and have actively sought feedback from the Redland Coast community over the past few years and continue to seek feedback as part of the community engagement associated with the environmental impact assessment process. Different levels of government enter into commercial agreements with the private sector every day and their commercial information is similarly held in confidence. This agreement is no different.
What did they [Walker] learn from the failure to develop Ralph's Bay, Tasmania, which was miles away from Ramsar wetlands but refused? What consideration can be applied here to eliminate the environmental concerns that denied that application, that might be expected to have far more significant impact of the TH development proposed directly upon a marine nursery and Ramsar wetlands that past city state reports claim are essential to 52% of the Queensland economy?
The two projects are unrelated.
The proposal to redevelop Toondah Harbour was conceived by State and Local Government, not Walker. The Toondah Harbour development proposal predates Walker's involvement by a number of years. In June 2013, the State Government declared a PDA at Toondah Harbour pursuant to the Economic Development Act 2012 (ED Act) to provide opportunities for community infrastructure including new ferry terminals, open space and tourism infrastructure, as well as mixed use and medium density residential development and a marina. The Toondah Harbour PDA Development Scheme was approved by the state government on 29 May 2014, which adopts the vision and land use mix above and indicates the necessity for capital dredging and reclamation within the PDA. In July 2014 the State Government and RCC jointly tendered the development rights to their respective landholdings in the Toondah Harbour PDA to attract private sector investment in public and private infrastructure that will create tourism opportunities and improved amenity for the local community. Walker was selected as the preferred development proponent in June 2015 following a competitive bid process for the development rights. In January 2016 Walker entered into a development agreement with EDQ, Council and Redland Investment Corporation. The development proposal is a direct and unique response to the site's planning framework, existing uses, land tenure and economic development drivers.
In addition, the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site is covers an area of 120,654 ha which includes a semi-enclosed bay bounded by Moreton and Stradbroke Islands: three of the largest natural sand islands in the world. The site provides significant areas of wetland, seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh habitat for shorebirds and marine species including turtles and dugong. The Toondah Harbour Development Project will impact on approximately 32 ha (0.02%) of the Ramsar site and includes an existing port facility that is the launching point for vehicle and passenger ferries to North Stradbroke Island. Potential impacts from the development need to be addressed at the site level as well as in the context of the whole Ramsar site. These impacts will be addressed in detail through the EIS process.
Has a project like this ever proceeded despite it being on Ramsar protected wetland?
Contracting parties to the Ramsar Convention worldwide and in Australia have allowed development within Ramsar sites. There are many examples worldwide of projects proceeding within Ramsar sites, including urban, commercial, industrial, port and tourism developments. The Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site in Hong Kong includes a land use plan that allows some 'ecologically sensitive' development in the inner and outer buffer areas. This includes agreement that limited development could be considered in the outer part of the Deep Bay area if it makes a positive contribution to wetland conservation. In Australia, the Port Phillip Bay and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar Site includes significant urban development being constructed within its boundary, while the Western Port Bay Ramsar site includes a large commercial marina. There are also a number of examples of urban development incorporating and co-existing with protected wetlands (although not Ramsar) including Sydney Olympic Park which includes urban development incorporating nationally listed wetlands.
Given that 90% is in the Ramsar wetland, an international agreement, who approves the redefinition of the boundary?
There is no current proposal to delete from, or restrict the boundary of, the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site. If there was such a proposal, the Federal Government as the Contracting Party to the Ramsar Convention is the decision maker.
The Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area overlaps with the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site by 42 hectares. The Moreton Bay Ramsar Site was re-mapped by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science in 2018 and its official area increased from 113,314 hectares to 120,654 hectares. The proposed development will have a direct impact on approximately 32 hectares or 0.02% of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site.
Walker Group revised the project's master plan in 2018 (the subject of the current referral and EIS process) to reduce the footprint of the harbour redevelopment by more than one third and ensuring the development was contained fully within the PDA area.
But aren't you going to tip 7000 plus cars in and out of the PDA?
The source of the figure quoted is not known. Traffic impact assessment is currently being undertaken as part of the EIS process. The project will be carefully completed in stages. Walker expects the project to take 15 to 20 years from the commencement of construction, depending on market demand. There will not be a sudden influx of resident vehicles. Traffic impact assessment information will be available in the EIS report.
The other reclamation projects sound to be major port and infrastructure upgrades. Did they include large scale apartment complexes on reclaimed Ramsar wetlands as part of their masterplans?
Port upgrades were mentioned as they are the most recent and local examples of reclamations being used to create developable land. They are comparable as they have the same issue: capital dredging is required to expand their channels to allow more and larger shipping but they need somewhere to put the material and offshore disposal of capital dredged material in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is effectively banned.
The public expression of interest issued by Economic Development Queensland and Redland City Council for the Toondah Harbour PDA required the successful tenderer to undertake capital dredging to straighten, widen and deepen the entrance 2.55km long channel to the existing harbour (Fison Channel), and to extend the existing turning basin. Preliminary engineering analysis indicates that a minimum of 500,000 cubic metres of material would need to be removed from the channel. Removing and disposing of this material at land or marine-based disposal sites outside of the PDA presents significant environmental and logistical issues. If reclamation is not carried out, dredged material would need to be transported offshore or to a new on-land facility for disposal. The National Assessment Guidelines for Dredging 2009 state: "It is important to recognise the potential value of dredged material as a resource. Possible beneficial uses include engineered uses (land reclamation, beach nourishment, offshore berms, and capping material) agriculture and product uses (aquaculture, construction material, liners) and environmental enhancement (restoration and establishment of wetlands, upland habitats, nesting islands, and fisheries)." Walker proposes to beneficially reuse dredged material to reclaim land for urban development and to create new habitat, rather than transporting material to an alternative marine or land-based location. The project is designed to achieve a net balance between dredging and reclamation. This approach is being rigorously tested through the environmental impact assessment process.
Who will pay for infrastructure costs and how?
The Redlands community will benefit from nearly $116 million worth of community improvements through the Toondah Harbour project. The community infrastructure that is delivered under the Infrastructure Agreement is paid for from the infrastructure charges, which will be collected by Redland City Council from Walker Group. The charges paid by Walker Group are in line with the Council Adopted Infrastructure Resolution. The infrastructure charges are in-line with what Council would charge any developer in the Redlands, at that point in time. The remaining community infrastructure will be delivered under the Development Agreement.
Key infrastructure to be provided includes: complete upgrade of the marine channel and swing basin, new ferry terminals, ticketing and information facilities, a minimum of 1449 public car parks for ferry users (doe not include retail or residential parking), bus interchange, waterfront plaza, boardwalks, improvements to GJ Walter Park plus new foreshore parks and a water play area, recreational boating infrastructure, open space and wildlife corridors, road and cycleway upgrades, and service upgrades.
The Infrastructure Agreement may be amended following the decision on the environmental approvals and development approval phase of the project. Download a copy of the Infrastructure Agreement here.