EIS Process Overview Talk Toondah Recording
Thursday 30th July 2020, 6:00pm
Questions answered during the session:
- 3:10: I'd like to understand your program and approvals required along the way.
- 7:25: How long will the public comment period be for the EIS submission and how will public submissions/comments be used in the report?
- 12:55: Are the tailored guidelines available to the public now?
- 13:50: Are the informal state PDA guidelines publicly available?
- 15:00: Will the consultation process simply be information dissemination or will the community have a real/genuine opportunity to influence the outcome?
- 18:35: How much money has Walker Group budgeted to spend on the EIS process?
- 21:35: Are the Quandamooka people going to be consulted as part of the EIS process?
- 23:00: When in the program is the ferry upgrade proposed after the start of the works?
- 25:10: Craig's recent answer and the language used by the majority of people/experts in the Walker information videos implies that the project approval is a foregone conclusion. An EIS is to assess impact and determine if impact is unacceptable or not. Why is a foregone approach being taken by Walker?
- 30:30: How can the Toondah Harbour proposal complement the Cleveland CBD?
- 34:10: How much of the project will be inside the RAMSAR wetland? In square metres and percent.
- 35:30: Due to the large amount of dredging the project will require, will you be doing testing on the mud in the harbour? Will you share all these results with the public?
- 41:00: What is the extent of infrastructure works outside of the PDA? In particular, roadworks?
- 44:24: Do you welcome peer reviews and independent testing? How important will the 1988/89 Cleveland Assessment be and will it play a part in baseline reference?
- 48:02: Have you been meeting with the Department of Environment as part of the EIS process?
- 50:17: You mentioned the project could not avoid the Ramsar wetlands. Has the Ramsar Secretariat been engaged during the EIS process?
- 53:40: How do you reliably assess the ecological impact of 3600 people living on a ramsar asset if it has never been permitted before nor has any riparian development of this sheer size and scale ever been attempted in a marine nursery area. What baseline references are you using to make this assessment?
- 58:04: Have developments of this size and scale ever been attempted elsewhere in the world in Ramsar areas? What have you learnt from those prior attempts and what will Walker do differently to counter any adverse impacts?
Responses to unanswered questions from the EIS Process Overview Talk Toondah Recording session
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.