Toondah turtles and dugongs’ escape from dredging signals protected areas off-limits to developers

In a win for turtles, dugongs, dolphins and shorebirds, conservation groups welcome the long-awaited announcement from Minister Plibersek that she intends to reject Walker Corp’s development project at Toondah Harbour.

Rejecting the development will save from destruction mangrove and mudflat wetlands that are listed as internationally significant for humans, plants and animals under the Ramsar Convention, and sends a message that protected areas like this should be off-limits to developers.

All eyes now turn to Minister Plibersek for a final decision after public consultation. The decision occurs against the backdrop of a need for strong nature positive laws under the revision of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act that work better for both the environment and business, and protect Australia’s unique animals and plants.

Queensland Conservation Council Nature Campaigner Natalie Frost said

It is positive to see this project on the chopping block, which would dredge up Toondah Harbour and destroy internationally protected wetlands and Queensland Marine Parks.

Threatened species like the bar-tailed godwit and eastern curlew will be saved by the rejection of this development. The eastern curlew is listed as a priority species under the federal government’s threatened species action plan released in 2022, so approving this project would destroy 40 hectares of known habitat.

Once we have assurance this project is rejected, mangroves will be left undisturbed and continue to help keep our shorelines healthy and safe from pollution and erosion and provide homes to many species.

The Redlands Coast community will continue to enjoy special sightings of healthy turtles or dugongs that call this harbour home.

Today's decision is a testament to the hard work and years of campaigning from locals passionate about saving the Harbour, including Redlands 2030, Birdlife Southern Queensland and ACF Community Bayside, who are part of the Toondah Alliance.

Rejecting the development at Toondah Harbour will demonstrate the opportunity our country has to make proposed new nature positive laws strong enough to protect areas of environmental significance.

These laws are still on the drawing board, and nature cannot be kept waiting.

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