Hi again everyone
Here is a more detailed analysis of the key issues surrounding the proposed
developments at Moolap and Avalon - thanks to Geelong Field Naturalists for
the permission to post this.
*THE MOOLAP SALT WORKS DEVELOPMENT DEBATE KEY ISSUES*
*MOOLAP SALT WORKS*
*In 19TH century, coastal salt marsh on the southern shore of Corio Bay was
converted to 460 hectares of salt works, run by Cheetham. Active until
2007, it has been decommissioned. Though artificially constructed it has
provided essential feeding and roosting grounds due to its non tidal nature
for 20+ species of shorebirds. The site also provides important nocturnal
roost sites not available elsewhere. Many of these birds are migratory
species breeding in the Arctic regions of Siberia and Alaska migrating to
Australia via the East Asian Australasian Flyway, and are therefore
protected under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation
Act (EPBC Act) The site provides refuge and feeding grounds for a total of
48 bird species with significant populations, some breeding, or having
special conservation status.
Although an industrial site for much of that history, and managed to that
end, the nature of construction and management of the site has produced
significant ecological values at the local, regional and international
scale. Though somewhat degraded in recent years, it maintains much of its
- Approximately a 235 ha residential and industrial/employment
development at the Moolap site, constructed substantially from infill of
the existing wetland/coastal lagoon system.
- Construction of large (100 ha) ‘embayments’ in the adjacent coastal
waters in Stingaree Bay from substantial dredging operations (and from
which ‘fill’ for the proposed development site will derive), producing in
the order of 6-7 million cubic metres of material. Corio Bay is well known
to contain large amounts of toxic substrate and heavy metals and there are
concerns about contamination of fisheries and water qualities for
aquaculture, as well as reducing the quality of infill that makes up the
- Construction of an ‘offset reserve’ at the old Avalon salt works site.
Much of this is degraded over 30 years of disuse.
The fundamental significant impacts of the development are:
1. Permanent and irreversible destruction of a precious wetland that
2. Provides food, foraging, shelter for a number of threatened and
migratory bird species of national and international significance. There
are multiple international treaties, legally binding under the EPBC Act, to
which Australia is a signatory that behold us to protect the birds and
their required habitat, since they move between international boundaries.
Rapid development and reclamation in crucial East Asian feeding stopover
sites have already put immense pressure on these birds. Further pressure on
these birds at their over wintering sites in Australia is likely to result
in further declines in shorebird populations. The site is one of the very
few breeding sites in Victoria for the threatened Fairy and Little tern.
The loss of a 460 hectare chunk out of the jigsaw of the few available
wetlands has to have a significant impact on the remaining bird populations
of the region. This will have this impact on relevant species or
populations of species overall, i.e. in the context of their lifecycle,
mobility patterns and habitats, feeding, roosting, breeding.
The proposal should be considered as *having clearly unacceptable
significant environmental* *impact*.
We also have great concerns on issues relating to, but not limited to,
*preservation of this inundation prone site as a buffer and conservation
zone in the face of predicted rise in sea levels, as they have in many
other parts of the world.
*contamination of fisheries and aquaculture by raising 6-7 million m3 of
bay substrate for infill.
* Geelong region already has many planned housing developments numbering
many 10’s of thousands of homes in other less sensitive areas. Geelong’s
G21 Regional growth plan states that it is designed to avoid areas of
*WHAT ARE WE DOING?*
The Geelong Field Naturalists’ Club is the oldest environmental
organisation in the Geelong region. The GFNC has had a long association and
interest in the Moolap Salt works site. The Club and its members have
undertaken regular studies, observations and analysis of flora and fauna at
the site, notably its avifauna, ecology and vegetation for over 40 years.
We are writing a formal submission to the Federal Environment Minister to
oppose the proposal and at the very least request formal environmental
assessment. We urge that the degraded wetlands be returned back to
productive environmental habitat.
We are meeting with many relevant local and State politicians over the next
several weeks to flag this unacceptable proposal.
Longer term GFNC aim to work towards creating a single West Port Phillip
Bay Coastal Park incorporating the many fragmented coastal wetlands between
Geelong and Point Cook.
*WHAT CAN YOU DO*
Please submit a brief letter of opposition to the proposal around the
issues raised above to the Federal Environment Minister *to be received* *by
Friday 30th November* at website below with the following title;
* Submission in response to Ridley Corporation Limited Geelong
Salt Fields Urban Renewal Project, Reference Number: 2012/6630***
Email address for Public Comment
*Fax*: 02 6274 1789 Or post to:
*Referral Business Entry Point, EIA Policy Section (EPBC Act)*
Approvals and Wildlife Division
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601
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