Media release

Environment Minister protects Victorian wetlands

Thursday, 25 January 2024

  • Estimated reading time 2min

Environment Minister protects Victorian wetlands and threatened shorebird habitat

Sets precedent for Ramsar Site protection

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has used national nature protection laws to stop the Victorian government’s plans to construct a wind turbine assembly plant within internationally important wetlands and migratory shorebird habitat at the Port of Hastings. The Minister declared the project proposal as “clearly unacceptable” due to the significant impacts it would have on the Western Port Ramsar Site and migratory shorebirds.

The proposed construction of the wind turbine assembly plant at the Port of Hastings would have involved extensive dredging, encompassing up to 92 hectares (227 acres) of the Western Port Ramsar wetland, along with the reclamation of 29 hectares of seabed, and would likely “cause irreversible damage to the habitat of waterbirds and migratory birds”
BirdLife Australia is pleased with Minister Plibersek’s decision that reflects a commitment to preserving these invaluable ecosystems, even in the face of economic and industrial development.

BirdLife’s Campaigns Manager Andrew Hunter said “The Minister’s decision not only addresses the potential environmental destruction of important wetlands at the Port of Hastings but also establishes a clear precedent for her to reject a similarly concerning proposal by Walker Corporation at Toondah Harbour.”

Walker Corporation, Australia’s largest private development company, has proposed a massive real estate project proposal at Toondah Harbour. Similar to the Port Hastings proposal, Walker Corp’s project would destroy an area equivalent to 10 Melbourne Cricket Grounds of the Moreton Bay Rasmar Site by dredging and reclaiming land to construct 3,600 apartments.

Mr Hunter said “The Minister’s recent decision to stop the Port Hastings proposal makes it clear that the reclamation and destruction of Ramsar Wetlands to facilitate construction is unacceptable under Australian and International law. This precedent setting decision together with Walker Corp’s inadequate Environment Impact Statement and the overwhelming public opposition to their plan lays the groundwork for the Minister to reject Walker Corp’s destructive proposal for Toondah Harbour.”

With a final decision anticipated in the coming weeks, the call to action has never been more urgent. BirdLife and its allies are encouraging as many individuals as possible to implore Minister Plibersek to carefully consider and reject Walker Corp’s proposal.

For media inquiries, please contact: Andrew Hunter, Campaigns Manager, 0449 935 184