|Mangroves in Yandina Creek Wetland|
|Map of Yandina Creek Wetlands|
|The wetlands are sustained by tidal water flowing through broken floodgates|
The land was sold to the family by Scott Trevor, a doyen of the region's sugar cane industry, who resides on an adjoining property. Mr Trevor now tells supporters of efforts to protect the wetlands that he will be subleasing Lot 3 RP148079 from the family to restore sugar cane plantations. He believed that Lot 4 RP14809 would be utilised for cattle grazing, although some cattle would also be grazed on Lot 3. Significantly, Mr Trevor advised that the floodgates will be repaired later this year when drier conditions permit - probably in September - so that the wetlands can be drained. He said the substantial costs involved in repairing the floodgates would be shared between him and the landholders. Mr Trevor indicated that neither he nor the landholders were concerned about the potential implications of their plans under Commonwealth, State or council laws and regulations. However, Mr Trevor said no leasing agreement had yet been signed.
Uncertainty surrounds this development. The landholders may have legal advice indicating that continuing a technically existing use for the land (sugar cane growing) - instead of converting its primary use to grazing - may make it easier to avoid potential pitfalls in Commonwealth, state and council laws and regulations. Leasing the biggest property (Lot 3) to another title holder may make it more difficult for authorities to act. However, importantly, restoring the floodgates would appear to comprise an "action" in any event under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, triggering its provisions.
|Yandina Creek Wetlands|
It has also been pointed out that coastal wetlands on the east coast of Australia are underlain by estuarine sediments potentially containing acid sulfate soils. Drainage of the wetlands could lead to drainage of the groundwater and oxidation of acid sulfate soils, leading to acid discharge into Yandina Creek and the Maroochy River, potentially affecting water quality and fish habitat. Draining can also result in the development of acid scalds on the soil surface. Sunshine Coast Council maps show that much of the land in question is subject to an Acid Sulphate Soils overlay. The council has been asked to ensure that, in the event that the land is not acquired for conservation purposes, all of its planning regulations are complied with.
Several supporters have suggested that notwithstanding Mr Hunt's intervention, legal action should be initiated in the Federal Court to ensure that the drainage plan does not proceed. It has been pointed out that the wetlands are a nationally significant site under Commonwealth law, and are potentially an internationally significant site. Any such legal action is outside the resources of supporters of the conservation plan. However, the Queensland Environmental Defenders Office has been asked to consider the matter.