EDO gives local people a strong legal voice to stand up for their communities and natural environment in the face of threats from over-development. From 2008 to 2010, EDO represented community group, Save Ralphs Bay Inc, against a proposed 460-lot canal housing and marina development in a conservation area at Lauderdale. This would have been the first canal estate proposal in Tasmania.
Ralphs Bay is a wide shallow bay in the Derwent Estuary, south-east of Hobart. The bay contains one of the most biodiverse salt marsh vegetation communities in southern Tasmania and ecologically important sandflats.
The $300 million proposal by Walker Corporation generated widespread community opposition, with concerns including:
- Development in a declared conservation area, recognised for its foreshore and marine habitat values
- Destruction of habitat for resident and migratory shore birds
- Loss of threatened salt marsh vegetation
- Dredging of heavy-metal laden sediments
- Impacts on the threatened Spotted Handfish through sedimentation and reduced water quality
- Removal of recreational areas, including one of Tasmania’s premier windsurfing locations
- Inconsistency with the State Coastal Policy 1996
EDO guided Save Ralphs Bay Inc through legal options and opportunities for community input into the assessment process, identified key issues and liaised with expert witnesses to address those issues. After more than four weeks of hearings, the Tasmanian Planning Commission determined that the proposal was “inherently unsustainable” and recommended that it be refused. The Premier subsequently supported the recommendation and refused to grant a permit for the development.