Coomera Connector Stage 1—Environmental management

The Department of Transport and Main Roads is committed to managing its road network in a manner that enhances environmental outcomes for natural, social and built environments.

Protecting the environment is an important part of planning for new road and infrastructure projects. To ensure the Coomera Connector is designed and delivered in an environmentally sensitive manner, Transport and Main Roads has been working with a range of subject matter experts and stakeholders.

For several years, extensive environmental investigations have been underway along the Stage 1 corridor, including:

  • wildlife surveys to determine habitat values for native fauna, including koalas
  • flora surveys to determine the presence of protected plants
  • aquatic ecology surveys and water quality monitoring, including a 2-year survey within and adjacent to Coombabah Lake.

The information and data collected from these surveys has been used to determine what measures will be taken to meet legislative requirements and investigate opportunities to enhance important wildlife corridors.

Environmental approvals

Environmental approvals for Coomera Connector Stage 1 were progressed with the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Transport and Main Roads developed a Public Environment Report (PER) addressing the requirements under the EPBC Act for impacts on Matters of National Environmental Significance.

The department is also working closely with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science as well as the City of Gold Coast to ensure all state and local government legislative requirements are addressed.

Protecting koalas

Recognising the importance of koala populations, Transport and Main Roads has developed a Koala Management Plan for the Stage 1 project.

The Koala Management Plan guides the design and implementation of measures to help understand the extent and health of the koala population in the vicinity of the Coomera Connector with the aim of ensuring koalas are appropriately protected during the project’s construction and operation.

Conservation strategies forming the basis of the Koala Management Plan include:

  • undertaking koala capture, health checks and ongoing monitoring to provide baseline data on koala populations and home ranges
  • relocating koalas found within the Coomera Connector corridor to Pimpama River Conservation Area
  • ensuring koala populations already in the Pimpama River Conservation Area are healthy
  • best practice fauna movement infrastructure to facilitate the movement of koalas in wildlife corridors
  • working with all levels of government to establish potential future koala habitat areas (offsets) and maintaining important wildlife corridors.

Wildlife protection initiatives

The Coomera Connector Stage 1 design includes new and upgraded fauna passages to assist wildlife in moving around their natural habitats, and fauna fencing will be installed to reduce the risk of vehicle strikes on the new motorway.

Adopting innovations from other Transport and Main Roads projects will form part of the design, including:

  • installing fauna exclusion shields to deter wildlife from climbing noise barriers
  • installing clear acrylic panels on noise barriers and pedestrian safety screens that include some form of pattern to minimise the risk of bird strikes
  • planting low-flowering vegetation in the centre median of the motorway to minimise fauna attraction to these plants.

Transport and Main Roads recognises that during vegetation clearing and construction works there can also be considerable impacts to wildlife. As a result of ongoing consultation with local environmental advocates, Transport and Main Roads has ensured contractors for each package are well-informed of their legislative responsibilities and has shared with them a draft Wildlife Spotter and Catcher Code of Practice. The Code—written by the Director of Endeavour Veterinary Ecology, Dr Jon Hanger—provides best practice guidelines for contractors to follow during their works program, and at the time of tendering Transport and Main Roads strongly recommended they adopt the Code’s practices.

a number of wooden posts with connect planks of wood, set up under the bridge
Artist’s impression: fauna passage.

Vegetation management

In addition to native vegetation being key to the Gold Coast’s biodiversity, Transport and Main Roads understands the value mature trees and dense vegetation provide to local communities and the benefits they provide for improved air quality, screening and general amenity. However, for a project the size of the Coomera Connector, vegetation clearing is unavoidable. Despite the challenges, Transport and Main Roads is committed to retaining and planting as much vegetation as possible.

It is important to note that Transport and Main Roads must follow the same legislative processes as commercial developers when assessing environmental impacts and cultural heritage significance on construction activities, including obtaining all necessary vegetation and tree clearing permits. Tree clearing of significant flora species will not begin until all legislative approvals are in place.

To re-establish vegetation screening, embankments may be landscaped with native and other appropriate species of trees, shrubs and other ground cover. However, a significant portion of new plantings will include younger saplings and tube stock to give the plants a better opportunity to adapt and grow in their new soil conditions.

Air quality

One of the primary objectives of the Coomera Connector project is to alleviate congestion on the Pacific Motorway. It is expected that decreasing traffic congestion will help improve air quality emissions in general.

While this may help address concerns about pollution from future traffic growth, the Coomera Connector includes a significant commitment to improving active transport connections for pedestrians and bike riders, which will increase opportunities for more active and environmentally-friendly travel.

As part of Coomera Connector Stage 1, 2 new air quality monitoring base stations were installed—one at the Coomera Sports Park on Beattie Road, Coomera and the other within the Park n Ride facilities at the Parkwood Light Rail station on Smith Street, Parkwood. Air quality monitoring and data collection will be ongoing.

Further information on how we manage the effects of road traffic on local air quality, and ensures legislative compliance, can be found on the Road Traffic Air Quality Management Manual page

Water quality

Water quality management is a necessary environmental responsibility on all projects. Parts of Coomera Connector Stage 1 will be heavily interacting with local waterways, so various measures will be in place throughout the project including:

  • installing permanent water quality management measures such as swales and basins
  • a surface water and groundwater monitoring program
  • retaining natural vegetation and buffers near waterway
  • installing gross pollutant barriers
  • a stormwater management plan and erosion and sediment control management plan.

More information