Original story by Damien Larkins and Russell Varley, ABC Gold Coast
Racehorse trainers and conservationists are angry at plans to fill in a wetland area near the Gold Coast Turf Club.
Trainers received an email on Thursday afternoon that work was going to start the next morning, as preparations continue for the Gold Coast Show to move to the Turf Club.
The email says the 2.75 hectare swamp area will be used for parking at the show and large race days but otherwise will be free for trainers to walk their horses the rest of the time.
Leading trainer Gillian Heinrich says she and several other people parked a ute across the access road to prevent trucks dumping dirt.
She says it’s a disgrace.
“There’s a swan there with six eggs that’s about to give birth, there’s a hundred ducks… there’s thousands of other birds that live in the area,” she said.
“It’s an absolutely beautiful 2.75 hectares of nature and they’re going to put in a car park for a show for three days.”
Ms Heinrich says she’s tried to contact the council to clarify the situation.
“At first I thought they must have had the wrong place, I thought they must be filling a little bit of swampland over somewhere else,” she said.
“This is actually known as an environmental lake according to the council for the last 30 years.”
She says locals weren’t given enough notice of the move.
“All of a sudden the trucks are coming in and they’re filling in the whole damn lake,” she said.
“When it suits the council they just cover it all in and bugger the birds.”
Wildlife Queensland outraged
Wildlife Queensland Gold Coast president Sally Spain is outraged and believes some of the birds may even be protected.
“We were absolutely gobsmacked when we saw the extent of the lake,” she said.
“The possibility and the expense of putting fill in here, it’s extraordinary, I can’t believes that the council is actually contemplating this.”
Trucks continued to enter the site in the afternoon, with residents instructing them to dump their loads away from the water.
“I’m hoping that there’s some vast mistake, that a huge lake is going to be filled in and hundreds of birds… are going to find themselves without any habitat,” Sally said.
The Gold Coast City Council and Gold Coast Turf Club have been contacted for comment.