GBRMPA ap­proves dredge spoil to be dumped in­side marine park

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

THE chief au­thor­ity for the Great Bar­rier Reef has ap­proved the dump­ing of three mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of dredged spoil in the marine park, near Ab­bot Point.

A state­ment from the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park Au­thor­ity (GBRMPA) last Fri­day con­firmed the de­ci­sion to al­low the per­mit to dump the spoil about 25km north-east of the port, in­side the marine park.

The de­ci­sion has an­gered en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and Whit­sun­day tourism op­er­a­tors but it has been wel­comed by the coal in­dus­try, with the dredg­ing to make way for an ex­pan­sion of coal ex­port fa­cil­i­ties at the port.

GBRMPA chair­man Dr Rus­sell Re­ichelt said he recog­nised the amount of de­bate and com­mu­nity con­cern, but that the ap­proval was in line with the agency's view that any port de­vel­op­ment should be within the bounds of ex­ist­ing ports.

"As a deep­wa­ter port that has been in op­er­a­tion for nearly 30 years, Ab­bot Point is bet­ter placed than other ports along the Great Bar­rier Reef coast­line to un­der­take ex­pan­sion as the cap­i­tal and main­te­nance dredg­ing re­quired will be sig­nif­i­cantly less than what would be re­quired in other ar­eas," Dr Re­ichelt said.

"It's im­por­tant to note the seafloor of the ap­proved dis­posal area con­sists of sand, silt and clay and does not con­tain coral reefs or sea­grass beds." The au­thor­ity said there were 47 new en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions placed on the dump­ing of the spoil, in ad­di­tion to many al­ready placed on the project by En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Greg Hunt.

The ap­proval is the fi­nal step in a long line of hur­dles for pro­po­nents North Queens­land Bulk Ports, which have en­dured sev­eral de­lays in decisions, partly due to the fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign last year.

Ru­mours of le­gal ac­tion are al­ready cir­cu­lat­ing, with the Whit­sun­day com­mu­nity in­vited to meet at an­other Reef Hour tonight at 5.30pm and the Whit­sun­day Sail­ing Club.

DREDG­ING AP­PROVED: The Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park Au­thor­ity has ap­proved the dump­ing on dredge spoil.

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