Ab­bot Point strat­egy sub­mit­ted for ap­proval

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

A KEY strat­egy to pro­tect the Great Bar­rier Reef and cre­ate up to 28,000 jobs in Galilee Basin mines has been sub­mit­ted to the Com­mon­wealth Gov­ern­ment for ap­proval.

Deputy Premier and Min­is­ter for State De­vel­op­ment, Plan­ning and In­fra­struc­ture, Jeff Seeney, said the Ab­bot Point Port and Wet­land Strat­egy would pave the way for dredge ma­te­rial from port de­vel­op­ment to be used on land in­stead of dis­posed at sea.

"Since our elec­tion in 2012 we have worked hard to de­velop a plan that eases Queens­lan­ders con­cerns about off-shore dis­posal of dredge ma­te­rial and al­lows for the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of a world class port to support Queens­land's re­sources sec­tor," Mr Seeney said.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Seeney, the strat­egy will help pro­tect the reef by plac­ing dredge ma­te­rial from port ex­pan­sion in a de­fined on­shore area rather than at sea.

It will also se­cure the fu­ture of the port by ben­e­fi­cially re-us­ing dredged ma­te­rial for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment.

It aims to im­prove the wet­lands by pre­serv­ing and en­hanc­ing their eco­log­i­cal value and im­ple­ment­ing longterm man­age­ment plans and it will clearly de­lin­eate the bound­ary be­tween port in­dus­try land and wet­land pro­tec­tion ar­eas via a rail em­bank- ment. Whit­sun­day Res­i­dents Against Dump­ing (WRAD) spokesper­son, Brit­tney Gre­gory, said that while the group wel­comed the pro­posal not to dump the dredge spoil in the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park, “the wet­lands are cer­tainly not a vi­able or ad­e­quate al­ter­na­tive”.

“The Ca­ley Val­ley Wet­lands pro­vide breed­ing grounds for over 40,000 wa­ter­birds - in­clud­ing the threat­ened Painted Snipe. It is im­por­tant that the wet­lands are not used as dump­ing grounds, as they act as nat­u­ral fil­ters for the Great Bar­rier Reef [and] we don’t want to see what hap­pened in Glad­stone – where the dredged ma­te­rial leaked back into the wa­ter – hap­pen in the Ca­ley Val­ley Wet­lands,” Ms Gre­gory said.

“To change from want­ing to dump in one of Aus­tralia’s most iconic nat­u­ral des­ti­na­tions - The Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park - to now want­ing to dump in an in­ter­na­tion­ally sig­nif­i­cant wet­land is not ac­cept­able.”

Mr Seeney said pend­ing Com­mon­wealth Gov­ern­ment ap­proval un­der the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and Bio­di­ver­sity Con­ser­va­tion Ac­tion 1999, con­struc­tion work on the on­shore area would start in Jan­uary 2015, en­abling dredg­ing to start on sched­ule in March 2015.

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