ABBOT POUNT APPROVED
THE decision by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to approve the expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal has been labelled “shameful” by Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping.
Speaking on behalf of WRAD, Sandra Williams said the decision, announced on Tuesday, was also short-sighted and “deeply disappointing”.
“In order to maintain a safe climate for our coral reefs, we have to ensure coal remains in the ground,” she said. “This project will open up one of the biggest coal mines in the region - Adani’s Carmichael Mine – which will be a huge contributor to global warming and this, we know, is the biggest threat to the reef.”
She said the dredging of 1.1 million cubic metres of sea floor would remove sea grass, which was the only source of food for endangered dugongs, and create muddy plumes, which compromise the water quality.
Spokesman for Great Barrier Reef Divers, Tony Fontes, said the decision was a “disaster”.
“This project will produce no legitimate benefits for Queensland but will cause significant harm to the reef,” Mr Fontes, who is also on the Environment Council of Central Queensland, said.
“It means increased shipping, dredging of seabed and the mining and burning of more coal, which contributes to global warming – all of which would endanger the reef.”
Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said the government “was never going to allow anything that impacted on the reef”.
“There are very strict environmental conditions on the expansion,” he said.
“The spot they are dredging is 20km from the reef system and they have to use the lowest impact dredging technology they can. They also have to ensure protection of significant sea grass areas, and if the water quality blows out they will have to stop work and fix it.”
Whitsunday Regional Council has welcomed the approval, saying the continued development of Abbot Point was “critical” to the future growth and prosperity of the region.
“I am very pleased that Minister Hunt has recognised the project’s potential in terms of economic development, job creation and growth in the region,” Mayor Whitney said.
GO AHEAD: The Abbot Pt expansion has been approved.