Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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