â€śHaving World Heritage Status over a massive commercial harbour like the Port of Gladstone is akin to having a nature conservation zone declaration over the Queen Street Mallâ€ť according to Leo Zussino, Chief Executive Officer of the Gladstone Ports Corporation.
â€śWhen the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, which includes Gladstone harbour, was gazetted in 1981, the Ports Corporation was undertaking a massive 22 million cubic metre dredging program.
â€śNo one seemed concerned then or since as the Corporation has continued significant port development in line with our 50 year strategic plan.
â€śHowever, now we have the Greenâ€™s environmental spokeswoman, Larissa Waters and others, arguing that dredging in a World Heritage area should never have been allowed,â€ť Mr Zussino said.
â€śSuch an argument is nonsense, but if the Greens are effective in swaying public opinion then the option of simply realigning the World Heritage boundaries to accord with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park boundaries must be considered.
â€śThe Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is what the World Heritage status was designed to protect, not our harbour.
â€śThe Port of Gladstone is one of the finest commercial harbours in our island nation and we must be allowed to continue to develop port facilities and infrastructure in a sustainable way, in accordance with our long standing 50 year strategic plan and Australian and Queensland environmental laws.
â€śOur port underpins the economic development and prosperity of the entire Central Queensland region,â€ť Mr Zussino concluded.
Dredging Today Staff, January 5, 2012; Image: westernbasinportdevelopment