Capricorn Conservation Council (CCC) welcomes the UNESCO report which expresses “extreme concern” about the rapid increase of coastal developments, including ports infrastructure, in and around the Great Barrier Reef.
“Considering the high rate of approvals over the past 12 years, this unprecedented scale of development affecting and potentially affecting the property (Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area) poses serious concerns over its long-term conservation,” says the UNESCO report.
UNESCO says the area could be listed as a World Heritage Site in danger if “threatening” developments are allowed to proceed. The “in danger” status could be applied if the federal government does not give the world heritage committee evidence of substantial progress before February 1.
The UNESCO report has also found that “There is a range of unaddressed concerns regarding the protection and management of the port and LNG facilities in Gladstone Harbour and on Curtis Island and the protection of its surrounding environment.” The report recommends an independent review of the management of Gladstone Harbour. CCC fully supports this recommendation, given the huge environmental problems in Gladstone Harbour and the difficulty in extracting scientific information from the authorities.
The UNESCO report recommends that Australia should “not permit any new port development or associated infrastructure outside of the existing and long-established major port areas.” “This means No Coal Ports in Keppel Bay.” said a CCC spokesman.
CCC has been campaigning, along with Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance (KAFDA), to prevent the development of major coal ports in Keppel Bay at the mouth of the Fitzroy River. While Premier Campbell Newman has stated that halting port growth is not an option, he has also said that “We shouldn’t be building a multitude of new ports, and we won’t be” (ABC radio news, June 3).
“We urge the RRC Mayor Margaret Strelow, GRC Mayor Gail Sellers, and Member for Keppel, Bruce Young to hold the Premier to this statement.” said a CCC spokesman.
Dredging Today Staff, June 11, 2012; Image: westernbasinportdevelopment