North Queensland families have heard firsthand how the Queensland Government will help protect the Great Barrier Reef through a strategy to use dredge material from port development on land, rather than conventional sea-based disposal methods.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney told a public meeting in Bowen that the Abbot Point Beneficial Reuse Strategy would protect the natural wonder and allow for the sustainable development of the port.
“Our Government believes this landmark plan offers the strongest and most exciting opportunity yet to achieve a win-win for the environment and economic growth,” Mr Seeney said.
“We are delivering on our election promise to provide better planning and infrastructure and open up the resource-rich Galilee Basin.
“Labor had no long term plan for the region, the reef or development.
“Our strategy will strike a balance between protecting the unique values of the Great Barrier Reef and boosting regional economies.
“My trip to the port and the opportunity to address North Queenslanders in support of port development has reinforced for me that we cannot miss this chance to create jobs and economic opportunities across the region and the entire state.
“The Queensland Government will continue to support communities like Bowen build a strong future through growth in the tourism, resources and agriculture pillars of their economy.”
The Abbot Point Beneficial Reuse Strategy was launched last week and involves dredge material being placed on existing state land to the west of current port facilities, to lay the groundwork for future expansion. Existing man-made wetlands to the south will be enhanced by the creation of a habitat three times the size of the current wetlands.
“We aim to create a port facility that will serve Queensland industry for the next century and, at the same time, triple the area of existing freshwater wetland to support local flora and fauna,” he said.
“The State Government has appointed experienced project manager, Michael Schaumburg, to oversee this development, with work set to commence as soon as possible should Federal Government approval be granted.”
Mr Seeney said the Abbot Point Beneficial Reuse Strategy would be carried out in stages and consist of a series of enhanced land areas, linked to a low-impact single rail line development and sedimentation ponds to return seawater to marine wetlands.
“We are determined to make the right, long-term planning decisions for this port now, in the same way planning for the successful Port of Brisbane began decades ago,” he said.
“I look forward to working with Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell and Commonwealth Minister Greg Hunt to implement this strategy in time for the commencement of dredging in March 2015.”