A key strategy to protect the Great Barrier Reef and create up to 28,000 jobs in Galilee Basin mines has been submitted to the Commonwealth Government for approval.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Planning and Infrastructure Jeff Seeney said the Abbot Point Port and Wetland Strategy would pave the way for dredge material from port development to be used on land instead of disposed at sea.
“Since our election in 2012 we have worked hard to develop a plan that eases Queenslanders concerns about off-shore disposal of dredge material and allows for the sustainable development of a world class port to support Queensland’s resources sector,” Mr Seeney said.
“This plan achieves both those goals and delivers a win for jobs and a win for the environment.
“We are confident that, if approved by the Commonwealth, we can have state-owned land ready to receive dredge material for when licenced dredging activity begins next March.
“What is even more exciting is that this strategy provides an opportunity for nearby wetlands to be preserved and enhanced for the benefits of locals and visitors to North Queensland.
“We are inviting the local community and environmentalists to work with us to restore freshwater flows to degraded areas of the wetland, expand its area and consider access points for the general public to boost tourism activity in the area.”
Mr Seeney said there would be some in the environmental community who would oppose development of any type, but most Queenslanders would see this as a breakthrough strategy that offers a much-needed alternative to sea disposal of dredge material.
“I am proud of our State Government’s record in scaling back Labor’s plan to dredge 38 million tonnes of material from channels at Abbot Point,” he said.
“We have reduced that to just 3 million tonnes and will next month introduce legislation to Queensland Parliament to restrict port development in Reef waters to existing ports.
“Our government is determined to strike a balanced approach that will deliver jobs and business opportunities to communities like Bowen, Mackay, Townsville and Rockhampton and at the same time protect the Great Barrier Reef and nearby environment.”
The Abbot Point Port and Wetland Strategy will:
– Help protect the reef by placing dredge material from port expansion in a defined onshore area rather than at sea;
– Secure the future of the port by beneficially reusing dredged material for future development;
– Improve the wetlands by preserving and enhancing their ecological value and implementing long-term management plans;
– Clearly delineating the boundary between port industry land and wetland protection areas via a rail embankment.
Mr Seeney said pending Commonwealth Government approval under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Action 1999, construction work on the onshore area will start in January 2015, enabling dredging to start on schedule in March 2015.
Press Release, October 5, 2014