The Australian Marine Conservation Society has called on the government to clarify its plans for the fast tracking of the proposed Abbot Point dredging, dumping and port expansion.
While a spokesperson for Federal Environment Minister Mr Hunt told The Australian newspaper that the proposals for the dredging in the Reef’s waters and dumping on the sensitive wetlands at Abbot Point would require “a full environmental impact assessment,” this is not true.
Felicity Wishart, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, said that Mr. Hunt’s office was at best confused and at worst being misleading, as the official decision notice clearly states the project will be assessed on “preliminary documentation.”
Under Australia’s environment legislation this is distinctly different to a project being assessed by “Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).”
“It would appear Mr. Hunt’s office is misleading the Australian public about how effectively he will assess the new Abbot Point dredging and dumping plans,” said Ms Wishart.
“The Minister’s decision is supporting the Queensland Government’s fast tracking of Abbot Point port expansion.
“It would appear that the Queensland government is under pressure from the mining industry to fast track this dredging and dumping rather than doing a proper EIS.
“It is not the role of the Federal Environment Minister to give special treatment to the coal companies behind the Abbot Pt dredging; his role is to protect the Reef.
“The Minister should have required a full EIS on the new plans for dredging in the Reef’s waters and the dumping in a Great Barrier Reef wetland. Now he needs to reassure the community that he will not fast track the approvals,” said Ms Wishart.