The Queensland Resources Council welcomed proposed new ports laws, introduced into parliament today, which will increase reef protection while giving certainty to existing and future port operations.
The QRC Chief Executive Michael Roche said the Port Planning Guideline and Ports Bill 2014 would enshrine in legislation the Queensland Ports Strategy and add further protections to the Great Barrier Reef.
“The introduction of the Ports Bill 2014 is a significant milestone in the work that has been carried out to ensure the health and security of the reef,” Mr Roche said.
“The minerals and energy sector has been working with many stakeholders to ensure industry will continue to operate alongside the reef while upholding the best social, economic and environmental standards.”
The new laws will constrain development to the Priority Port Development Areas (PPDA), as foreshadowed in the Queensland Ports Strategy, and improve port planning, Mr Roche said.
“The Queensland Ports Strategy puts more than 99 percent of the World Heritage Area off limits and the remaining (less than 1%) constitutes existing port precincts that are vital to Queensland communities,” Mr Roche said.
“Those ports that will operate under PPDAs are Queensland’s long-established ports of Hay Point, Mackay, Gladstone, Abbot Point and Townsville.
“The Bill enshrines the ports strategy in legislation, and demonstrates that the Queensland government is serious about protecting our national icon.
“There is no direct evidence that dredging, port activities and shipping movements have adversely impacted the health of the reef, nevertheless, Queensland’s resource industries are committed to minimizing environmental impacts.
“No-one cares about the reef more than Queenslanders and through these laws our state is stamping its responsibility on protecting the reef for many generations to come.”