The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has today expressed concern that the new dredging and dumping plans for Abbot Point are being fast tracked and could be approved by Christmas.
Felicity Wishart, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, said it was reprehensible that such a dangerous and risky development in a precious area right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef could be rushed through.
The Queensland government has released reams of ‘preliminary documentation’ about this dredging and dumping project and given the community just ten working days to respond.
“This port expansion will see millions of tonnes of seafloor dredged up and dumped in the Reef’s sensitive wetlands, the natural filters and fish nurseries for the Reef and home to 40 000 shore birds,” said Ms Wishart.
“The Great Barrier Reef could be ruined with reckless industrialisation if the Abbot Point proposal is allowed to continue without adequate time to consider the risks.
“The state and federal governments are making all of the same mistakes that led to the environmental disaster in Gladstone Harbor.
“The toxic mix of poor regulations without adequate enforcement, fast tracked approvals, dredging and dumping behind poorly constructed seawalls was followed by sick fish, dead dugongs and the collapse of the local fishing industry.
“The Queensland government is hell bent on rushing this port expansion through and Federal Environment Minister has been complicit by not requiring a full environmental impact study and allowing community consultation to be the absolute minimum of only ten days.
“This rush means the Federal Minister could approve the port expansion and environmental consequences as early as Christmas.
“We need to remember that this new dredging and dumping plan has come about because of international outrage at the decision to dump in the Reef’s waters.
“The Queensland and Federal governments are failing in their obligations to ensure the toughest environmental scrutiny and standards for the protection of our most precious natural asset, the Great Barrier Reef,” said Ms Wishart.