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Decision over onshore barrier reef dredging put on hold by Australian court



Conservationists have gained more time as the federal court in Brisbane adjourned the case for the Queensland government to approve plans to dump dredging spoil from Abbot Point coal terminal onshore, where campaigners say it could damage the environment.

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The Mackay Conservation Group has opposed the dredging, which was originally intended to be dumped straight into the Great Barrier Reef. However, following protests and an u-turn by coalition MP George Christensen, the the consortium behind the Abbot Point expansion decided to shelve the project.

Queensland premier, Campbell Newman then said the federal government will look at plans to dispose the material onshore, but conservationists argued that this could harm the wetlands and said it needed time to look at the proposal in depth.

The group won more time to examine the North Queensland Bulk Port Corporation’s alternative plan for dumping and is also set to meet deputy premier, Jeff Seeney, to discuss the matter.

Mackay Conservation Group’s co-ordinator, Ellen Roberts, said, “We’ve seen a press release and a cobbled together map of the dredging and dumping plans. And we’ve had a pronouncement that dredging will begin by March next year.

“We asked the court today to put the case on hold until the state, the Commonwealth and North Queensland Bulk Ports resolve the uncertainty surrounding on shore disposal options.”

Despite the concern and outrage caused by the original plans that could harm one of the most delicate and already endangered ecosystem in the world, businesses and politicians rallied in Bowen in September against the ‘green attacks’, which they said were harming Northern Queensland economy by opposing Abbot Point expansion.

Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr

Further reading:

Australian MP says he ‘got it wrong’ on dumping coal waste on Great Barrier Reef

Mining company escapes Great Barrier Reef compensation payments and strict operating conditions

Australian environment minister admits climate change threat to Great Barrier Reef

Offsetting dredging in the Great Barrier Reef would cost $1bn

UNESCO concerned over Australia’s decision on dumping coal waste in Great Barrier Reef waters