Coastal protections wiped out by Queensland Government
The conservation group said the Newman Government’s changes were made on Monday, with no announcement and no prior consultation, and would leave many coastal areas previously identified as having high ecological significance vulnerable to damaging developments.
An Extraordinary Queensland Government Gazette1 released on Monday 8 October immediately suspended the State Planning Policy for Coastal Protection and replaced it with a new regulation2 which will be consulted on – but only after it is being used to make development decisions.
“Many areas right up and down the Queensland coast, from Far North Queensland to Moreton Bay, previously received protections, but have now been left vulnerable to inappropriate development, according to Government documents,” said WWF spokesperson Sean Hoobin.
The changes remove legislative protections in the Coastal Zone and allow developments to proceed within areas that have been identified as having High Ecological Significance, including many locations in areas like the Wet Tropics and the Fraser Coast.
“The Queensland Government had told UNESCO they were committed to a Strategic Assessment to ensure the Great Barrier Reef is protected from development impacts, which flies in the face of this week’s pre-emptive removal of key protections,” Mr Hoobin said.
In June, the Premier stated that the Government would ‘refine’ the Coastal Plan3 to protect areas of high ecological significance.
But it has been revealed this week that by ‘refine’ the government meant removing coastal protection provisions prior to reviewing them, prior to consulting on new provisions and prior to completing the Strategic Assessment of the Reef for UNESCO.
“These changes are completely inappropriate and weaken the Government’s ability to protect the Great Barrier Reef from coastal development.”
The World Heritage Committee is in the process of considering whether to list the Great Barrier Reef as ‘In Danger’. This decision by the Queensland Government moves us one step closer to this happening.
“The Government needs to urgently explain the type and scale of development that will now be allowed to proceed on flood exposed and high conservation value land, and how this meets their promises to better protect the Reef.
“The Government must ensure these new provisions do not harm the Reef if we are to avoid an “In Danger” listing from UNESCO.”
Daniel Rockett, Senior Media Officer, WWF-Australia, 0432 206 592
Sean Hoobin, Policy Manager – Freshwater, WWF-Australia, 0424 142 840
1. Queensland Government Gazette, Notification of making draft coastal protection state planning regulatory provision, 8 October 2012. Available online at http://www.bookshop.qld.gov.au/documents/08.10.12Extra32.pdf
2. Queensland Government, “Protecting the coastal environment”, October 2012. Available online at: http://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/resources/laws/state-planning-regulatory-provision/draft-coastal-protection-sprp.pdf
3. Premier Campbell Newman, “Premier promises protection for reef”, media statement, 5 June 2012. Available online at: http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/Id/79449