WWF-Australia today said the Queensland Government’s action to formally withdraw the proposal to dump dredge spoil on sensitive wetlands at Abbot Point, was a positive move.
“This shows the Government is listening to people who care about the Reef and the important coastal wetlands, that are precious habitats and act as filters to protect the Reef,” said WWF-Australia Reef campaigner Louise Matthiesson.
“The new Queensland Government is to be commended for following through on its election promise to rule out dumping on the wetlands and to find an alternative location for the sludge.
“The approved plan to dump 3 million tonnes of dredge spoil into the World Heritage Area, and the proposal to dump on the sensitive Caley Valley Wetlands, have now both been taken off the table as a result of today’s announcement.”
The new proposal, put forward by the Queensland Government and proponents GVK and Adani, is to deposit the spoil on the site of BHP’s now-abandoned Terminal 2 project.
“The T2 site is between the Reef World Heritage Area and the Caley Valley wetlands, so the utmost care must be taken before a final decision is made, and we await the outcome of the full environmental impact assessment by the Federal Government,” said Ms Matthiesson.
“WWF has repeatedly called for a longer jetty at Abbot Point to avoid the majority of dredging.
“The dredging operation itself will have serious impacts, like destroying seagrass beds, regardless of where the spoil is dumped.
“Given the downturn in the coal industry, it’s time to genuinely review whether the port expansion is really necessary at all,” she said.
“Better utilization of existing ports could deliver the same economic benefits, without unnecessarily damaging the Reef. If existing infrastructure can meet this demand, we should be using it more efficiently.”
Ms Matthiesson said today’s announcement is a positive first step in implementing the Queensland Government’s ‘Saving the Reef’ election policy, and WWF looks forward to further action on other promises such as a ban on the dumping of dredge spoil in the whole World Heritage Area.
“The world’s best Reef deserves the world’s best management,” she said.
WWF-Australia Media Contact:
Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571
Note to editors:
An internal Federal Government email, released to WWF-Australia under Freedom Of Information (FOI), contained expert opinion that dumping dredge spoil on the Caley Valley wetlands would likely lead to the decline of the endangered Australian Painted Snipe bird.