WWF Australia has warmly welcomed the Queensland Government’s announcement today that it won’t support plans for a major dredging project in Cairns.
The Cairns cruise ship terminal project was first proposed in 2012, and would have involved dredging 4.4 million cubic metres of seabed within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The dredge waste would have been dumped at sea or on the sensitive East Trinity peninsula.
“This is a great decision for the Great Barrier Reef and the Cairns economy, since it will prevent millions of tonnes of dredge spoil from being dumped in the sensitive marine environment of the Great Barrier Reef,” said WWF-Australia Great Barrier Reef Campaigner Louise Matthiesson.
“By refusing to subsidise this unnecessary cruise ship terminal, the state government is making the right decision for the environment and the economy.
“The Environmental Impact Statement for the project, also released today, clearly shows that the project would have had massive environmental impacts, for very little economic benefit, and come at great cost to the taxpayer.
“The Cairns tourism industry can benefit from cruise ship visits without the need for this damaging dredging project.
“The Queensland Government should be congratulated for listening to and responding to the best available science and economics on this issue.
“The Premier committed to a strong package of policies to help save the Reef prior to the election. Today’s announcement shows that the new Government is acting to fulfill those promises.
"Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has also played an important role in securing this outcome, by developing new regulations banning sea-dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
“Minister Hunt has spoken out against the Cairns port plan to dump spoil at sea and taken steps to prevent the spoil being placed in the Marine Park.
"On the basis of the new evidence in the EIS, we trust he will also rule out onshore disposal at East Trinity and refuse to grant a federal environmental approval for the project.
“The next step is for the Queensland and Federal governments to introduce new laws that ban the dumping of dredge spoil across the entire World Heritage Area, before the World Heritage Committee meets in Germany this June,” Ms Matthiesson said.
UNESCO is due to release a draft decision next month on whether the Great Barrier Reef should be declared ‘World Heritage in danger’.
A final decision will be made by the Word Heritage Committee at its annual meeting from 28 June to 8 July 2015.
WWF-Australia Media Contact:
Daniel Rockett, National Media Manager