As early as this coming Tuesday, 9 July, new Minister for the Environment Mark Butler may be announcing his decision on whether or not to approve the proposed dredging at Abbot Point, about 30 km north of Bowen. The dredging is proposed as part of plans to make Abbot Point the biggest coal port in the world.
The proponents of the development, North Queensland Bulk Ports, propose dredging three million cubic metres of seabed and dumping it into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Although they are now claiming that this is environmentally the best option for spoil disposal, their Pubic Environment Report makes it clear that sea-dumping was chosen because it is cheap and easy.
One of the most effective ways of getting a message through to parliamentarians is to give them a call - so will you please do this? The contact phone number for Minister Butler is 02 62777920. It is unlikely that you will actually get to speak with him, but please leave a message with his office.
Reasons against sea-dumping include damage to the GBRWHA and the reef; damage to seagrass meadows and the megafauna depending on them; damage to fishing and tourism industries and recreational fishing; and the likelihood that it would increase the concern of UNESCO - which is threatening to put the GBRWHA on the World Heritage in Danger list because of the extent of coastal development, especially that associated with ports. Given that the Federal government is using hundreds of millions of our taxes to limit sediment runoff into the reef lagoon, it makes no sense to permit dumping of massive quantities of sediment by developers.
Bear in mind that approval of this sea-dumping at Abbot Point would be likely to create an argument for the dumping of 5.6 million cubic metres of dredge spoil into the GBRWHA midway between Cape Cleveland and Magnetic Island - proposed by the Port of Townsville if its expansion goes ahead.