Abbot Point expansion given green light

Abbot Point coal port.
Saturday, June 17, 2017

Environmental approval for the expansion of Adani’s coal port at Abbot Point was ruled lawful in the Queensland Supreme Court on June 15.

Local group Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping (WRAD) had challenged the legality of the Queensland government’s decision to approve the controversial Abbot Point coal terminal expansion in Queensland’s Supreme Court on October 7.

The case questioned whether the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection had properly assessed the project, as required by law, before it approved the controversial billion dollar project that would sit in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. WRAD was represented by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).

The terminal would be constructed between a turtle nesting beach and the nationally recognised Caley Valley wetlands. It would require the dredging of more than 1 million cubic metres of sea floor and see millions of tonnes of coal transported through the Great Barrier Reef.

WRAD argued that any expansion of the coal port will put the Great Barrier Reef in peril as it battles unprecedented consecutive coral bleaching events.   

Spokesperson for WRAD Sandra Williams said: “This court decision is a blow for our Reef but WRAD and the local Whitsunday community will not give up. We will keep up the fight to protect this natural wonder and the tourism jobs it supports, especially after shocking new surveys show that the Great Barrier Reef is under threat like never before from coral bleaching.

“The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has found significant coral decline and habitat loss on the Reef over the past two years, as back-to-back bleaching events have hit the corals hard. An estimated 70% of shallow water corals have died on the Reef north of Port Douglas. If Adani opens up the Galilee Basin to coalmining, coral bleaching events will become more intense and devastating.  

“We have a critical window in which to act to protect our coral reefs. Instead the Queensland and Federal Governments are doing all they can to support Adani with free water, royalties reductions and pushing for a $1 billion taxpayer-funded loan to help get their dangerous project off the ground. Politicians should align themselves with the 70,000 workers who depend on the health of the Reef for their livelihoods and look to a future without polluting mining.

“The Labor Government, elected on a strong ‘Save the Reef’ platform, has failed miserably to do so. The best thing the Premier can do for the Reef now is to oppose the $1 billion loan that Adani is depending on to get its coalmine off the ground.  

“The death of the Reef is heartbreaking, but I know there is not yet reason to give up hope. We know the community shares our vision of a healthy and thriving Reef that supports local tourism jobs and industries.”

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said it was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision, but vowed to fight on to stop Adani’s Reef-wrecking project.

AMCS Fight For Our Reef Campaign Director Imogen Zethoven said: “The Supreme Court decision is a setback, but Whitsunday residents and people from all walks of life will continue to fight to protect our World Heritage listed Reef from this extremely damaging project.

“There is still time to save the Reef from global warming but governments must act now to avoid any new coalmines, including Adani’s Carmichael mine.

“Adani has already admitted it breached its licence to pollute at Abbot Point. During Cyclone Debbie it released 800% more than its licence allowed. Adani has already demonstrated that it can’t be trusted to operate within Australian law.

“Adani has no social licence for the Carmichael coal mine, its taxpayer subsidised rail link project or Abbot Point. It’s time to move on to the future which is renewable energy.”

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