Five mega ports will be allowed along the Queensland coast, Australia, mainly in areas near the Great Barrier Reef.
Abbot Point, one of the world’s biggest coal terminals, has been declared a port development priority area.
The declaration comes only six months after green groups lost a battle to stop 3m cubic metres of dredge spoil from being dumped in the reef marine park boundaries.
The North Queensland Conservation Council is taking action at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, with a preliminary hearing set down for August.
As well as at Abbot Point, expansions will be allowed at other ports adjacent to the reef, including Gladstone, Hay Point, Mackay and Townsville.
Brisbane has also been earmarked for major growth.
Queensland’s deputy premier, Jeff Seeney, said dredging outside these priority port areas would be banned under the new strategy.
“Within and adjoining the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area, the Queensland government will prohibit dredging for the development of new, or the expansion of existing port facilities outside these port precincts, for the next decade,” he said, adding the approach was consistent with Unesco world heritage committee recommendations.
No significant protection from dredging
But Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters said the new “faux restriction” on dredging was useless.
“It won’t apply to any of the damaging dredging already applied for which is the very dredging that UNESCO was concerned about,” she said, adding dredging would continue at 20 ports.
“This is atrocious news for the Great Barrier Reef.”
The Australian Marine Conservation Society said coastline along the reef would be industrialised.
“The new policy won’t stop a single port development or dredging proposal planned along the Queensland coast,” campaigner Felicity Wishart said.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is a site of remarkable variety and beauty on the north-east coast of Australia. It contains the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc. It also holds great scientific interest as the habitat of species such as the dugong (‘sea cow’) and the large green turtle, which are threatened with extinction. Read more at UNESCO.
Story source: The Guardian