The Abbot Point consortium (North Queensland Bulk Ports, GVK Hancock and Adani Group) have reportedly announced that they will re-submit a proposal to Environment Minister Greg Hunt, for onshore dumping as an alternative to the approved offshore dumping at Abbott Point. The change is in response to community opposition to dredging and dumping near the Great Barrier Reef. Controversy and community concern over the approval to dump dredge spoil offshore and a court case launched by the North Queensland Conservation Council have contributed to the decision.
Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) welcome the backflip, but point out that the offshore dumping is still on the cards until the approval is rescinded. Dredging itself has environmental risks and with the proposed site for onshore dumping not announced as yet, there may well be unacceptable environmental impacts associated with the new proposal.
CAFNEC has called on Ports North and the State Government to rule out offshore dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and to abandon plans for the unnecessary new capital dredging proposed for Cairns Port.
Marine Biologist and CAFNEC Marine Programs Coordinator Josh Coates summarised by saying:
“There are 3 main points to consider here:
- The clear scientific consensus is that offshore dumping of dredge spoil is environmentally unacceptable.
- There is no genuine need to enlarge the Cairns Port shipping channel, as an alternative for large cruise ships is already in operation.
- The environmental risks, lack of suitable sites and massive taxpayer-funded cost of treating the acid sulphate contaminated dredge spoil on land, make mass onshore dumping in Cairns too risky and unviable.
Given these clear and known factors, the only sensible option is to abandon plans for unnecessary new dredging and instead focus on supporting Cairns and Far North businesses in ways that do not risk the environment, and the industries and people that rely on a healthy environment.”
“We are organising a Community Forum on the Cairns Port dredging proposal, to provide quality information, in the lead up to the release of the Environmental Impact Statement.
“This is a chance for the community to learn more about the proposal to dredge around 7 million tonnes of mud and acid sulphate soil, to expand the Cairns Port. This proposal is larger than the controversial Abbot Point dredging and places at risk the Great Barrier Reef environment and animals, including seagrass, dugongs, turtles and fish. The tourism and fisheries industries that rely heavily on health of the reef are also at risk.”
CAFNEC will be holding a Community Forum on Cairns Port Dredging to provide information on the proposal and environmental concerns:
When: 24th September 2014, 6:30 pm start
Where: Cairns Choral Society hall, 31-33 Greenslopes Street, North Cairns.
What: Presentations and panel discussion from tourism and local industry representatives, leading scientists and environmental experts.
Presentations, Q&A, light refreshments provided, free entry.
Media contact: Josh Coates, Marine Programs Coordinator, (07) 4032 1586, 0438 805 284,