Australian Environment Minister Mark Butler has decided to delay making a decision on an application to dump 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, 50kms from the Whitsunday Islands.
The Minister’s decision has come just hours after his Government released a new report into the impacts of dredging in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, that shows the impact of dredging and dumping is much worse than industry and government thought.
“The Fight for the Reef Campaign welcomes the fact that the project, which would see millions of cubic metres of seafloor torn up and dumped in the waters of the Reef, has not been approved,” WWF-Australia spokesperson Richard Leck said.
“Today’s announcement of a delay shows that the Minister is taking this issue seriously, and we are pleased he is taking a thorough and detailed approach to a decision that is critical for the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
“However, given the deeply concerning new report released today that shows the harmful impacts of dredging have been considerably underestimated, we believe the Government will now have little choice but to eventually reject this application for Abbot Point and rule out Reef dumping altogether.”
AMCS spokesperson Felicity Wishart said dredging and dumping in the Reef World Heritage Area should be a thing of the past.
“These practices are outdated, and industry needs to change its ways if we are to save the Reef,” Ms Wishart said.
“The Minister has faced considerable pressure from industry to approve this dredging, and he has rightly resisted this in favour of making a fully considered decision.
“It is vital that the resources sector brings its practices into the 21st century – just as other industries have done already.
“Dumping millions of tonnes of sediment into the World Heritage Area is not acceptable. Australians want to see the Reef protected.”
Special thanks to Elliot Baron.