Monday, November 10, 2014

Labor Will Protect the Great Barrier Reef from Dredge Spoil

Congratulations to Mark Butler for Labor's commitment to ban the dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. This commitment will be implemented if Labor is elected in 2016. The Great Barrier Reef has been subjected to a range of environmental pressures, and the world’s greatest coral reefs are not in as good as condition as they used to be. The situation is sufficiently serious that the World Heritage Committee is presently considering whether to place the reef on the "in danger" list, and is due to decide this matter in June next year.

The dumping of dredge spoil from big construction projects in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area potentially damages the reefs. The Federal Government approved a plan to dump about 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil, caused by the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port, in the reef's marine park. But strong community opposition to the plan has caused a rethink and hopefully that spoil will now not be dumped offshore.

But there are still very large proposals being considered for dumping dredge spoil at sea - 5 million cubic metres in Cairns as part of a shipping development project, 5.7 million cubic metres as part of the Townsville port expansion, 13 million cubic metres as part of the Dudgeon Point coal facility expansion and another 12 million cubic metres at the Port of Gladstone.

Given this troubling setting Federal Labor's announcement of a clear ban on dredge spoil dumping is very welcome.

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