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Fears for environment as dredging near reef is approved

A Curtis Island resident of about 26 years, Cheryl Watson loves where she lives.
A Curtis Island resident of about 26 years, Cheryl Watson loves where she lives. Brenda Strong

CURTIS Island resident Cheryl Watson believes the approval of dredging operations at Abbot Point near Mackay will serve as the impetus for similar dredging mistakes as those made with the Fisherman's Landing bund wall in Gladstone.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on Friday approved the dumping of three million cubic metres of dredged spoil in the marine park, near Abbot Point north of Mackay.

The decision has angered environmentalists and has been welcomed by the coal industry, with the dredging to make way for an expansion of coal export facilities at the port.

"I don't think anyone who genuinely values the reef would compromise it like that," Ms Watson said.

"I really am scared for the future."

WWF Australia spokesman Richard Leck saying it was a "say day for the reef and anyone who cares about its future".

"The World Heritage Committee will take a dim view of this decision which is in direct contravention of one of its recommendations," he said.

Meanwhile, the veracity of an inquiry into the Gladstone Harbour bund wall is being questioned after Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced the terms of reference on Thursday.

Engineers Australia on Friday questioned the lack of engineering experience on the inquiry board appointed by Mr Hunt.

Queensland division president Blake Harvey said the inquiry had a clear focus on technical design and construction.

"Any inquiry into these engineering issues requires specialised engineering expertise to ensure that technical matters are clearly understood and evaluated," Mr Harvey said. 

And Gladstone fisherman would like the scope of the inquiry widened.

Gladstone Fish Market co-owner Simon Whittingham told the ABC the terms of reference should be broader, and the panel was disappointing.

"Two of the three people have already sat on a panel," he said. "To my knowledge (they) have been aware of the information that's now in the public arena of the incompetent construction of the bund wall and the lack of transparency.

"There was a whole lot going wrong in Gladstone. It just would've been nice to have three fresh faces on the panel."

Topics:  abbot point, bund wall, dredging, environment, gladstone harbour, greg hunt



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