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Conservationists slam Curtis preservation move

An aerial image taken before LNG projects proceeded at Curtis Island. Photo: Australian Marine Conservation Society
An aerial image taken before LNG projects proceeded at Curtis Island. Photo: Australian Marine Conservation Society Contributed

GLADSTONE Conservation Council has slammed an "expansion" of conservation area on Curtis Island, saying it's nothing more than "smoke and mirrors".

Environment Minister Andrew Powell was on Curtis Island on Friday with the three LNG proponents to announce a landmark conservation initiative that will see two thirds of the island set aside for environmental conservation.

>> Locals back conservation plan for Curtis Island

The proponents and state government have bought back the grazing permits that allowed the Monte Christo cattle property to operate, purchased the property itself and provided $34.5million over 25 years for the management of the protected areas.

But the GCC argued what good was the promise of protection when the island, which was already supposed to be protected as part of the world heritage area and a good percentage already with national park status, had already been bulldozed for industry.

It said nothing made up for the hundreds of hectares of vegetation that was bulldozed for the LNG industry, and changes to help industry had weakened environmental laws.

The island had also been infested with invasive fire ants that had come from the United States, following the movement of equipment and materials by boat for the QCLNG project.

Gladstone Conservation Council president Jan Arens said an "offset" was supposed to replace the environment that had been destroyed.

"This is typical manipulation - the island was already listed in the world heritage area and yet it was allowed to be bulldozed for industry," he said.

"They've removed hundred of hectares of ecosystem that is significant. It irks me that once again Curtis Island is being manipulated."

Mr Arens questioned the ability of land title to give protection to the environment.

"What does the world heritage title give you as a listing? No protection. National Park, State Park - there's no protection.

"Where does the environment, in real terms, benefit from this?"

Mr Powell said the intent was always to offset as close to the environment being disturbed.

"First we look to avoid the impacts on environmental matters, then look to mitigate them and if we can't do either of those then we look for an offset," he said.

"It's certainly a priority that we look for that as close to where the industry or activity is occuring.

"This great outcome connects 25,000 hectares and the money will ensure it's being managed for future generations."

Topics:  andrew powell, curtis island, environment, gladstone, lng



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