Abbot Point dredging to avoid full environmental scrutiny

Dredging at Abbot Point will avoid another round of environmental scrutiny
Dredging at Abbot Point will avoid another round of environmental scrutiny Lee Constable

A FINAL decision on the expansion, dredging and on-shore dumping of dredge spoil at Abbot Point will not be subject to a full environmental impact statement.

The proposal was filed in two separate applications, by the State Government, with the Commonwealth earlier this month.

A decision on how to proceed was made on Tuesday.

But that decision has raised concerns about the rigour of the assessment process, as it has laid the groundwork for a final decision based only on "preliminary documentation".

The decision, made by a Canberra delegate of Environment Minister Greg Hunt, means the two separate but related projects will not undergo the standard EIS process.

The proponent, State Government-owned Economic Development Queensland, asked the government to rely on previous impact assessment documents.

Those documents were based on the earlier proposals for offshore dumping, now superseded, and were also questioned internally by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority at the time.

On Wednesday environmental groups were up in arms about the decision not to go ahead with the EIS.

Australian Marine Conservation Society reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said the project would not fully be "tested" and there was a "high risk of missing things" if an EIS was not completed.

She said there were potential impacts on the Caley Valley wetlands, water birds and marine life from the on-shore dumping proposal, despite claims to the contrary by the State Government.

However, while the proponent's original statement also called on the Federal Government to ignore potential impacts on the reef's World Heritage area, the Environment Department has demanded such impacts be assessed.

The department has also demanded potential impacts on the marine park, national heritage places-listed threatened species and migratory species also be considered in the "preliminary documentation".

Questions put to the department about the decision were unanswered at time of filing.


Topics:  abbot point dredging environment federal government politics

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