Conservation council horrified by new port strategy

THE Capricorn Conservation Council has expressed its horror at the Queensland Government's Great Barrier Reef Port Strategy, released today.

Deputy Premier and State Development Minister Jeff Seeney has tabled the draft strategy and it is now available for public consultation.

It proposes that any significant port development in or adjoining the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area be restricted to within existing port limits for the next 10 years, meaning Queensland will have fewer but bigger ports.

This means there would only be expansion at Abbot Point, Hay Point and the Gladstone Precinct, including Balaclava Island, Port Alma and Sea Hill.

"We are horrified," conservation council coordinator Michael McCabe said.

"Keppel Bay does not have a major existing port. Port Alma is a very minor old port for specialised cargo only.

"Balaclava Island and Sea Hill Curtis Island have no development whatsoever.

"More to the point, Balaclava Island and Port Alma are not "in the Port of Gladstone" at all. Minister Seeney should have a good look at a map of Queensland."

Mr McCabe said residents on the Capricorn Coast had made it plain that they opposed any port development in Keppel Bay.

"These developments would threaten the unique environmental values of the Fitzroy Delta, including habitat for fish breeding, and the extremely rare Australian Snubfin Dolphin and the endangered Yellow Chat," he said.

"The Newman government is using trickery to get its hands on Keppel Bay.

"Their port strategy shows contempt for UNESCO World Heritage Area and GBR Strategic Assessment advice that no new port developments should be allowed in the Great Barrier Reef area, apart from at existing major established ports."

Mr Seeney said on Wednesday the strategy would guide the government's approach to future port development and planning for the Great Barrier Reef coast for the next decade.

"Through this strategy, the government will balance environmental protection with the need to facilitate economic prosperity," he told Parliament.

"Put simply our ports must expand if we are to prosper."

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