FEDERAL Environment Minister Greg Hunt is set to visit Gladstone to talk to proponents and opponents of the Arrow LNG plant after pushing back a decision on whether to approve the plant to December 13.
The minister was due to make a decision on Wednesday on whether or not the project met federal guidelines on the environment, a key hurdle in getting the project up, but elected to give himself more time.
Mr Hunt's office denied the delay was a deferral, but instead part of a considered process.
"The previous Labor government deferred decisions," a spokesperson said.
"By contrast we agreed on a three-stage methodical process with Queensland after the election."
This includes the release of the Queensland Ports Strategy, the release of the Draft Barrier Reef Strategic Assessments, and the consideration of environmental regulation matters in light of the two overviews.
As part of the process the minister will visit Gladstone to talk to all concerned parties, although the minister's office was unable to put an exact date on when he would appear.
However, the office said it expected Mr Hunt to make a decision on the fate of the project "well in advance" of the timeline given.
Environmental groups are sure to want an audience with Mr Hunt when he does come to town, and they took the opportunity afforded by the delay to press the minister to deny approval altogether.
"The reef didn't need another deferral from the government today - this threat of even further industrialisation of the largest island within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area needed to be ruled out once and for all," Greens Senator Larissa Waters said.
"No amount of extra information will change the fact that Arrow's plans involve one million tonnes of dredging, will impact the dugong feeding areas and precious turtle nesting sites on the southern tip of World Heritage Curtis Island, and will send more mega-ships through the reef like it's a highway."
The Arrow LNG plant would be the fourth on Curtis Island, and have a capacity of 18 million tonnes of LNG a year, and include additional dredging works.
Arrow LNG declined to comment on the delay.
Do you think the Arrow LNG plant should be approved?
This poll ended on 23 November 2013.
Yes. There's so much industry here, one more plant won't make much difference - 40%
No. Too much environmental damage has been done here already - 36%
No. The gas boom won't be all that has been promised - 16%
Yes. The Arrow plant is different to the other three - 7%
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.