Resources sector says dredging reef legislation needs work

THE resources sector and conservationists have both condemned environmental legislation, but for different reasons.

The Mackay Conservation Council said the Queensland Government's ports bill introduced to parliament on Wednesday lacked a key ban on coal ship barging.

The legislation is part of the government's plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef by banning sea-based disposal of dredged material in the world heritage area, and restrict port-related capital dredging.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said restricting the dredging also would boost ongoing development at Gladstone, Abbot Point, Hay Point and Townsville ports.

She said it would protect the Fitzroy Delta, Keppel Bay, North Curtis Island and Port Alma. The conservation council and the Environmental Defenders Office have called on the government to stop transhipping, which involves transferring coal between ships on open waters.

The Queensland Resources Council warned the state's economy could suffer.

QRC said over time the ban on dumping dredged material at sea would mean some future necessary port developments would not proceed, or would be scaled back.

However, the Environmental Defenders Office and World Wildlife Fund praised the legislation.

"Eighty per cent of recent dumping has occurred outside the marine park but in the world heritage area," WWF-Australia chief Dermot O'Gorman said.

"This bill will close that loophole, putting an end to most dredge spoil sea-dumping for new projects."



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