State won't withdraw support for fourth LNG plant

THE Queensland Government has ruled out withdrawing approval for another LNG plant in Gladstone despite renewed UNESCO concern over environmental impacts.

World heritage body UNESCO has expressed concern about the environmental impacts of developments in Gladstone, including approval of a fourth LNG plant in the city, and dredging at Abbot Point near Bowen.

The ABC reports Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell said the government was keeping a close watch on Gladstone but would not reverse any existing approvals.

"Once approvals are given they're legally binding. It's not something that you can retrospectively undo and it's not something that we would do because that would create a lot of uncertainty in the economy," he said.

"What our job is is to make sure that our approvals meet the high environmental thresholds that we as Queenslanders certainly expect, that Australians expect, and our international cousins, particularly UNESCO, expect, and we will continue to do so."

UNESCO also has called on the federal government to reconsider its approval of dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

If not, the Great Barrier Reef could be listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger.

The organisation sent draft recommendations on the reef to the World Heritage Committee on Wednesday night.

Among the concerns cited were four new approvals made by the Abbott Government despite the strategic assessment of the reef not being completed, as well as a lack of progress on changes to the governance of the reef and environmental regulations.

While the committee welcomed some progress made in the strategic assessment to date, it has further urged the government to put in place new legislation to protect "greenfields" areas from coastal development, including port expansions.

Mr Powell said the state's ports strategy was being finalised and would include measures to protect the reef.

"I'm very confident that between the work we're doing as a state and the work we're doing with our federal counterparts we will not see the reef listed as 'in danger'," he said.

"We will continue to make decisions based on the UNESCO recommendations of a number of years ago around prioritising our ports.

"It does look at focusing our port expansions on Townsville, Abbot Point, Mackay's Hay Point and Gladstone, which is consistent with those UNESCO recommendations."



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