Turtles stop desal plant
THE community couldn’t stop the desalination plant going ahead at Agnes Water, but the turtles have – albeit temporarily.
Work has stopped on the controversial desalination plant on Springs Road as the official turtle breeding season begins on Friday and runs to February next year.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) permits and approvals for the construction of the reverse-osmosis desalination plant only allow for work on the beach outside the turtle nesting season.
Endangered loggerhead turtles nest on The Discovery Coast beaches each year and builders of the desalination plant, United Utilities Australia (UUA), had to take this into account when submitting applications to GBRMPA.
UUA are contracted to build the plant as part of the integrated water project commissioned by the Gladstone Regional Council.
The State Government is funding most (about $27 million) of the $40 million plus project which was expected to be completed before the new turtle breeding season commenced.
Protest group Community Over Desalination (COD) claimed the plant was not needed and would devalue the tourist destination’s pristine environment and reputation.
COD lobbied local, state and federal politicians long and hard to stop the construction of the desalination plant – but to no avail.
Preliminary preparations started in January, with works on the beach starting after the last turtle nesting season.
State Member for Burnett and former LNP MP now Independent Rob Messenger, a strong advocate for stopping the plant, promised it would be abandoned if the LNP got up at the last state election.
The environmental mitigation measures which govern the project, as stipulated by GBRMPA, prevent drilling work being conducted during the nesting season from October 1 to February 28, 2011.
Gladstone Regional Council’s infrastructure services director, Ross Paroz, said no adverse impacts were expected as a result of leaving the HDD works where they are.