Great Barrier Reef dumping plan could be shelved

2014-09-03 12:39
(Catlin Seaview Survey, AFP)

(Catlin Seaview Survey, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - An India-backed mining consortium could shelve controversial plans to dump dredging waste in the Great Barrier Reef, with alternative sites on land being considered amid growing environmental concerns, Australia said on Tuesday.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said there was an "emerging option" that could see the consortium - India's Adani Group and Australia's North Queensland Bulk Ports and GVK Hancock - submit a proposal suggesting onshore dumping locations.

"There is an emerging option which I've said we'd welcome and consider on its merits," Hunt told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"I can't put a time frame. It may be a month, it may be less, it may not occur. But we have encouraged and invited (another option)."

Onshore disposal 'better option'

The minister's comments followed a report in The Australian Financial Review that the government-approved marine dumping plan would be abandoned to neutralise controversy over the possible damage it could cause to the World Heritage site.

Conservationists have said the dumping of three million cubic metres of material dredged from the seabed as part of a major coal port expansion at Abbot Point - on the Great Barrier Reef coast in Queensland - could hasten the natural wonder's demise.

The dredging, which was approved in January, will allow freighters to dock at Abbot Point, increasing the coal port's capacity by 70% to make it one of the world's largest.

The Greens party, which has criticised the reef dumping proposal, said its approval should be revoked.

"Onshore disposal would be a far better option environmentally and for the tourism and fishing industries, however the problems of increased shipping and export of coal to exacerbate climate change remain," Greens' environment spokesperson Larissa Waters said.

Dredging dangerous to reef

Activist group Greenpeace "cautiously welcomed" the "good news", but warned there were still concerns.

"If the reports are true, the cheapest, most destructive option for expanding Abbot Point may have been taken off the table - but the threat from coal industry expansion plans is still urgent," spokesperson Adam Walters said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation's climate change campaigner Abigail Jabines said the dredging itself was a danger to the reef.

"Even if the spoil is not dumped at sea, the dredging itself has environmental impacts, with dredge plumes damaging sea grass meadows, which are an important habitat for turtles and dugongs," she said.

The number of dugongs - a long-living but slow-breeding mammal - are declining in reef water although species such as humpback whales and loggerhead turtles are growing, a Great Barrier Marine Park Authority report said last month.

The same report warned the reef was "under pressure" from climate change, poor water quality from land-based run-off and the impacts from coastal development with the outlook for the natural wonder rated "poor".

UNESCO in June deferred listing the reef as in danger and gave Australia until 1 February, 2015 to submit a report on what it was doing to protect the bio-diverse site.

Read more on:    unesco  |  austrailia

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Hip Cape Town bars to discover this summer
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.