Environmental group files action against Great Barrier Reef dredging plans


An environmental protection group is planning to launch a lawsuit against planned dredging works along the Australian east coast.

Proposed dredging at the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corp operated Port of Abbot Point would involve the shifting of nearly three million cubic metres of spoil to a dumping site near the Great Barrier Reef.

The Mackay Conservation group is planning to file an AUS$150,000 complaint against the Australian government on the grounds that by allowing the dredging works to happen, they will have failed their legal obligations to protecting the world heritage site.

The group received financial backing from activist group GetUp!

Environmental minister, Greg Hunt, approved the plans in December, much to the dismay of several environmental parties.

The World Heritage Committee made certain to ensure that several measures were put in place to protect the reef, yet this has not stopped concerns from being issued.

Earlier this year, hundreds of scientists signed an open letter to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, urging that they block any attempts to dump spoil in reef waters.

This is the second legal challenge to be filed against the proposed digging, with Queensland Conservation Group launching an appeal earlier in the year against the Marine Park Authority.

Mackay Conservation Group is planning to challenge the decision through a provision in Australian national environment laws whereby any decision made can be put under a judicial review by the Federal Court.

This is one of the first times that national environmental laws used in the protection of world heritage sites have been tested and put under scrutiny in a court of law.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, a spokesman for Mr. Hunt has said that the project could only be approved if it was in line with national environmental laws and had “some of the toughest conditions and safeguards in Australian history.”

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