A Queensland government plan to dump millions of cubic metres of dredged seabed on wetlands as part of a project to expand a coal port has been released for public comment.
Members of the public have 10 days to make submissions on the proposal which involves reusing the dredge spoil on land at Abbot Point coal port near Bowen in the state’s north.
The onshore disposal project would replace an already approved plan to dump the three million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Public submissions will be considered by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who has the final say over whether the new plan goes ahead.
Australian Marine Conservation Society spokeswoman Felicity Wishart claims authorities are trying to fast-track the plan and says 10 days isn’t enough for people to consider all of the complex reports.
“The Great Barrier Reef could be ruined with reckless industrialisation if the Abbot Point proposal is allowed to continue without adequate time to consider the risks,” she said.
The dredged seafloor will be dumped on the nationally significant Caley Valley Wetlands which is a natural filter for the reef and home to fish nurseries and 40,000 shore birds, she says.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney says documents for the Abbot Point Port and Wetlands project have been publicly available since October 3.
“Consultation on additional information requested by the Commonwealth began today and closes on 18 December,” he said, adding that the timeline had been set by the federal government.
Mining firms GVK Hancock and Adani have said they want to begin the dredging project by June, while Mr Seeney has said he’s hopeful the onshore plan will be approved by the end of the year.
The Abbot Point expansion is a crucial step in the development of $28.4 billion of coal reserves in the Galilee Basin which will be shipped out of the port.