Greenpeace calls for immediate halt to new approvals during Great Barrier Reef strategic assessment

Press release - 19 February, 2012

Sunday February 19, Sydney: Greenpeace welcomes yesterday's announcement of a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area by Federal and State Governments, but warns that it will be an empty gesture without an immediate halt to new approvals of major infrastructure while the assessment is being done.

“It would make a mockery of the strategic assessment if the government green lights more large-scale industrial infrastructure in the Great Barrier Reef coastal zone before the evaluation period has concluded,” said Greenpeace Spokesperson John Hepburn.
“We are facing imminent approval of a massive expansion of coal ports all up the Queensland coast that would involve tens of millions of tonnes of dredging and thousands more dirty coal ships passing through the reef.”
“Many of these massive projects are likely to approved before the Strategic Assessment is completed – including the hugely destructive coal development at Abbot Point, near Bowen.”
“It flies in the face of common sense to announce the strategic assessment without putting a hold on approvals for such massive projects.”
UNESCO has already issued strong concerns about the management of the World heritage Area and the threat posed by major fossil fuel export facilities. The upcoming inspection tour in March by the UN body could result in a further rebuke of the Australian Government.
“2012 is a critical year for the Great Barrier Reef,” said Hepburn. “The approval of these massive new coal ports could tip the balance against safeguarding a thriving reef for future generations.  The government must ensure its chance of survival is not sabotaged while their assessment is taking place.”
For more information call John Hepburn on 0407 231 172 or Greenpeace Communications Manager James Lorenz on 0400 376 021