Tony Burke delays world’s biggest coal port in World Heritage Area

Press release - 11 March, 2012

Sydney 11th March 2012. Greenpeace was relieved to see Environment Minister, Tony Burke, is beginning to listen to the broader Australian community in deciding to extend the deadline approval of the massive expansion of the coal port at Abbot Point until December 2012. However we are concerned this delay doesn't go nearly far enough to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

“We applaud the Minister for recognizing that it is not possible to approve this development without consideration of the environmental impacts of related projects. In light of this it is clear that any expansion at Abbot Point cannot be approved until the Government’s Strategic Assessment of the cumulative impacts of all industrial developments on the Reef have concluded.” said John Hepburn, Greenpeace Campaigner.
Minister Burke was expected to make a decision by the 30th of March on whether or not to approve the Multi Cargo Facility, the key to Abbot Point becoming world’s biggest coal port, right in the middle of the World Heritage Area.
However, with the impacts of the coal boom on the reef running hot in the national media and with UNESCO in town, Minister Burke has signed a document pushing the approval date back until December 2012.
“The approval of the Multi Cargo Facility at Abbot Point has been proposed without full consideration of what it will enable.” said Hepburn. “It is clear that outside the coal industry, very few Australians had any idea of how enormous the coal port at Abbot Point could become. It would be three times bigger than the biggest coal port anywhere in the world with 4000 coal ships cutting through the Reef from it each year.”
“The industry lead cumulative impact assessment of Abbot Point is fundamentally flawed. To believe that the damage caused by building additional coal terminals and wharfs at Abbot Point can be assessed in isolation of other developments in the World Heritage Area is essentially a perpetuation of the existing project-by-project approvals regime: a regime that has failed to protect the Reef,” said Hepburn.
“That’s why it is untenable for Minister Burke to continue to propose approving the world’s largest coal port prior to the completion of government’s Strategic Assessment, “concluded Hepburn.
For more information, contact:
Julie Macken – media officer:  0440 925 217
John Hepburn – Greenpeace Campaigner:  0407 231 173