Federal Government approves Abbot Point
THE Palaszczuk Government welcomes the Commonwealth Government's decision to approve the final environmental impact statement for the Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project.
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the decision meant that if one or more of the proposed Galilee Basin coal mine projects go ahead, the port could be developed to allow increased exports.
"The approval is another milestone towards realising the jobs and economic benefits that developing the Galilee Basin could bring to Queensland, while continuing to protect the Great Barrier Reef," he said.
"As I have said previously, there will be no dredging at the port until Adani demonstrates financial closure."
The EIS followed the Palaszczuk Government's move earlier this year to meets its election commitments to protect the nationally-significant Caley Valley wetlands and ban sea dumping of capital dredged material.
Dredge spoil is to be placed on land on the site known as T2, adjacent to the existing coal terminal, not on the Caley Valley wetlands or within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Dr Lynham said the EIS approved today found that there would be no significant residual impacts on matters of national environmental significance, including the Great Barrier Reef.
The EIS was open for public consultation for four weeks and more than 55 000 submissions were received.
This is the last Commonwealth approval under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 for the proposed Carmichael coal mine and rail project in the Galilee Basin.
Federal Member for Dawson, George Christensen, said the good news would make Christmas a little more enjoyable for a region that has had a tough year.
"This project has now cleared all Federal Government hurdles for both the mine itself and the port expansion," he said.
"What the region really needed was to see this light at the end of the tunnel and this news will inject confidence back into the economy."
Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, issued the Federal Government approval for the Abbot Point expansion today with a range of strict conditions, including how dredging could take place, containment measures for dredged material, and a comprehensive dredge management plan.
Good news for CQ & NQ: Coal for Christmas (and coal jobs!) as Federal Liberal National Govt approves Abbot Point. pic.twitter.com/461LQ46R55— George Christensen (@GChristensenMP) December 21, 2015
Mr Christensen said the approval also came with conditions regarding other environmental management and an offset management strategy.
"The project's proponents must submit an Offset Management Strategy to the minister prior to undertaking dredging activities," he said.
"This is to ensure that there is a net improvement in water quality in the wider region.
"Proponents need to show how they will achieve a reduction in sediment entering the marine environment from the Burdekin River and/or Don River catchments equal to 150% of the fine sediment returned to the marine environment as a result of dredging.
"This is a win for jobs, a win for the economy, and a win for the environment and water quality."
Mr Christensen acknowledged that extreme green groups would continue a campaign of frivolous law suits in a bid to stop the project but said they were grasping at straws.
"The anti-mining groups are starting to sound a little desperate because their claims get more and more ridiculous," he said.
"Today they are out there telling people that coal ships will 'plough through the reef' because they have run out of plausible arguments.
"The reality is that there are dedicated shipping channels that these coal ships use and they often utilise expert Australian reef pilots to assist them.
"The extreme greens are claiming emissions from burning Carmichael mine coal will cause global warming but they refuse to acknowledge that the alternative would be more emissions produced by burning lower quality coal from Indonesia.
"The community understands the importance of jobs and the economy and are starting to see the anti-coal lobby for what it really is - anti-capitalism and anti-jobs."
Whitsunday Regional Council has welcomed the Federal Government's announcement that the Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project has been approved by the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment.
Mayor Jennifer Whitney said the continued development of the Abbot Point was critical to the future growth and prosperity of the Whitsunday region.
"Abbot Point is a fantastic asset for our region, and I'm very pleased that Minister Hunt has recognised the project's potential in terms of economic development, job creation and growth in the Whitsunday Region," Mayor Whitney said.
"It is also pleasing to see that the Federal Government has achieved a balance between economic development and environmental conservation and attached various conditions to the project approval," she said.
Mayor Whitney said the council has formally supported the Abbot Point development since April 2013, when Councillors unanimously supported her motion to support the development.
"We have worked tremendously hard since 2013 to demonstrate our support for this project and advocate for its development to government, industry and the broader community," she said.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the latest approval from the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt for development at Abbot Point in North Queensland is another important step in the creation of thousands of jobs from the port expansion near Bowen and the future development of coal and rail projects in the Galilee Basin.
This environmental approval with strict conditions, which follows on an extensive public consultation process, paves the way for the construction of a second terminal at Abbot Point for exports to a coal-hungry India. The conditions also align with the Reef2050 plan that ensures protection of the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
Abbot Point is the designated port option for the Galilee Basin projects, and the new coal terminal will service Adani's Carmichael mine, which is around 400km from the coast, he said.
The port expansion, from 50mt to 120 mt per year, will create hundreds of jobs during construction, as part of the estimated 5000 construction jobs for the Adani mine, rail and port projects as well as thousands of operational jobs thereafter.
Mr Roche said the port expansion has to be good news for regional communities doing it tough like Bowen, Mackay and Townsville.
It should be remembered that Queensland taxpayers will not pay for costs associated with approvals or the necessary expansion work at Abbot Point, which will be met by coal mine proponents.
We have little doubt that vexatious green activists will do everything they can to again disrupt and delay the Abbot Point project. They have launched legal appeals against this port approval three times already and I'm sure they will use the courts if they can to delay it yet again.
The expansion of the Port of Abbot Point is vital if Australia is to become the world's leading coal exporter by 2020.
Of course increased exports means higher coal royalties and tax payments which will continue to pay for important services such as police, teachers, doctors and nurses and infrastructure such as roads and hospitals.
Meanwhile Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has condemned the decision by the Federal Government who has once again approved dredging at the Abbot Point coal port.
Imogen Zethoven, the Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director for AMCS said the timing of the decision was cynical, and reflected the extent to which the government was trying to sneak the decision through while Australians were busy with their upcoming holidays.
"Recent polling has shown that the port expansion has been rejected by 80 per cent of Australians because it will damage the Great Barrier Reef.
"Thousands of tonnes of seafloor will be torn up and dumped next to the internationally significant Caley Valley wetlands.
"Sea grasses which feed dugongs and turtles will be torn up for the coal industry.
"Hundreds more coal ships will plough through the Reef every year.
"This project will open up one of the world's biggest coal mines, the Carmichael project, which will be a huge contributor to global warming.
"The mining and burning of of coal is one of the leading causes of global warming. It causes the waters of the Reef to warm and become more acidic. Waters that warm too much for too long will lead to coral bleaching.
"In Paris our Government promised the world to stay well below Australia two degrees of global warming and to aim for 1.5 degrees. This decision is at odds with that commitment.
"The federal government's decision to re-approve this dredging project shows the mining industry is still getting special treatment and fast-tracked approvals, even when the project threatens our Great Barrier Reef."
Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping (WRAD) have expressed outrage and disappointment at Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt's decision to reapprove the expansion at Abbot Point.
Sandra Williams, spokesperson for WRAD said the decision was shameful and short sighted.
"To maintain a safe climate for the Reef we must ensure coal remains in the ground".
"This project will open up one of the world's biggest coal mines, the Carmichael project, which will be a huge contributor to global warming".
"The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority states that climate change is the greatest threat facing our Reef".
"We know the mining and burning of coal is a major contributor to global warming, which warms the Reef's waters and makes it more acidic".
"Additionally, one million cubic meters of ocean seafloor will be dug up, destroying sea grass meadows that feed our endangered turtle and dugong populations".