Abbot Point Coal Terminal.
Abbot Point Coal Terminal. Peter Holt

Public pressure behind rethink on spoil project

MACKAY Conservation Group co-ordinator Ellen Roberts believes her organisation has a vital responsibility to the region's environment and its people.

The group currently has a case against Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt before the Federal Court.

Ms Roberts said the weight of public opinion had pressured Mr Hunt's concession that he was open to land-based dumping for the dredge spoil from the Abbot Point expansion as an alternative to dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

In a radio interview on Tuesday Mr Hunt said he was expecting a resubmission from the consortium overseeing the port expansion.

"I think it is clear that we are at the very early stages with these (land-based dumping) proposals," Ms Roberts said.

"I don't think he (Mr Hunt) has a strong sense of how it will be resolved."

No change to legal proceedings is expected, despite the recent developments.

The level of concern regarding the Great Barrier Reef was shared worldwide, Ms Roberts said. Proponents of the expansion were aware of the already damaging environmental effect.

"Under Australian law, organisations like ours have an input into what the environmental effects are going to be," she said.

"Government relies on community groups and members to alert them to issues. In that sense, we have an important role to scrutinise what the impact of various projects will be."

Whitsunday Regional Residents Association president Ross Newell yesterday argued that green groups were compromising north Queensland's economic future.

"Too much publicity and awareness has been given to the faction that wishes to see the demise of the Abbot Point project," he said.

The group has organised a rally for later this month to support the ongoing development of Abbot Point.

The Federal court case hearing begins in October.



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