Only three weeks after UNESCO issued an urgent warning on the threats to the Great Barrier Reef from industrial development, Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, is pushing ahead with the approval process for the controversial Hancock coal terminal at Abbot Point despite serious concerns over the environmental assessment.
‘Preliminary Documentation’ for the project was released late yesterday and the public now have only four weeks to comment on the environmental impacts of the proposal.
“It is absurd that this project doesn’t even need a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and it is being pushed forward before the Cumulative Impact Assessment for Abbot Point is even finished,” said Greenpeace campaigner John Hepburn.
“This massive coal terminal straddles the edge of an important wetland and near a turtle breeding ground in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. It needs the highest standard of assessment,” said Hepburn. “We’re concerned that this is yet another Hancock rush job."
“One the many disturbing aspects of the preliminary documentation is the fact that it still includes extensive references to the Multi Cargo Facility (MCF) - which was scrapped last month. It is very sloppy work and doesn't inspire confidence in the quality of the environmental assessment.”
“Tony Burke rightly insisted on a Cumulative Impact Assessment for development at Abbot Point, but now he is pushing forward with the approval process for one of the projects before the Cumulative Impact Assessment is even completed” Hepburn said. “Minister Burke either wants a careful cumulative impacts assessment or he doesn’t.”
The recent UNESCO report recommended that ‘… it is essential that no port, coastal or other development that could affect the property should be approved if it would pre-empt a positive outcome of the Strategic Assessment’  supporting Greenpeace’s call that port developments not be approved before an overall Strategic Assessment is completed and a management plan put in place.
“T3 should not even be considered until the Strategic Assessment and the Cumulative Impact Assessment for Abbot Point is finished.” Hepburn continued. “Otherwise what is the point of doing the studies if you are going to let the areas get destroyed in the meantime?”
The T3 coal terminal at Abbot Point is part of a vertically integrated plan to export coal from the controversial Gina Rinehart/GVK Alpha coal mine and rail project in the Galilee Basin.
For comment and more information:
John Hepburn, Senior Campaigner: 0407 231 172
Julie Macken, media officer: 0400 925 217
Images of Abbot Point and the Caley Valley wetland [user: photos password: green]
Consultants report into the significance of the Caley Valley wetland
Hancock Coal website with ‘Preliminary Documentation’ for the T3 proposal
 http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2012/whc12-36com-7BAdd-en.pdf [page 25.]