Narrow escape for Reef as Government fast-tracks another new coal terminal

Press release - 21 May, 2012
Sydney. Sunday 20th May 2012: As a stricken cargo ship drifts over the Greet Barrier Reef, Greenpeace is renewing its call on Environment Minister Tony Burke for a moratorium on approvals of new coal ports in the World Heritage area until a genuine comprehensive Strategic Assessment is completed.

“We risk turning the reef into a coal superhighway,” said Greenpeace campaigner, John Hepburn. “This latest incident is yet another wake up call that highlights the threat to the reef from the coal rush and the massive projected increase in shipping.”

With UNESCO due to report this month on the threats of industrial development to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, the eyes of the world are watching how this precious icon is being managed.

If all proposed coal terminals were built there would be a staggering 900 million tonnes of coal export capacity in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. This would result in a six fold increase in coal shipping traffic through the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area – more than one ship slicing through the reef every hour of every day, 365 days a year.

Concerns are growing that the current Strategic Assessment will do little to protect the reef from the massive increase in coal port developments and shipping.

Since the Assessment was announced, yet another new coal terminal has been allowed to enter the planning process. Last week, the proposed Yarwun coal terminal in Gladstone moved another step forward in the planning process. This terminal would increase shipping traffic through the reef by up to 500 ships per year.

“UNESCO has grave concerns about the threats posed to the Great Barrier Reef by industrial development,” said Hepburn. “By agreeing to undertake a comprehensive strategic assessment the Australian Government appeared to at least be taking a small step to understand the damage being caused. Unless Minister Burke implements an effective moratorium on approval of new coal ports, it will be clear to all that the Government’s assessment is little more than greenwash. Australia’s greatest natural icon deserves far better.”

For media inquiries contact John Hepburn – Greenpeace Campaigner -  0407 231 173 - or James Lorenz 0400 376 021

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