Hand delivering 7000 messages

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Feature Story - 26 July, 2012
Nearly 7000 public comments weren’t accepted by Indian conglomerate GVK about its proposed huge new coal terminal in the Great Barrier Reef. The reason: they were sent electronically and not by post. So today we delivered the messages in person at GVK’s office in Brisbane.

GVK is one of a handful of companies attempting to see Queensland’s Galilee Basin mined for coal and the coal exported to overseas markets via the Great Barrier Reef.

Like many of these companies, GVK is keen to have its application to build enormous coal infrastructure projects approved swiftly and with little public scrutiny. GVK plans to start building the first new coal terminal in the Great Barrier Reef, known as Terminal 3, by the end of the year. Its application was progressing quickly along the approval process, so imagine how GVK felt when it received thousands of emails from passionate people opposing its plans.

GVK stated it wouldn’t accept submissions sent electronically, so today we hand delivered GVK nearly 7000 notes – one for each person who emailed about its proposed huge new coal port in the World Heritage Area. GVK obviously wants to minimise the amount of opposition it receives and is feeling the heat of public outrage.

GVK’s Terminal 3 is just one of four terminals that are proposed at Abbot Point port. These are all planned to be built adjacent to a beach where green turtles are known to nest and within a humpback whale gathering area.

UPDATE: GVK will now accept email submissions. There’s only 3 days left! Please submit your comment 

The public’s ability to input into coal development plans may be about to get even tougher.

The Queensland Government is proposing new laws that would limit the public consultation timeframe for coal developments. With a series of major coal mines, rail infrastructure and coal ports in the pipeline, this is part of the state government’s plan to slash so-called “green tape”  for coal projects.

With one of the new proposed laws, as Environmental Defenders Office (Qld) observes, people would be given 15 days to put in a submission on an application to renovate a house in a character area, but only 20 days to assess an enormous coal mine that covers tens of thousands of hectares of land and includes impacts on vegetation, air quality and water.

Coal companies are showing little regard for the long-term health of our Reef or our climate, and governments are so far failing to put the interests of Australian communities and environments ahead of the reckless expansion of the coal industry. At this critical time, people power will continue to be paramount. We must make our voices heard loud and clear for the sake of our precious Great Barrier Reef and the stability of our climate.