Government demands environment data on Abbot Point dredging

THE Federal Environment Department has demanded more detail on the potential impacts of the controversial Abbot Point dredging project on the Great Barrier Reef.

In a statement of reasons released on December 23, the department has furhter explained its earlier decision on what details are needed before an approval can be made.

Last week the State Government issued tenders for the work to be completed, but the Federal Government has told proponent North Queensland Bulk Ports it has not provided enough information.

Specifically, a Federal Environment Department decision-maker on the project has sought more detail on the project's potential impacts on the reef, on the Caley Valley wetland and what alternatives were considered.

The project was earlier fast-tracked by Environment Minister Greg Hunt, allowing it to proceed to a decision without a full environmental impact assessment under federal law.

Mr Hunt's decision followed the port changing from offshore dumping of dredge spoil to onshore disposal in the nationally listed wetland habitat.

Public documents reveal the department has sought more detail, which was promised but not yet delivered, on underwater noise, sediment plume modelling, and a "scientific review of potential dredging impacts and timing for coral spawning, seagrass growth and turtle nesting".

The latest decision also reveals the department wants more information about the "cumulative offset and indirect impacts" of the project, including "shipping and greenhouse emissions" - a controversial issue as the port development would facilitate massive new coal mines and exports to India and China.

It also asked for more detail about the potential impacts of the project on seven vulnerable species, seven "endangered species and communities" and 43 "migratory species" that the department wrote were "of particular interest".

The documents request information on all species that could be "significantly impacted" by the project, as well as those "contributing to the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef".

NQBP did not respond to questions on Monday.

CORRECTION: The original article published said the department had delayed a decision. APN would like to clarify the department released a 'statement of reasons' clarifying the details sought on the project's environmental impacts.


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