Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s rejection of the Clive Palmer-owned Central Queensland Coal Mine proposal is a scientifically sound decision and a win for the Great Barrier Reef.
Ms Plibersek’s decision to reject the coal mine today - the first in Australian history under federal environment laws - is the final nail in the coffin for the project after the minister indicated it would not be allowed to proceed last year.
The mine would have been located on the coast north of Rockhampton, just 10km from the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Environmental Advocacy in Central Queensland director Dr Coral Rowston said the Central Queensland community had put its weight behind the campaign to reject the project.
“It was clear this coal mine was unacceptable on environmental grounds from day one, and we thank Minister Plibersek for listening to the science and the Queensland government rejecting this ridiculous proposal,” she said.
“The tourism industry, fishing industry, Styx catchment landholders, and many of us in the community wrote submissions, signed petitions, attended rallies and met with government representatives to make sure decision-makers knew the community valued the Reef, wetlands, endangered species, and groundwater far more than a coal mine.
“This is a victory for the Reef, for tourism, for communities that depend on the Reef for their livelihoods, and for all those who cherish this natural wonder.”
Dr Rowston said the decision was timely in light of the huge volumes of wastewater Central Queensland coal mines recently dumped into the Fitzroy River Basin, which were now on their way to the Reef.
“If the Central Queensland Coal Project had been in operation last month when we were in flood, it would have pumped millions of litres of toxic wastewater directly into the Broad Sound fish habitat area - a vital nursery for many species vital to the Reef’s health and our fishery industry,” she said.
Minister Plibersek’s department is now in the process of reviewing numerous other Central Queensland coal mines, and Dr Rowston urged her to apply similarly sound scientific logic when deciding their fate.
“The Minister has rightfully listened to the scientific advice and rejected the Central Queensland Coal Project. If she continues to adhere to scientific principles, it follows she must likewise reject other proposed coal projects.”
Lock the Gate Queensland Coordinator Ellie Smith said, “We welcome Minister Plibersek’s decision to reject this coal mine. It was an outrageous proposal that would have carved up farmland and bushland, draining local groundwater and dumping toxic mine water into the reef.”
“This is the first coal mine* in Australian history to be rejected after an assessment under federal environmental laws, but if Minister Plibersek is serious about protecting the Reef, it can’t be the last,” she said.
“The reality of climate change is that no government anywhere in the world can open new coal and gas projects if we want to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic global warming.”
*While this is the first coal mine to be rejected by the federal government on environmental grounds in Australian history, it is the second time a coal project has been rejected by the Federal Government. Waratah Coal’s proposed coal terminal and rail line at Shoalwater Bay was rejected in the early planning stage in 2008.