11 Dec 2013

Coal port approval threatens reef - Greens

10:30 am on 11 December 2013

The Australian Greens say the approval of a coal port project by the federal government will be disastrous for the Great Barrier Reef.

Part of the Great Barrier Reef.

Part of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: NASA / AFP

Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday gave the Abbot Point project in north Queensland the go-ahead, subject to strict environmental conditions.

He has also approved a gas project by Arrow Energy on Curtis Island in central Queensland and a transmission pipeline to the island.

But Senator Larissa Waters says the Abbot Point approval is an environmentally disastrous decision which threatens the reef.

"The Abbott government is doing exactly what the World Heritage Committee told us not to do," she told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

AAP reports that federal approval limits dredging to 1.3 million cubic metres of sediment per year, down from 38 million cubic metres proposed under Labor.

Also, dredging can only be conducted in a limited window between 1 March - 30 June.

Mr Hunt defended his decision saying there would be permanent improvements to the Burdekin and the Don Rivers. That would result in a net benefit to the quality of the water in the reef.

"This is a significant step towards improving and protecting the Marine Park for future generations," he said.