The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has given approval to a port in central Queensland to dump dredge spoil within the marine park.
The government body that protects the Great Barrier Reef has approved the dumping of more than 370,000 cubic metres of dredge spoil in the marine park.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has issued a permit to allow a port authority to dump the spoil as part of a dredging project at Hay Point coal port in central Queensland.
The decision has angered conservation groups, and comes only months after the authority gave the green light for three million tonnes of spoil to be dumped as part of a project to expand the nearby Abbot Point coal port.
“It is an astounding level of arrogance,” North Queensland Conservation Council spokeswoman Wendy Tubman said.
“The government claims it is protecting the reef while allowing it to be subjected to such damage from out-of-control sea dumping.”
She also says the federal and Queensland governments are taking UNESCO “for a ride”.
The United Nation’s environment arm has said it regrets the federal government’s decision to approve the Abbot Point dredging project, and has raised concerns about the overall health of the reef.
UNESCO is expected to discuss whether to list the reef as a World Heritage site “in danger” when it meets next week.
The Ports Corporation of Queensland wants to carry out the works at Hay Point to make it easier for ships to access the port and to increase capacity.
It’s estimated 378,400 cubic metres of dredge spoil will be dumped within the marine park over three years.
The dredging will be carried out within the marine park and the World Heritage Area.
GBRMPA says no hard coral reefs are in the approved dredge disposal area.
It also says the permit imposes a number of conditions to minimise potential effects on the marine park, including the Whitsundays, which is north of Hay Point.
“With safeguards in place, the proposed dredging and dredge disposal is unlikely to significantly impact on the environmental, social, heritage and cultural values of the Marine Park,” the authority said in a statement.