Lance Payne at Harbour Beach with a piece of coal. Picture: Tony Martin
Lance Payne at Harbour Beach with a piece of coal. Picture: Tony Martin

Eco-warrior’s coal spillage fight comes to an end

A MACKAY environmentalist has lost his challenge for a further review into coal contamination of the region's beaches.

But Lance Payne says he will continue to champion conservation issues that are close to his heart.

In January, Mr Payne applied for an Administrative Appeals Tribunal review of a 2017 investigation into coal spillage from a ship loader at the Port of Hay Point.

Queensland's Department of Environment and Science launched the probe following reports of coal and fine black material found on Mackay's East Point Beach.

The department closed the matter after it concluded that the low concentrations of coal found during the investigation presented very low risk to the environment and community.

An Administrative Appeals Tribunal spokeswoman said an application by Mr Payne to review the DES investigation had been dismissed.

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She said this was on the basis that "there was no decision that was reviewable by the tribunal".

Samples of coal Lance Payne says he found at East Point.
Samples of coal Lance Payne says he found at East Point.

Mr Payne said the appeal was his "last ditch attempt" to have the issue further explored.

"I've been self-funding this fight for nearly four years," he said.

"It has cost me a lot of money, time and effort to save this problem.

"This is just something I think we, as a community, need to take ownership of."

Since his appeal was rejected, Mr Payne has written to Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley to request that the Commonwealth conduct an independent audit of the region's coal ports.

"I don't want to see Mackay's marine environment declared an environmental disaster," he said.

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In January, a DES spokesman said the department had inspected the Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay coal terminals.

"Compliance officers from DES found that both coal terminals were operating in accordance with their EA," he said.

A spokesman for Ms Ley said she had received the letter and would respond.

"The Australian and Queensland governments continue to take action under the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan to limit the impacts of ports and port operations on the Great Barrier Reef," he said.


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