Plans to expand Abbot Point at Bowen, north of Mackay, is a hot environmental topic.
Plans to expand Abbot Point at Bowen, north of Mackay, is a hot environmental topic. Peter Holt

Ports boss swipes UNESCO over Abbot Point dredging debate

NORTH Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation has criticised UNESCO's draft World Heritage Committee decision on the Great Barrier Reef.

It has accused the organisation of making an overly simplistic assessment and overlooking critical assessment data regarding the impact to the Outstanding Universal Values of the World Heritage area.

NQBP chief executive officer Brad Fish said it had completely ignored "peer reviewed science" that examined the accumulative impacts of planned port development at Abbot Point, although UNESCO recognised "the excellent work" done by state and federal governments to protect and preserve the reef.

"For UNESCO to suggest that other options to develop and dispose of dredged material have not been fully investigated is not supported by the work that has been undertaken over the last 24 months. It is an overly simplistic assessment of the range of issues at Abbot Point," Mr Fish said.

The NQBP boss said the Abbot Point Cumulative Impact Assessment done in 2011/12 assessed the impact to the Outstanding Universal Values of the World Heritage area from multiple terminal developments, including dredging activity.

"This work was peer reviewed by leading experts including World Heritage, who assisted in establishing a robust impact assessment methodology," he said.

"This was ground breaking work. It was followed by the Public Environment Report which supported the findings that it was unlikely there would be a loss in Outstanding Universal Values or decline in integrity of the area from the proposed development."

Mr Fish said NQBP would never propose any plan that would detrimentally impact the reef, nor would any government approve such a plan. NQBP yesterday joined in legal action with Environment Minister Greg Hunt, after the minister was taken to Federal Court by the Mackay Conservation Group.


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