Barrier Reef fears sink Palmer’s push for new coal mine

Clive Palmer and UAP senator Ralph Babet are making a last-ditch appeal before the referendum.

Clive Palmer and UAP senator Ralph Babet are making a last-ditch appeal before the referendum. Photo: AAP

coal mine proposed by Clive Palmer has been rejected on the grounds it could threaten the Great Barrier Reef, freshwater creeks and ground water.

The proposed Central Queensland Coal Project was an open-cut mine northwest of Rockhampton that would have had capacity to produce up to 10 million tonnes of coal every year for 25 years.

The refusal by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is the first such determination to be made under national environmental law.

Ms Plibersek announced on Wednesday she decided to knock back the project because it would have unacceptable impacts on nearby areas.

She said it posed a very real risk of causing irreversible damage to the Great Barrier Reef as it was less than 10km from the natural wonder.

“After a thorough assessment of all of the information before me, I’ve decided to stick with my decision and I won’t be approving the Central Queensland Coal Project,” Ms Plibersek said in a video posted to Twitter.

“I’ve decided that the adverse environmental impacts are simply too great.”

A spokesman for Mr Palmer said he and his executive team were considering the decision.

A media conference is expected on the Gold Coast on Friday morning.

Ms Plibersek proposed on August 1 last year to not approve the project and undertook public consultation.

More than 9000 comments were received and 98 per cent were against approving the mine.

Key reasons included its impact on estuarine and near-shore ecosystems and surface water quality, as well as the potential for increased sediment being released into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The Environment Council of Central Queensland, which launched a legal intervention in July, said all Australian coal and gas should stay in the ground.

“Tanya Plibersek has rightly assessed the impact the central Queensland mine will have on the reef and surrounding waterways – what comes next in how the minister considers each of the other new gas and coal proposals is critical,” council president Christine Carlisle said.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said there were 118 coal and gas projects under consideration.

“Any new or expanded coal or gas projects will blow Labor’s already weak 43 per cent target out the water,” she said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Jaclyn McCosker said the mine would have been a “climate and nature disaster”.

“Pollution from the mine would have damaged local habitats, including nesting beaches for turtles and seagrass meadows needed by dugongs,” she said.

Flynn MP Colin Boyce said the decision would adversely impact on resource sector investment in Australia.

However, the coalition MP said while he supported the development of more coal mines, their proximity to the reef and high-grade agricultural land needed to be considered.

“I can understand the environmental protocols that need to be met,” he said.


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