ENVIRONMENT MINISTER HALTS PROPOSED DREDGE NEAR GREAT BARRIER REEF
As the United Nations body responsible for world heritage sites expressed concern that Australia did not inform it of plans to create one of the world's largest coalports adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, environment minister Mark Butler deferred the decision, citing new reports that may influence whether the project is approved. Butler was due to decide by last Friday whether to allow the dredging of 3 million cubic meters of seabed to double Abbot Point port's coal capacity, but the minister pushed the deadline back to November 8, after the election. Butler said that recently received reports required that he "stop the clock" on the decision, as studies indicated that the dredged material had high potential to damage the Great Barrier Reef. Marc Patry, program specialist at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, sent a letter to the government last Thursday expressing surprise at the lack of notification and asking for more information on the proposed dredging. He compared the situation to the similar lack of communication for a dredging project in Gladstone. "Generally speaking it's the procedure that we are told about big projects so we can ascertain the impact on the site, but we haven't heard anything from the government, as far as I understand," he said. For the full story, see http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/09/reef-dredging-decision-delayed and http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/09/world-heritage-queries-reef-plans.