Australia: Plan for Balaclava Island Coal Port Dropped
The Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance (KAFDA), a community group based in central Queensland opposing port development in the Fitzroy Delta, have welcomed the announcement that GlencoreXstrata have dumped plans to build a coal export terminal on Balaclava Island in the Fitzroy Delta, but call on further action to reject other coal ports proposed for the delta.
The decision from GlencoreXstrata follow the recent announcement that KAFDA spokesperson Ginny Gerlach was to visit their AGM in Switzerland and call for the project to be withdrawn.
“The decision by GlencoreXstrata to scrap plans for an export terminal at Balaclava Island is a great step towards protecting the Fitzroy Delta from harmful industrialization,” Ginny Gerlach said, “However, this is only the first step, and protection of the delta from other proposals is still required.”
The Fitzroy Delta, an iconic natural wonder at the head of Keppel Bay, serves as an irreplaceable home for various endangered birds, turtles and the Australian Snubfin Dolphin.
Recently visited by Internationally renowned marine biologist Professor Callum Roberts, he reported that the delta “is as significant, extraordinary and precious as the Great Barrier Reef itself.”
“Today’s announcement by GlencoreXstrata provides the Australian and Queensland government the opportunity to legislate for the full protection of Fitzroy Delta against other proposed coal ports,” Ginny stated.
Amongst the proposals is a port at Seahill, proposed by the Gladstone Ports Corporation on the northern end of Curtis Island, and the Fitzroy Terminal Project, proposed by the Mitchell Group across the shoreline from Pt Alma within the Fitzroy Delta.
“The coal from the Fitzroy Terminal Project will be barged out of the delta day and night, into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park,” Ginny continued, “this constant traffic poses a risk to federally protected areas such as Peak Island, one of the three largest flatback turtle rookeries in the world.”
“The proposed methodology for transhipping the coal off the barges will require three vessels rafted together under one anchor, transferring coal in the exposed waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park,” continues Ms Gerlach. “Within the marine park, this is not even a permitted activity according to federal law, so why is it being considered?”
As Ms Gerlach concludes, “If approved, these proposals would set a dangerous precedent for treating our iconic Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area as a coal port. The Great Barrier Reef is a park, not a port.”
Press Release, May 14, 2013