BY CHARLOTTE MUTORO
The coal terminal at Abbot Point is one of five ports along the Queensland coast to be given the go ahead for expansion.
Abbot Point, which is close to the Great Barrier Reef has been designated a port development priority area under the Queensland Ports Strategy.
UNESCO has expressed concern over the proposed developments close to the world heritage site in a report released a few days ago.
‘‘Considering the high rate of approvals over the past 12 years, this unprecedented scale of development affecting or potentially affecting the property poses serious concerns over its long-term conservation,’’ the UNESCO report states.
With a number of development proposals in the pipeline, awaiting approval UNESCO is considering imposing an “in danger” status to the world heritage site by February of next year.
“There are 35 major development applications seeking approval within the next 18 months that would impact on the reef … Thankfully UNESCO has recognised the scale of the threat and is calling for urgent action,” Program Director for Greenpeace, Ben Pearson said.
“We may as well kiss the reef goodbye if we sign off on even half of sixfold expansion of coal port capacity planned in the World Heritage Area,” Mr Pearson said.
“We understand the Great Barrier Reef is unique and special to all Queenslanders and we are committed to its protection for this, and future generations.” the Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney said.
The Abbot Point terminal was bought by the Indian coal importer Adani Enterprises in May 2011 for two billion dollars to assist India’s growing energy needs. Further plans lodged by the Hong Kong-based Energy World Corporation will see gas exports to Asia increase with a 1000 kilometre gas pipeline planned to run from Cooper’s basin to Abbots Point.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet, visible from space.