Court case against reef dredging plan dropped
TOURISM operators have dropped their court action against the Abbot Point dredging project.
The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators reached an agreement with Great Barrier Reef Marine Parks Authority and North Queensland Bulk Ports.
A director from AMPTO will be appointed to the NQBP Management Response Group, which will oversee capital dredging and disposal approval at the port.
Executive director Col McKenzie said without the assistance of Environment Minister Greg Hunt and NQBP they would not have withdrawn their case.
"NQBP's recent announcement that it was indefinitely postponing the 11 million cubic metre dredging project at Dudgeon Point near Mackay, is also welcomed and will assist in providing enough time for the GBRMPA, governments and industry in getting the knowledge gaps associated with dredge spoil disposal in the marine park answered, before another major project occurs," he said.
The Federal Court was due to hear AMPTO's challenge next month.
Despite dropping the case, the group is still asking for scientific briefings and research before any dredging happens.
Federal member for Dawson George Christensen said the news was great for the community and the economy.
"The decision to pull out of legal action clears the way for job-creating infrastructure that will benefit the local communities around North Queensland for many years to come," he said.
Mr Christensen said the operators were now happy with the situation which was important.
"... that sends a strong message on how important economic development can proceed without significant impacts on the environment," he said.
Mr McKenzie said the tourism industry in the Great Barrier Reef catchment was worth $5.8 billion a year and employed 63,000 people.
"We must protect the reef and AMPTO can and will challenge any project that threatens reef health," he said.