Final countdown for Abbot Point decision

MEMBERS of the public have just one week left to contact the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) with submissions either for or against the issuing of a sea dumping permit for the coal port of Abbot Point.

GBRMPA must decide whether to issue a permit to allow three million cubic metres of material to be lifted from near the terminal and moved into the marine park.

The reef's gatekeepers have said they will make their decision on dredging by January 31 and increasing public pressure could sway the result.

A GBRMPA spokeswoman said "community and stakeholder concerns are considered part of the risk assessment".

Meanwhile, a major independent investigation into Australia's largest-ever dredging project at the port of Gladstone was ordered on Monday by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who said this was a chance to find out what lessons could be learnt and determine if action was needed.

The Gladstone Ports Corporation dredging operation was nine-times larger than the one planned by North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) for Abbot Point.

The Abbot Point dredging plan was given approval by Mr Hunt late last year, on the condition that water quality was even healthier following the campaign.

The Australian Greens are pushing to have GBRMPA reject the dredging permit, which would likely hinder billions in coal development for the Galilee Basin west of Rockhampton.

Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters questioned how another dredging campaign near the reef could be approved just as an earlier effort was under investigation.

"We can't allow the devastation in Gladstone, which tourism and fishing operators are still suffering from, to be repeated anywhere else in the Great Barrier Reef," she said.

GBRMPA can be contacted on 4750 0700 or via email to info@gbrmpa.gov.au.