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Our Successes · Nature & the Reef

No dumping in Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

30 June, 2015

Rejecting the dumping of dredge waste on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area should have been a no brainer - but unfortunately it was not for the State Government until our clients brought forward three historic court cases that would help place further pressure on parties to stop it.

EDO Qld legally represented three conservation groups in separate court cases to stop dangerous dumping of dredge spoil from the Abbot Point port expansion in Reef waters as well as on the internationally significant Caley Valley Wetlands.

These cases contributed to the historic new ban on dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area in 2015.

EDO Qld also voices community concerns to government and provides valuable legal input to documents including the Reef 2050 Plan and the WWF annual report to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

Caley Valley wetlands dumping case

North Queensland community group, the Alliance to Save Hinchinbrook, commenced court proceedings seeking judicial review of Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s rushed assessment of the decision to dredge and dump on the Great Barrier Reef coastline.

Although the case was listed for a Federal Court hearing on 16 and 17 March 2015, the the new Queensland Government officially withdrew its applications to Federal Environment Minister Hunt on 12 March 2015 and the case was not heard. This came after the Queensland Government officially announced its plan to not dump dredge spoil on the Caley Valley wetlands.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park sea dumping case

EDO Qld represented North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC) in their challenge to the decision of Minister Hunt (now responsible for the decision of his delegate at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) to grant a permit for the dumping of up to 3 million cubic meters of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area on 31 January 2014 .

On 26 June 2015 the AAT ordered the cancellation of the permit with the consent of the parties.  This was because on 2 June 2015 regulation 88RA of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983 commenced, which bans the dumping of capital dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. This made the sea dumping permit redundant and so the case was finalised.

Abbot Point dredging case

EDO Qld acted for Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) in their challenge to Environment Minister Hunt’s approval of  the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) application to undertake a program of dredging and dumping near Abbot Point to facilitate development of three new proposed port terminals: Terminal 0, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.

In June 2015, changes to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations commenced to ban capital dredge spoil dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which meant that NQBP was unlikely to act on the approval. As a result, in November 2015 the case was dismissed with the consent of the parties.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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