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Our Successes · Nature & the Reef

Saving the Mary from Traveston Crossing Dam

30 November, 2012

EDO Qld assisted the successful campaign to stop the Traveston Crossing Dam. The Federal Environment Minister refused to approve the dam due to likely unacceptable impacts on the Australian lungfish, Mary River turtle and Mary River cod.

In one of the most effective community-based environmental campaigns in Australian history, Save the Mary campaigners defeated a Queensland Government plan to build the Traveston Crossing Dam. Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced in late 2009 that he would refuse approval for the dam under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

As legal advisers for the Save the Mary River Coordinating Group, EDO Qld commends the community’s determination to keep the Mary River flowing. The dam would have threatened numerous wildlife species and drowned high-quality agricultural land and endangered vegetation communities. EDO Qld advised the Coordinating Group on the approvals processes and on legal options to challenge approval.

The Queensland Government announced by media release in April 2006 their intention to build a large dam upstream of Gympie in the Mary River catchment. They proceeded as if approval of the dam was a fait accompli, before any community consultation or environmental assessments.

Queensland’s Coordinator-General approved the dam under Queensland’s State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 in October 2009. Contrary to best practice environmental law, this legislation does not allow appeals against approvals.

EDO Qld has long been critical of the assessment processes under the SDPWO Act, and viewed the Queensland Government’s foregone approval for the dam as an indictment of these processes.

The dam would have destroyed vital habitat for the endangered Mary River cod and Mary River turtle and the vulnerable Queensland lungfish. The Mary River contains one of the last remaining major spawning grounds of the 180 million year old lungfish. Its other major spawning habitat in the Burnett River was destroyed by Walla Weir and Paradise Dam . The dam would have drowned 240 hectares of endangered regional ecosystems. Altered flows were likely to affect the downstream Ramsar-listed Great Sandy Strait and World Heritage Fraser Island. The Queensland Government failed to consider other options for addressing water supply needs of Southeast Queensland such as recycling and demand management.

The Federal Environment Minister refused to approve the dam due to likely unacceptable impacts on the Australian lungfish, Mary River turtle and Mary River cod.

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

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