Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has blocked the creation of a new coal mine just 10K from the Great barrier Reef.
This is the first-time environmental laws have been used to reject a coal mine in Australia and could signal a willingness to halt more projects that threaten Biodiversity and habitat loss.
Ms Plibersek, said “I have decided not to approve the Central Queensland Coal Project because the risks to the Great Barrier Reef, freshwater creeks and groundwater are too great,”
“Freshwater creeks run into the Great Barrier Reef and onto seagrass meadows that feed dugongs and provide breeding grounds for fish.”
“the proposed mine would cause irreversible damage to nearby coastal habitats and release destructive sediment into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Region, which is already highly vulnerable.”
“I've decided that the adverse environmental impacts are simply too great.”
The project would have involved the construction of two open-cut pits to extract up to 10 million tonnes of coal each year.
It was expected to operate for twenty years, with the coal exported overseas for steel production.
Australia is a major global supplier of fossil fuels. When exports are factored in, the country accounts for producing 3.6% of the world's emissions, but with only 0.3% of the world's population.
Clive Palmer the mining magnate behind the bid said “It obviously wasn’t a decision made on the merits. It’s a political decision.It’s contrary to what human nature is. You want to create and develop wealth. You want to increase the pie, so we can protect our community with government revenue and GDP. It’sgoing contrary to the natural interests of the people of Australia.”
The department of the Environment received more than 9,000 public comments, with 98 per cent in favour of blocking the project.
Dr Coral Rowston, from Environmental Advocacy in Central Queensland, said the mine posed too great a risk to the nearby reef.