Australia has approved major dredging work to expand a coal shipping port adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, according to a report by Reuters news service.
The nod for further dredging at the Abbot Point port follows agreements not to dispose of up to 12 million cubic meters of waste inside the reef and instead use the material for land infill.
Australia’s environment minister Greg Hunt said the amount of dredging allowed had been reduced to 3 million cubic meters from up to 38 million proposed previously to better protect the marine environment.
“Some of the strictest conditions in Australian history have been placed on these projects to ensure that any impacts are avoided, mitigated or offset,” Hunt said.
But environmentalists said any dredging will damage the reef.
“Dredging and dumping on this scale is a body blow to an already fragile reef,” said Felicity Wishart, Barrier Reef Campaign Director for the Australian Marine Conservation Society.