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Australia: UNESCO pleased by delay in Great Barrier Reef dredging decision

News // August 12, 2013

UNESCO says a federal government delay on a dredging project near the Great Barrier Reef will allow a fully-informed decision on its fate.

The Herald Sun newspaper says Australia's Environment Minister, Mark Butler, has announced that†he is†delaying for three months a decision on whether to allow the dredging of three million tonnes of soil to expand Abbot Point, south of Townsville.

The project, which would make Abbot Point one of the largest coal ports in the world, has raised concerns it could impact on the World Heritage listing of the reef.

UNESCO's World Heritage Centre, which is the secretariat to the World Heritage convention, said it believes Friday's decision will ensure the submission can be fully analysed by the government.

"The postponement should allow for sufficient time to consider the conclusions of any environmental impact assessment that might have been carried out in advance of the proposed terminal expansion," UNESCO spokeswoman Sue Williams told AAP in a statement.

North Queensland Bulk Ports has proposed dumping dredged soil in the reef's World Heritage Area.
UNESCO says the Australian government should not allow the project to go ahead if it impacts "individually or cumulatively" on the universal value of the reef or threatens the long-term sustainable development of the area.

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