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Letter to the Editor – C. Watson

Letter to the Editor
Gladstone Observer

With due respect to Noël Bowley, I wish to reply to his letter to the Editor on Monday 25th August.

Noel I think the important part of your letter inferred that you had worked for the Ports Corporation for 37 years and retired a decade ago. Unfortunately the Company you worked for and the one that existed during this fiasco are entirely different and while dredging has been carried out in Gladstone Harbour numerous times the difference this time is twofold, 1. The amount of dredge spoil and 2. The fact that this time they backhoe dredged mud which contained high levels of acid sulphate material.

The GBRMPAs own studies have recently discovered that the dredge spoil can actually travel up to 80 kilometres. One thing Ebony did not point out is that 2 members of the GBRMPA Board have financial interests in the Resources Industry. I find it very hard to believe they were not unduly influenced. In your position at the Gladstone Ports you had the relevant qualifications, don’t you think that anyone sitting on the GBRMPA Board should have the correct qualifications?

Do you believe that all the people who spoke about the problems are all lying? Did the whistleblower of the problems with the bund wall lie and was his photographic evidence false?

I for one congratulation Ebony for having the courage to voice her opinion in our local paper. I know how difficult that can be.

I love Gladstone and Gladstone Harbour as much as you and unfortunately I believe you do not hide from the truth, no matter how difficult because if we do not acknowledge the past mistakes we will continue to make them. Yes we are an industrial city but wouldn’t it have been nice if this latest rush had been done with the environment being the number one consideration. We could have been proudly showing off a model for what to do, not what not to do.

Cheryl Watson
South End

Reef dumping permit followed shortly after letter from Hunt

Reef dumping permit followed shortly after letter from Hunt

Source: http://www.dailymercury.com.au/news/Reef-dumping-permit-followed-after-hunt-letter/2316462/

Daniel Burdon | 12th Jul 2014 12:01 AM

ENVIRONMENT Minister Greg Hunt told the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to approve a controversial dredge spoil dumping proposal at Abbot Point just days before a permit was granted.

Documents released in answers to a Senate Estimates Question on Notice reveal Mr Hunt personally wrote to the authority just seven days before the authority approved the sea dumping permit.

Both Mr Hunt’s previous approval and the authority’s approval are already subject to court action, and both parties were remaining tight-lipped about the letter on Friday.

The North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation project would involve dredging three million cubic metres of sediment to expand the coal port, with the spoil created to be dumped in an existing dumping area in the marine park.

Earlier draft permit assessments have previously shown the authority was concerned about potentially wide-ranging impacts from the dumping proposal, including on coral near Holbourne Island and Nares Rock and the heritage-listed WWII Catalina wreck.

But the authority’s final approval documents have revealed publicly for the first time that Mr Hunt’s letter was one of only two key “grounds” relied on for approving the sea dumping permit.

While the letter itself was not released to the Senate, the documents show Mr Hunt wrote to the authority on January 23 this year, days before the permit was approved on January 31.

“I wish to advise you under section 163(1)(a) of the EPBC Act, that (the port) has addressed all of the requirements for the loading and disposal of sediments at sea and therefore recommend that a permit should be granted under section 19 of the Sea Dumping Act,” the document reads.

It is unclear why the letter was sent, as the documents show authority staff were already aware of the looming deadline for a decision, reporting “considerable time constraints have been experience in providing a comprehensive sea dumping assessment”.

The documents show the only other grounds to approve the permit were that alternatives, such as a different dump site or land reclamation, “could be seen to be disproportionate in costs”.

It also reveals many and varied grounds on which the permit could be refused, but wasn’t, including a “lack of adequate information to determine the likely effects of the proposed disposal option”.

Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters, who asked the Question on Notice, said the documents showed that “that science was dictating a refusal, but it was approved after the Minister wrote the letter”.

“My interpretation is that the Minister wrote what was an otherwise unnecessary letter – clearly this was a signal that the government expected the authority to approve it,” she said.

“With the budget at that point in time hanging over everybody’s head, and the Minster writing the letter, it is clear what the subtext was if it was not approved.”

An authority spokeswoman said GBRMPA was unable to comment, due to existing court actions over the approval.

A port spokeswoman said it was “important to understand that dredging has not yet occurred” and there were a number of conditions to be met to “ensure that impacts are avoided and mitigated”.

“Further, while modelling can provide guidance, it does not replace the knowledge and expertise of undertaking actual dredging campaigns,” she said.

Questions put to Mr Hunt’s office regarding the matter were unanswered at deadline on Friday.

Lying, thieving, greedy bastards

The following is a submission I made regarding the further expansion of the State Development Area in Gladstone in 2014.

Dear Sirs,
You may feel that since not many people turned up to the information sessions about the State Development Area changes, that no-one cares what you do.

This is not true. Many people have objected strenuously to this process over the years, and it has done them not one bit of good. Is it any wonder that most people have simply opted out of the process?

I am one of them, but I’ve decided to voice my thoughts on the whole process in a way which I hope you can understand. I’m going to put it very plainly. And when I say ‘You’ I am conflating government and fossil fuel corporations because I believe they are so intertwined that they cannot be separated.

You are lying, thieving bastards. You are greedy. You think that you can simply excise part of Australia and exempt it from due process, which is exactly what a State Development Area is. You think you can ride roughshod over a community, ruin an environment with impunity and take the money and run.

I am here to tell you that while the people of Central Queensland are slow to anger, when they are roused, they are a force to be reckoned with. Oh, we won’t be marching in the streets, have no fear of that, but you will find that your social licence has expired.

People, good people, have been leaving the area in droves. You will struggle to find the people you need, you will have to pay them double to stay there, and those people who will go anywhere for money are exactly the people who will leave at the drop of a hat.

And the good people who have left, who were forced to leave, are quietly agitating behind the scenes. You will find your finance is harder to get, your approvals much, much slower, and every act of environmental vandalism will be photographed and flashed around the world.

So go ahead, draw more lines on a map. Give with one hand as you take away with the other.

You will find that it will and has already backfired on you.

Kind Regards,
Anna Hitchcock

How to request a Statement of Reasons under the EPBC Act

This information is for all those people concerned and affected by certain decisions made by the Australian Minister for the Environment or his Department.

The design of the EPBC Act is to provide an environmental impact assessment process which allows for public consultation which is transparent to all stakeholders and interested persons. This means that at certain steps of the process where a decision has been made, persons can… request information from the Department of the Environment regarding that particular decision. This information is obtained by formally requesting a Statement of Reasons under Section 13 of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 from the following e-mail address: epbc.referrals@environment.gov.au.

Any request should include a statement as to why the person is aggrieved in accordance with Section 487 of the EPBC Act. The EPBC Act has a broad definition of aggrieved persons and as such pretty much any person would be able to request a decision under the Act. Once the Department has received this request within 28 days of a decision, a Statement of Reasons is required to be prepared and given to the person within 28 days. The Department has produced a Policy Statement which outlines the decisions where a Statement of Reasons can be requested from the Department/Minister. This Policy Statement is at: http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/98c097c0-0325-4e3e-b203-685b84142ec2/files/epbc-act-policy-statements-reasons.docx or click here

Requesting Statements of Reasons is a simple process that is rarely used but would be an important mechanism for obtaining information by the general public or conservation groups. I would encourage all those that are concerned by any decision made by the current Minister and the Department to request formal statements outlining the reasons for particular decisions under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act.

Sea level rise no longer considered in Planning Scheme

This was originally published on Gladstone Conservation Council’s Facebook page. The opinions are the author’s own.

“…we’d all better start praying, because the inevitable outcome of this poor policy is property damage and deaths. ” Read more below

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/sea-levels-no-longer-included-in-state-government-planning/story-fnihsrf2-1226778167541

From the linked article (address above) which you can read here: “A leaked Property and Infrastructure Cabinet Committee paper says: “Any local government that elects to include some allowance for sea level rise in their planning schemes will need to justify that the state interests relating to economic development are not materially affected by this.””

Soooo we’re going to allow local councils to make their own decision on this, but we can’t tell you if councils will be insured if they allow development that gets hit by storm surge, and don’t interfere with state projects with piddling objections that they might periodically get flooded with salt water.

Having personally been in a small cabin on the beach front in Bargara as ex-TC Oswald was passing overhead, I can tell you that storm surge is a real issue. Every high tide, the waves got closer, until they were almost underneath the cabin. As sea levels rise, this will only get worse during every extreme event.

I am all for allowing for local knowledge in planning decisions, but only the State Government has the resources to commission the studies to work out where storm surge will cause the most problems. And the money for the major works required to protect existing infrastructure. Local councils will have to do this by guess and by God and with few resources. And speaking of the big fella (no disrespect intended) we’d all better start praying, because the inevitable outcome of this poor policy is property damage and deaths.

By not including something as basic as sea level change in their policy, the State Government is putting money before people. That is unacceptable.

In the end, nature will win out. I just hope I’m not in a tourist cabin on the beachfront when it does.

Anna

Dan Rather Reports – Great Barrier Grief

For those who don’t know, Cheryl Watson has been a stalwart campaigner against the misinformation and spin campaigns put out by those who want the local community to believe that LNG is not deleterious to the environment around Gladstone.
Dan Rather Reports was on the Harbour Cruise when this incident occurred and it is illustrative of the division around the issue that exists in the Gladstone Community.
Embedded below find various links to the relevant You Tube videos.

Behind the Scenes

Excerpt from the program

Promo video for June 11 2013

Grants available

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection <http://www.vision6.com.au/ch/35572/17hwd/1916767/76504c8yp.html>

View Online <http://www.vision6.com.au/ch/35572/17hwd/1774109/76504f6xg.html> – Send to friend <http://www.vision6.com.au/ch/35572/17hwd/1752946/765041370d.html>

Round Two of the Everyone’s Environment grants program is open with $4 million available for projects that clean up, repair and restore the local environment. Continue reading