Environment group takes Barrier Reef authority to court

AN ENVIRONMENT group has taken the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to court over its approval of the Abbot Point dredging project.

The North Queensland Conservation Council, funded by a raft of public donations, officially filed an Administrative Appeal Tribunal.

Jo-Anne Bragg from the Environmental defenders Office of Queensland is representing the council in the action.

She told APN the case would see the EDO argue the approval of the dumping of three million cubic metres of dredge spoil was not given according to the authority's own criteria for sea dumping.

While she could not go into detail, she said the council wanted to see the complete reasons provided for the approval, given their belief it was inconsistent with the authority's obligations to protect the reef.

She said the court case would seek the tribunal's approval for a hearing to scrutinise the type and adequacy of the assessment of the dumping application.

While the authority did not respond, the proponent of the port expansion, North Queensland Bulk Ports, hit out at the legal challenge.

A spokeswoman for the NQBP said it was "incredibly disappointing" that interest groups had used donations on the case, rather than spend that money "on the real issues impacting the reef".

"But they seem quite content to spend taxpayers money which will be required to defend GBRMPA," she said.

"The truth is these groups have provided no relevant scientific evidence which shows that this proposed dredging program will impact the reef."

The court challenge comes as a key financial backer of a separate proposed expansion at the port, Abbot Point X, pulled out of the development this week.

That backer, Lend Lease, was formerly in a joint partnership with Aurizon to fund the expansion, but did not respond to calls on Thursday as to why it had pulled out

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