The announcement by the Queensland Government's Minister for the Environment Stephen Miles to make the Fitzroy Delta a declared fish habitat marks the end to the Balaclava Island Coal Export Terminal proposed by then Xstrata (Glencore). At the height of Australia's coal boom, the pristine waters of the Fitzroy Delta and Balaclava Island's wetland were proposed for development to support coal exports.
Friends of the Earth welcomes the decision by Minister Stephen Miles to protect the Fitzroy Delta, and the waters of Keppel Bay, which are home to the Snubfin Dolphin, and looks forward to the finalisation of the regions planning to protect the area from future development.
Yet to be finalised by the Queensland Government are the formal changes to the Port of Gladstone to remove Balaclava Island and parts of the Fitzroy Delta and Keppel Bay from the ports strategic port land. Friends of the Earth understands it is the intention of the Queensland Government to do so, but until these important ecological areas are removed from the control of the Gladstone Port Corporation, they are under threat by industrial development.
The importance of the declared fish habitat in the Fitzroy Delta cannot be overstated. The waters and lands of the Fitzroy Delta were marked for massive development to support Queensland fossil fuel expansion plans. The Balaclava Island Coal Export Terminal proposed by then Xstrata (Glencore) was to support the Wandoan Coal Project in the Surat Basin. The Wandoan mega mine would have produced 30Mt of coal per year, equal to that of the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine in the Galilee Basin.
Friends of the Earth's 5 year campaign resulted in the shelving of the Wandoan Coal Project and put on hold 11 coal mines planned for the northern Surat Basin. However this mine is still on Glencore's books and continues to threaten the regions farming land.
Friends of the Earth will continue the work to ensure the Port of Gladstone's new Master Plan removes Port Alma, Balaclava Island and the waters of the Fitzroy Delta and Keppel Bay from Gladstone's strategic port land area.
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