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South East Queensland Regional Environment Coordination Network


3 December 2004

Decision to Mine Moreton Bay Imminent :

Environment groups call for a proper Public Inquiry

The Brisbane Region and the Sunshine Coast Environment Councils believe that the State Government is preparing to move on plans to mine over 20 Million tones of sand from Moreton Bay, and today called on the State or Federal Governments to conduct an open and accountable public inquiry into the proposal.

"We believe the unreleased Phase Two study and its recommendations are on track to be put to State cabinet. We believe it recommends the extraction of over 20 million tones of sand and the opening of a new large shipping channel in northern Moreton Bay" said Michael Petter, Coordinator, Brisbane Region Environment Council. "The State Government hasn't released the Phase Two study to the public nor allowed any non- government input during its development."

"BREC is concerned that the mining expansion will effect fisheries, water quality and ecohydrological process in Moreton Bay and north as far as the Great Sandy Region. The clean sand areas are important for crabs and other marine life. The sand areas play an important role in the filtering nutrients such as nitrogen. They can also play a very important role in the silica budget of the Bay which in turn affects plankton varieties at the base of the food chain."

"The Government is arguing that this will have less impact than the very damaging extraction of sand from rivers and floodplains. But in fact they are pressing ahead to continue mining floodplains and other land sources throughout S.E. Queensland AND to mine Moreton Bay." continued Mr Petter.

"The Government has failed to come to grips with the limited nature of these resources and the need to urgently reduce our consumption of sand and gravel and to recycle as much of these materials as possible. They continue to say that they can mine faster than its is being replenished and be sustainable !" he said.

Lindsay Holt, Campaigner for the Sunshine Coast Environment Council, said "The Government departments continue to insist that removing sand from the Northern Banks in the Bay won't have an impact further up the coast. But studies done by a Newcastle University have shown the sand movements up the coast go as far north as Fraser Island. E.g. I quote :

"From the general character of sediment transport on the eastern Australian coast, it seems reasonable to assume that virtually all the sand in the Fraser system originated from further south and was supplied by long shore transport processes."  RIVER OF SAND - A GEOLOGICAL  PERSPECTIVE ON THE EVOLUTION OF FRASER ISLAND AND SURROUNDING SEABED by Associate Professor Ron Boyd, Ian Goodwin, Kevin Ruming and Shannon Davies of Earth and Ocean Science Group, Earth Sciences, University of Newcastle, NSW, 2308."

" We fear that mining the sand from the Northern Banks could destabilise Bribie Island, adversely affect Ramsar and other wetlands in the Marine Park, and affect sand replenishment on the beaches and dunal systems of the Sunshine and Cooloola Coasts and on World Heritage listed Fraser Island. The State Government would be foolish to jeopardise these high value, sustainable environmental, recreational and economic assets by approving ecologically unsustainable exploitation of the Northern Banks. An full and public inquiry is clearly needed to explore the issues involved. If the State has not already referred the proposed mining of the Northern Banks to the Federal Environment Minister, it should do so immediately. We will ask the Commonwealth to call in the proposal if the State refuses to refer it." Mr Holt said.

"The State Government has continued to shrug off concerns from environment groups, recreational fishing groups and Traditional Owners about the sand mining of Moreton Bay. The Moreton Bay Sand Study from day one assumed that the mining would proceed regardless of concerns anyone raised. It requires a full and open public debate about such a major proposal in a Marine Park,  not secret deals done between Governments and private corporations. We call on the State or Federal Governments to establish an accountable Publc Inquiry as soon as practicable." Mr Petter concluded.

For More Information

Michael Petter BREC 39015577

Shane Coghill BREC Traditional owners Group

Lindsay Holt SCEC 54415747

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