Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has rejected an application for a coal mine proposed by Clive Palmer’s company Central Queensland Coal.
Plibersek announced her intention to reject the mine last year, but has now finalised that decision following a period of public consultation.
It’s one of the first times a Federal Environment Minister has refused a major coal project on environmental grounds.
The Central Queensland Coal Project planned to mine millions of tonnes of coal a year using open cut coal mines near Rockhampton, less than 10km from the Great Barrier Reef.
The Queensland Department of Environment and Science
recommended in 2021 that the project not proceed, saying it posed “a number of unacceptable risks”.
The Environment Minister has powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act to refuse approval for
coal projects. This is the first project Plibersek has assessed as Minister.
In a statement today, Plibersek said she had decided the environmental costs were “simply too great… the risk of pollution and irreversible damage to the reef is very real.”
Plibersek cited risks to freshwater and fragile seagrass meadows as reasons for her decision. She said more than 9,000 public submissions had been received.
Labor on Coal and Gas:
The Government does not have an overarching position on its approach to new coal and gas projects, saying instead it will assess projects on a case-by-case basis.
In a different decision last month, Plibersek approved an extension to the coal mining licence of an existing mine in Queensland until 2063.
The Environment Minister’s refusal powers do not specifically include consideration of the emissions impact of projects. Greens and independents have called for a ‘climate trigger’ to be introduced to the approvals process.