One of the seven wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef holds a unique place in the hearts and minds of Australians.  

When plans were unveiled to dump dredge spoil from the proposed Abbot Point port expansion in Reef waters, as well as on the nationally-significant Caley Valley Wetlands, EDO lawyers were there to take up the case. 

EDO represented three conservation groups in separate court cases to stop the dumping of dredge spoil. These cases contributed to the historic new ban on dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area in 2015.

EDO also voices community concerns to government and has provided valuable legal input to documents including the Reef 2050 Plan and the WWF annual report to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

Caley Valley wetlands dumping case

In 2015, north Queensland community group, the Alliance to Save Hinchinbrook, was represented by EDO in court proceedings seeking a judicial review of Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s rushed assessment of the decision to dredge and dump on the Great Barrier Reef coastline.

Although the case was listed for a Federal Court hearing in March 2015, the new Queensland Government officially withdrew its applications to Federal Environment Minister Hunt and the case was not heard.

This came after the Queensland Government officially announced its plan to not dump dredge spoil on the Caley Valley wetlands.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park sea dumping case

EDO represented North Queensland Conservation Council in its Administrative Appeals Tribunal merits challenge to the 2014 decision of Minister Hunt to grant a permit for the dumping of up to 3 million cubic meters of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area from a proposed expansion at Abbot Point.

Seemingly responding to public pressure, including this case, the Federal Government announced it would ban dumping capital dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. In June 2015, regulation 88RA of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983 commenced to affect the ban.  As such, the case became redundant and the AAT ordered the cancellation of the permit with the consent of the parties. 

Abbot Point dredging case

EDO acted for Mackay Conservation Group in its Federal Court judicial review challenge to Environment Minister Hunt’s environmental approval of the port authority’s application to undertake a program of capital dredging and dumping at Abbot Point to facilitate the development of three new proposed port terminals: Terminal 0, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.

In June 2015, changes to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations commenced to ban capital dredge spoil dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which meant that the port was unlikely to act on the approval. As a result, in November 2015, the case was dismissed with the consent of the parties.

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