Last year, EDO provided specialist legal assistance to more than 2,300 community groups and people across the country to help them uphold our environmental laws, participate in environmental decision-making processes and have their say on developments that threaten our environment.  

In the spectacular Hinchinbrook region, we assisted our long-standing client Kenn Parker to protect the Girramay National Park and Great Barrier Reef from harmful acid sulphate run-off from a failed development.  

Mr Parker has been working to protect and conserve the Hinchinbrook region — with its abundance of marine life and wildlife, conservation wetlands and natural wonders including the spectacular Wallaman Falls — since the early 1990s.  

He is a vocal critic and campaigner against the now-abandoned Port Hinchinbrook Marina Resort — a failed development at Oyster Point near Cardwell in North Queensland. The development included an all-tides, 250-berth marina and boat-ramp that required large-scale dredging and mangrove removal.  

The resort has long been scrutinised at local, state, and federal levels for its environmental impact, most notably in a Senate Committee Report in 1999 that found acid sulphate soils in the area which could lead to acid run-off that would harm the Great Barrier Reef. 

Client engages EDO 

Last year, Mr Parker engaged the Environmental Defenders Office for assistance. He had discovered that acid sulphates were being released from failed spoil ponds into the Girramay National Park and Southern Wet Topics, harming endangered flora and fauna, including habitat for the threatened southern cassowary and the mahogany glider. The spoil ponds were built to dump the dredge spoils from the marina and boat-ramp. 

The Girramay National Park is adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most vibrant and complex ecosystems in the world. The Reef is home to unique threatened species such as dugongs and green turtles and the shallower marine areas support half the world’s diversity of mangroves. Water pollution from acid sulphates poses a significant threat to the Reef’s delicate ecosystem, making contamination from this failed development extremely concerning.  

Environmental Protection Order issued   

EDO’s legal and science teams worked closely with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science and Innovation to identify the environmental harm from the failed spoil ponds. From our investigations and legal interventions, we have recently been advised the department has issued an Environmental Protection Order to the owner of the failed resort to fix the spoil ponds to prevent further acid sulphate run-off. The department will also continue to monitor the site for any additional environmental harm. 

In the words of our client:

“EDO has stood side by side in our protection of the Hinchinbrook World Heritage area. Without the 30-year-long legal advice and the many legal challenges met head on by the EDO, a number of species of wildlife in this area would have been lost!”

Kenn Parker