The recently announced Healthy Harbour program was set up by the state government in Queensland in order to monitor any water-quality issues that may arise from a second shipping channel.
The state government has finalised its terms of reference for the Gladstone Ports Corporation to follow as it works on the environmental impact assessment for the duplicate of the Gladstone shipping channel.
The project has attracted a lot of criticism, as it will involve side-scale dredging, which causes poor water quality, high fish mortality rates and marine diseases. Already people are working hard to clean up the area — for example, by using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic.
Environment Minister Andrew Powell hopes the Healthy Harbour partnership will quiet the fears.
“One of the most important parts of that partnership is to set up an independent scientific panel,” he said. “It will be responsible for bringing together all of the environmental monitoring that is occurring in that harbour to convey it to the community in a way that the community can understand and gain reassurance from.”
The Healthy Harbour program will deliver an annual report card so that the development can continue on with high environmental standards.