A proposal from Hong Kong-based Energy World Corporation is sure to invite opposition from green groups and local residents in Queensland because of its probable impact on the environment.
The firm has submitted its plans to build a large liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal at Abbott Point from where it would pipe gas 1,000 kilometres from Cooper Basin. The transported LNG would then be shipped to Asia, estimated at 2 million tonnes,
Besides the location of the venture, what would incur the ire of environmentalist is the required dredging of at least 500,000 cubic metres of materials that would be placed on land to construct the CAPLNG plant. But the Australian Marine Conservation Society has a higher estimate of 800,000 tonnes of dredging to be done.
The planned LNG venture would come after the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority gave in February the green light to dump 3 million tonnes of dredge materials in the environmentally sensitive region as part of the state's coal expansion plan.
The Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act considers the Energy World plan a referred detail, meaning a referral is needed since the venture would likely have a big impact on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or World Heritage properties.
Besides the dumping of the 3 million tonnes of dredge spoil within the marine park, the big jump in coal shipment would increase vessel traffic along the reef.
"This is out of the blue. The dredging itself is very damaging to the marine environment," said Felicity Wishart, campaign director of the society.
A spokesman for Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the federal government is studying the proposal to find out if it must be assessed under the national environment law. At the same time, he assured the government is determined to ensure the area retains its international recognition for its outstanding universal value.