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Central Queensland coal project rejected by environment minister

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has stifled Clive Palmer’s plans for a Queensland coal mine.

The final decision follows the minister’s initial proposal to reject the central Queensland coal project in 2022, citing the potential threat the mine presents to the Great Barrier Reef.

Plibersek’s decision was empowered by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which regulates matters of national environmental significance.

As part of the decision-making process, Plibersek invited people on both sides of the argument plead their cases. The minister’s department received more than 9000 public submissions in only 10 business days – 98 per cent were in favour of blocking the project.

Announcing her rejection of the proposed mine via a Twitter video, the minister cited the adverse environmental impacts of the open-cut mine, which was planned just 10 kilometres away from the Great Barrier Reef.

“I’ve decided to stick with my decision, and I won’t be approving the central Queensland coal project,” Plibersek said. “The adverse environmental impacts are simply too great.

“The project would have unacceptable impacts of freshwater in the area and potentially on fragile seagrass meadows that feed dugongs, and provide feeding grounds for fish.”

The proposed project would have included two open-cut pits to extract up to 10 million tonnes of coal each year for 25 years.

The possibility of an appeal of the decision will depend on whether Palmer and his associates can establish a legal error in the judgement.

Parties behind the central Queensland project have yet to comment.

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