Community worried about environment despite support for coal project

A telephone survey of residents in Queensland’s north has found most are in favour of the proposed Dudgeon Point coal terminal development.

In July, North Queensland Bulk Ports commissioned an independent phone survey of 420 people from Mackay, Hay Point, and Sarina to ask what they thought of the planned expansion, The Daily Mercury reported.

According to the results, 70 per cent of people said they felt the proposed development would be positive for the region while 13 – 15 percent viewed it as not positive. The remaining 13-14 per cent said they were unsure.

Of the positive benefits residents expected to see, employment, improved economy and business opportunities were highest on the list.

However, environmental concerns over the development were high with 75 per cent saying they also expected to see negative impacts. Damage to marine life, The Great Barrier Reef,  reduced water quality as well as coal dust, were all seen as negatives for the respondents.

NQBP deputy chief executive officer said the results would be used to ascertain the community feeling surrounding the project as a way to best manage the development.

"NQBP is committed to understanding the issues and concerns of the community," he said.

"It is very important for us to be able to demonstrate to the community that we can manage their concerns.
"We expect that the community will be concerned about environmental and social impacts but they also understand that such a project has enormous economic benefit to the region."

Stewart-Harris said it was the NQBP’s job to ensure that any development on port land was sustainable.

"We are just as concerned about adverse impacts as the communities in which we operate. We commission a comprehensive, independent set of environment, social and economic studies which inform an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to help us objectively assess such a project," he said.

Image: Daily Mercury

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