24 October 2013 — UPDATED 25 October 2013 – A group of 36 environmental action groups have written an open letter to Lend Lease’s board of directors asking the company to discontinue all involvement in the proposed AP-X coal terminal development at Abbot Point.
The letter says the proposed terminal, about 25 kilometres north of Bowen on the Queensland coast, poses a specific threat to the marine environment of the Great Barrier Reef “and a broader threat relating to global warming when the coal that is shipped through the port is burned”. They also say that Lend Lease will incur “reputational risk” by engaging with the project.
A spokeswoman for Lend Lease said the company was currently shortlisted, as part of NorthHub with JV partner Aurizon, for a proposed project – a staged expansion of Abbot Point Coal Terminal in North Queensland.
“In accordance with its usual practices, prior to making any commitment to APX, Lend Lease will undertake appropriate investment reviews having regard to the project and taking into account a range of social, environmental and economic factors. In addition, we understand the Abbot Point expansion is dependent on receiving both State and Federal approvals, including extensive environmental assessments.”
According to the letter the development of AP-X would require several million tonnes of dredging, with the dredge spoil being dumped in the Reef’s waters, the group says.
Claims made in the letter include that:
- Dredging and dumping of seabed within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area will put the already struggling reef ecosystem under further strain
- The development would also lead to thousands of additional ship movements each year, greatly increasing the risk to the Reef, its coral and wildlife being damaged by collisions and oil spills
- Coal that is to be shipped through Abbot Point will fuel climate disruption and extreme weather events.
“The world is facing a climate emergency and it is essential that we immediately reduce our emissions and phase out the use of coal,” the letter says. “The expansion of Abbot Point would be a massive step in the opposite direction, enabling the mining of more coal in the Galilee and Bowen Basins in central Queensland.
“If the Galilee Basin coal deposits are developed, the world will have almost no chance of avoiding 2 degrees of warming.
“Finally, we are sure that you will be following, as we are, the growing ‘carbon bubble’ risk to fossil fuel assets as governments take action on climate change.
“We note in particular that in July, Goldman Sachs released a report in which they concluded
“… overseas demand for thermal coal — the kind used in power plants — has been overestimated. New investments in thermal coal infrastructure, unless they come online quickly, will miss a rapidly closing window for profitability. In coming years, there won’t be enough demand growth to justify such investments”.”
The groups says, in conclusion, they believe that there would be significant reputational and material risk for Lend Lease due to any involvement in the AP-X coal terminal.
“Several major Australian environmental organisations representing millions of people are opposed to its establishment.
“Increasingly the Australian public is becoming involved in the campaign to save an Australian icon, The Great Barrier Reef, from the threats posed by this development. Moreover, as the public becomes increasingly aware of the threats posed by the Galilee Basin, it is increasingly likely that projects associated with the mining of this region will be resisted by the community.
“Lend Lease has a proud record of incorporating sustainability principles into its business. Involvement in the AP-X coal terminal development could ruin this legacy.
“We urge you to immediately withdraw from any further involvement with this project.”
The letter is signed by:
- Australian Youth Climate Coalition
- Greenpeace Australia Pacific
- Friends of the Earth Australia
- Australian Marine Conservation Society
- Avaaz, 350.org
- Lock the Gate Alliance
- Doctors for the Environment Australia
- Public Health Association of Australia
- Environment Victoria
- Mackay Conservation Group
- Cairns and Far North Environment Centre
- Clean Air Queensland, Nimbin Environment Centre
- Our Land, Our Water, Our Future
- Oakey Coal Action Alliance, Market Forces
- Climate Action Monaro, Bellingen Environment Centre
- Climate Justice Program
- Abbot Point Action Group
- Stop Brisbane Coal Trains
- Order of Underwater Coral Heroes Volunteers
- Yarra Climate Action Now
- Northern Illawarra Sustainability Alliance
- Groundswell Gloucester
- Locals Into Victoria’s Environment
- ClimActs, CLIMARTE
- Save the Reef
- Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation Alliance
- Wodonga Albury Towards
- Climate Health
- North Coast Environment Council and Armidale Action on Coal Seam Gas and Mining.