Abbot Point

26 February 2014 — Lend Lease has pulled out of its involvement in the coal port expansion at Abbot Point on the Great Barrier Reef.

The decision follows a sustained campaign by environmental groups, which included an open letter to Lend Lease warning of the “reputational risk” of engaging with the project.

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Lend Lease had been shortlisted for a staged expansion of the coal port as part of the NorthHub consortium with rail freight operator Aurizon.

Chief executive Steve McCann today [Wednesday] said Lend Lease had decided not to go ahead with the bid due to “a whole series of reasons”, including economic considerations and the fact there were competing developments in the area.

A spokeswoman for Lend Lease said: “The NorthHub Consortium mandate has lapsed and Lend Lease is therefore no longer involved in the APX project at Abbot Point.”

The spokeswoman had previously told The Fifth Estate that prior to making any commitment to the APX project it would “undertake appropriate investment reviews having regard to the project and taking into account a range of social, environmental and economic factors”.

Australian Greens Senator Larissa Waters said the news showed the Abbot Point project was a white elephant.

“Companies are bailing on Abbot Point thick and fast,” Ms Waters said.

“Lend Lease is just the latest, with BHP and Rio Tinto also getting out recently.

“With the coal price dropping and China opting for renewable energy instead, coal ports and coal mines are becoming as toxic to investors as they are to the Reef itself.”

The news came as Lend Lease announced its half year results, with net profits falling 16.4 per cent to $251.6 million in the last half of 2013. The company blamed tough construction markets in Australia and the UK.