The Australian government has today thrown out proposals for new coal mines near the Great Barrier Beef. Under original proposals, a new mine was set to be built just 10km from the reef, but thanks to environmental laws, the Australian government has been able to block the plans.
In November, two UN-backed scientists recommended that the Great Barrier Reef be placed on the list of world heritage sites that are “in danger.” According to the WWF, the reef is highly vulnerable and has lost half of its coral cover over the past 30 years due to pollution and global warming.
As such, the notion of a coal mine being built just down the road was unfathomable. Tanya Plibersek, the nation’s Environment Minister, put to bed the issue in a video released on social media. She said:
“The mine is an open-cut coal mine less than 10km from the Great Barrier Reef, and the risk of pollution and irreversible damage to the reef is very real. I’ve decided that the adverse environmental impacts are simply too great.”
Pilbersek had recently opened up the coal mine issue to public consideration, and she added that her department had received around 9000 submissions in ten days, with the vast majority calling for the project to be blocked.
A Blow to Clive Palmer
Controversial billionaire, Clive Palmer, was the individual who had originally pushed forward the plans for the coal mine. The mine aimed to produce thermal and coking coal, but it was doomed from the word go.
As far back as last year, Plibersek was already briefing that the government could block the mine if they deemed the risks too high, while the Queensland State government were pushing for a rejection from the start.
It’s a positive step forward for Australia, a major supplier of fossil fuels. With a new government in place though, there is hope that they will be able to reduce their emissions drastically as they work towards their 2030 target of reducing their emissions from 2005 by 43%.
There has yet to be a comment from Clive Palmer, or his company Central Queensland Coal, as to whether they will try again with a similar project or can their plans altogether.
A Boost for Tourists
The news that the Great Barrier Reef will be protected against coal mines is fantastic from an environmental perspective and a tourism one. Around five million people each year visit the Great Barrier Reef, with approximately $6 billion annually generated for the Australian economy.
Historically, it has always been considered one of the most naturally beautiful areas in the world, so it’s easy to see why it is so popular with tourists worldwide. If you are planning a trip to the Great Barrier Reef now that you know it is being protected appropriately, here are three key tips consider:
- Different wildlife appears at different times of the year. If you are going to the Great Barrier Reef to see sea turtles, for example, you will want to visit between January and March. However, visit between May and September if you want to see Whales. Do your research before booking to avoid disappointment.
- The best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef is between June and October, regarding diving conditions and visibility.
- Be wary of irresponsible diving tours. When you arrive, you will be swarmed by various people promising you the world regarding reef tours. Take your time to consider which is the most reputable to avoid being conned.