Federal environment minister Peter Garrett.
Federal environment minister Peter Garrett.

Traveston decision to be on time

A FINAL decision on the future of the Traveston Crossing Dam may be known as soon as next month, with federal environment minister Peter Garrett all but ruling out stopping the clock on his decision‑marking process.

 Mr Garrett has 30 working days to determine whether the $1.8 billion Queensland government project would impact on plants and fauna of national significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

 “We’ll look very closely at the final report of the coordinator general,’’ Mr Garrett said from Uluru yesterday. “I don’t anticipate that there’ll be a need to stop the clock.’’

Mr Garrett can stop the process if he requires further information, but has already commissioned three independent reports into various matters. All of those reports were critical of the project’s impacts.

 Mr Garrett’s department has also liaised closely with Queensland coordinator general Colin Jensen in advance of the leading bureaucrat’s heavily conditioned approval of the project.

 Yesterday dam protesters demanded premier Anna Bligh stop wasting money on the project, after she acknowledged that it would not go ahead unless a functioning fishway for the endangered lungfish could be developed.

 Lungfish are “living fossils” that predate dinosaurs.

 Save the Mary River Coordinating Group secretary David Kreutz said Ms Bligh’s statement was an admission the Traveston dam was not essential for south‑east Queensland’s water security.

 “The Paradise court case has clearly shown that fishways that allow lungfish passage are the stuff of dreams,’’ Mr Kreutz said. “How many more years of research will be done before they admit they are flogging a dead horse?

 “The Queensland government has no fishway concept designs, no prototypes, no trials, nothing!”

 Wide Bay Conservation Council spokesman Roger Currie said that after being touted as the blueprint for the Traveston dam, the Paradise fishway had disappeared from all documents like a bad dream.
 “While the premier dreams of lungfish ladders, the bills keep mounting on this unviable Traveston proposal,” he said.

 “It is all time and money that should be used install reliable and non‑rainfall dependent alternatives rather than an extraordinarily expensive and inefficient dam that would be empty in a drought.”

 Mr Jensen has imposed 1200 conditions on the construction of the 750‑metre wide, 53‑metre high dam as well as strongly recommending that the Queensland government not proceed to stage two of the project.

Decisions by Mr Garrett relating to EPBC Act matters have in the past generally taken between four and 10 working days, with an average of six according to conservationists fighting the dam project.

Mr Garrett acknowledged he was yet to see the Queensland government submission despite the decision clock having been activated.

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