WITH four strokes of his pen, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has given approval to a suite of enormously expensive and controversial projects planned for Central Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.
It includes the go-ahead for a new coal-loading terminal worth $3 billion at the Port of Abbot Point in Central Queensland - known as Terminal 0 - to be built by Indian juggernaut Adani to service its sprawling Carmichael Coal mine in the Galilee Basin, about 500km south-west of the port.
In mid October, Adani's hometown rivals GVK Hancock secured its own approvals for Terminal 3, as part of GVK's own ambitions in the Galilee.
Mr Hunt also ticked off a dredging campaign to shift 3 million cubic metres of sand from the Port of Abbot Point area in preparation for two other new coal-loading terminals at the port.
This dredging effort is one-third the size of a previous campaign from the state-owned North Queensland Bulk Ports and does not include dredging in the Great Barrier Reef itself.
The dredge spoil will be moved offshore but is to remain at least 40km from the nearest reef.
Environmental groups including the Australian Marine Conservation Society and Australian Greens have been fiercely opposed to dredging near the reef.
A further two projects off Gladstone also earned the nod from the Environment Minister.
Mr Hunt approved two major projects from the Shell-owned Arrow Energy, allowing it to build a $15 billion dollar factory on Curtis Island to convert coal seam gas to liquefied natural gas.
The final approval allows Shell, through Arrow to connect that factory to the mainland via an 9.45km underwater pipeline.
Decisions on both the Arrow LNG facility and Abbot Point dredging operations were due earlier this year but were delayed until this week.
Mr Hunt said "some of the strictest conditions in Australian history" have been applied to the projects.
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