What about The Reef?

And environmental issues...

On most of the other pages on this site I’ve tried to skirt around environmental issues since I’ve been trying to concentrate on other areas.

That’s not to say that I’m unconcerned about the environment. Far from it. But, on the other hand if we’re busily preoccupied with ecological issues some of those other issues might sneak past without our noticing.

While we’re busily debating the Chalco refinery we might wake up one morning to find that there are some very ugly developments on the commercial front around town.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, if Chalco isn’t going to go ahead that’ll happen because of public concern over environmental issues. If it’s going to be defeated on those grounds the anti-Chalco side of the debate need to be presenting enough hard evidence against the proposal to convince everyone but Chalco’s most ardent supporters that it’s a bad idea.

That evidence needs to be presented citing “chapter and verse” sources, and any contradictory claims dismissed (again citing authoritative studies) if there’s going to be a serious groundswell of negative sentiment.

It’s not enough to suggest that, as I heard someone suggest on ABC local radio a while back, an apparent difference in the diversity of bird life around Bowen and Gladstone is directly related to the presence or absence of alumina processing facilities. That may be true, but there are a number of explanations, including the possibility that the person’s Bowen residence was located next door to a bird-friendly yard whereas the Gladstone address wasn’t.

But even if there is a surge in public opinion, it mightn’t be enough to produce an unfavourable verdict when it’s time for the Environmental Impact Study. 

As suggested elsewhere, the pulp mill in northern Tasmania managed to obtain ticks in most of the relevant boxes in the face of considerable public opposition and only looks like falling over because of the difficulty Gunns are having finding the capital to proceed.

A cynic could suggest that the pulp mill proposal made it through the EIS procedure because there was an electoral advantage involved and people at the top of the Howard government may have known that the project could be scuttled on financial grounds after the 2007 Federal election had delivered a couple of seats in northern Tasmania to the Coalition.

You can bet your bottom dollar that if Chalco gets past the EIS they’ll have plenty of money available to put it in place.

And if Chalco doesn’t go ahead, there will be other industrial development in the area that will.

So, what about the Reef?


 © Ian Hughes 2014