There are no outstanding environmental issues blocking construction of the proposed Connors River Dam, Queensland Senator Matt Canavan said today.
"In particular, the issue of the proposed dam's potential effect on fresh water turtles has been thoroughly covered in government environmental impact assessments," Senator Canavan said.
"The Connors River Dam has the required environmental approvals at state and federal level and is ready to be built as soon as possible."
He was responding to a claim reported in The Courier-Mail today that the proposed dam would threaten the habitat of the white-throated snapping turtle.
"The Connors River Dam has been through an extensive environmental approval process at both the Federal and State Government level. These environmental approvals were made in 2012 by former Labor Governments," Senator Canavan said.
"The article quotes a researcher as saying consideration had to be given to turtles when dams were proposed. Well, in fact, turtles have been given very extensive consideration in the Connors proposal.
"The State and Federal Government reports on the dam discussed the Fitrzoy River turtle and the white-throated snapping turtle in great detail. Indeed, the word 'turtle' is used 368 times in the Queensland Coordinator-General's report alone.
"As a result of this analysis, a number of conditions were placed on the project to protect native turtles. In granting approval, the Queensland Coordinator General placed conditions on the project that include funding for more detailed monitoring and reporting of turtle populations, the installation of fishways on the dam for use by turtles, restoration and protection of more than 16,000 hectares of turtle habitat along the waterway, and a conservation plan to ensure the survival and natural development of freshwater turtles."
Senator Canavan said the Environmental Impact Statement for the dam was developed over a number of years and included extensive analysis and public consultation.
"The proposed Connors Dam and pipeline will supply over 373,000 megalitres to the Bowen Basin region, providing water to areas with scarce existing water resources, including local towns and coal mines and agricultural irrigation and feedlots.
“The project will help underwrite mining projects in the Bowen and Galilee Basins and help create jobs in mining, farming and related industries in the heart of coal country that has been hit hard by job losses in recent months.
"This dam project will create jobs and maintain local communities, and allow people to build a better life for themselves and their families. That can be done while simultaneously protecting wildlife like turtles. The environmental umpire's decision is in. It's time to accept that fact and get on with the project."
Note: A summary of environmental issues in regard to turtles can be found in the Queensland Co-ordinator-General's summary report (pages 4-5) at: http://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/resources/project/connors-river-dam-pipelines/connors-report-summary.pdf