Western Australian Environment Minster Bill Marmion this week accepted the 200 odd appeal recommendations for the proposed gas hub, and it was widely reported that he ‘strengthened’ the Environmental Protection Agency’s conditions. This was not the case for the national heritage dinosaur footprints. He stated that the trackways (no matter how significant) that lie in the way of the proposed port precinct will “absolutely have to go”.
“Clearly – none of these decisions are based on science – this is a political process.” Dr. Steve Sailsbury
As an Environment Minister, you’d expect strong, science-based evidence to you base your decisions on when assessing the largest and most complex industrial project in Western Australia’s history.
However, the University of Queensland’s palaeontologist Steve Salisbury, stated that the two week dinosaur trackway survey that was used as evidence for the EPA to make their recommendations was too rushed and was lacking in rigour, a statement that the authors of the study agreed with. Dr. Salisbury has been working on scientifically describing the trackways for over a year, and hasn’t yet released the bulk of his findings which could include several new species of prints and the largest dinosaur footprint ever found.
So why the rush and how did the Environment Minister strengthen the conditions that were recommended by the EPA to protect the trackways?
The Premier of WA, Colin Barnett (who is also the Minister for state development – the proponent for this project) has been rushing through the project for his own political benefit. Thus his ministers including the WA Environment Minister Bill Marmion are following suit. The evidence lies in the fact the ‘stronger’ conditions he slapped on the project were to ensure tourists don’t damage prints found either side of the proposed gas hub. He concluded however, that the trackways which cover 1.5km of coastline where the LNG port is planned, will “absolutely have to go”. This is in direct contradiction of Premier Barnett's statement in an ABC 720 radio interview on Sep 14, where he said, " the site - the plant will be positioned back off the coast so it’s not right on the beach, and it will be positioned not to impinge on any heritage site."
Dr. Steve Sailsbury commented that he doesn’t think there will even be a possibility for tourists to reach these trackways, if the project goes ahead, as they will most-likely be covered by banks of sand that will accumulate due to the huge port breakwaters which will change the coastal morphology of the region.
Listen to the ABC radio interview on this subject click here.
For more background information on the EPA's decision, view this PDF.
Email WA Environment Minister Bill Marmion and ask him - why will the ancient heritage listed dinosaur trackways at James Price Point have to go, as cheaper and viable alternatives exist to process the Browse gas?