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4 September 2008
Environment Minister, Peter Garrett has suspended approval of the Reef Cove Resort development at Queenslands False Cape and has ordered the developer to carry out an environmental audit of the site.
It is the first time a federal environment minister has suspended a projects approval or directed an environmental audit under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
"Following a preliminary investigation by my department, Ive decided to suspend approval of the False Cape project for a 12-month period because I am concerned about the threat of sediment run-off into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area," Mr Garrett said.
"This suspension means there can be no construction at the site until Im satisfied that the developer has completed the appropriate remediation work and can complete construction in a responsible manner and in full compliance with the approval conditions, without impacting on the marine environment.
"If I am not satisfied by the end of this suspension period that appropriate remediation measures have been implemented in accordance with the outcomes of the compliance audit I have the option under the EPBC Act of suspending the approval for a further period, or revoking it altogether.
"If revoked, any proposal for a new development at the site may need to undergo a new assessment process under the EPBC Act. This would be likely to require a new public assessment."
Mr Garrett said the directed environmental audit would provide important information that the Federal Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts could include in its ongoing investigation.
"In the meantime, my department will continue to work with the Cairns Regional Council to address the immediate concerns at the site and to make the site stable before the coming wet season."