FEDERAL Environment Minister Peter Garrett has rejected the proposed Traveston Crossing Dam project near Gympie, claiming the impact on threatened species would be "too great".

The minister held a media conference in Brisbane today at 12.45pm to announce his decision (click on Peter Garrett's image, right, to play a video or read the transcript of his announcement).

"After carefully considering all of the information put before me and advice from my department, it is very clear to me that the Traveston Crossing Dam project can not go ahead without unacceptable impacts on matters of national environmental significant," he said at the conference.

"I have based my proposed decision on the science presented to me, and the science shows that this project would have serious and irreversible effects on nationally listed species such as the Australian lungfish, the Mary River turtle and the Mary River cod.

“The area that would be flooded by this proposal is critical habitat for populations of these species. The evidence before me showed that flooding this habitat would have serious consequences for those species, including on their ability to breed and maintain population numbers.

“My department advised that the environmental impacts of this project would be so serious they would contribute to the further decline of these threatened species.

“As Environment Minister, my responsibility is to ensure that nationally listed species are protected, and I believe no conditions or mitigation measures that would adequately guarantee their protection could be imposed on this project.

"Several of the measures put forward in the proposal lacked scientific evidence as to their effectiveness.

“The assessment of this proposal has highlighted the serious plight of these species, and I believe that it is critical that all levels of government work together to tackle the threats to these species and secure their future.

“In making this proposed decision, I have also considered the social and economic impacts of this project. An independent expert review conducted by the Centre for International Economics creates serious doubt about the economic benefits of the dam.

“The likely economic and social benefits of this proposal do not outweigh the serious environmental impacts on our nationally protected species." 

The minister's announcement triggers a 10-day window where other relevant ministers and the Queensland government can comment to support their views on the project. He will then make a final determination on the dam.

Mary River dam protesters earlier today were 'very confident' the $2 billion project would be scrapped.

Glenda Pickersgill, president of the Save the Mary River Coordinating Group, told sunshinecoastdaily.com.au that if Garrett made a decision on 'science' it would be a resounding no.

Save the Mary organisers were late yesterday using an email chain and SMS to gather a huge crowd to either celebrate victory in the campaign or to begin organising future resistance depending on the outcome of Garrett's announcement.

Kandanga residents gathered at the No Dam Info Centre to eagerly await the announcement and are planning a public meeting at Kandanga Hall tonight at 7pm to discuss the outcome.

Greater Mary Association spokesman David Kreutz said the past two weeks had been indicative of the entire conduct of the saga.

“It has been playing water torture with the community,” he said.

Gympie Uniting Church minister, the Reverend Iain Watt, said the community had felt powerless in the face of the government’s determination to push the dam through.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbot was doubtful that Mr Garrett would give the project the green light prior to the announcement.

"It's been one of the great fights of any community I ever seen. I don't believe that the federal minister has any choice environmentally other than to refuse the dam," Mr Abbot told ABC Radio earlier today.

While premier Anna Bligh, who has called for a community cabinet meeting after the decision, has played the politics of water cost and desalination plant locations if the dam was rejected by Mr Garrett, those primarily affected by any decision have felt like pawns in a game over which they have no control.

Counsellors who worked with the community since the dam proposal was announced in 2006 said they are dealing with people whose marriages have broken down, whose health has deteriorated and whose children have been affected.

Not only are people faced with losing their homes, but to a large extent they have already lost the community in which they live. Neighbours have sold up and moved away, no longer able to handle the stress and uncertainty.


'Put dam money to Coast hospital'

Marcoola desalination plant looms

Do you agree with Peter Garrett's decision? Do you think the money should go towards a new Coast hospital? Tell us what you think. Leave your comments below...

Read more:

Protesters 'confident' on dam

Betting on a dam good decision

Bligh urged to face music on dam

Judge rules out lungfish report

Decision time for dam arrives

Read more about Traveston dam.

Download Save the Mary's Traveston dam report (3.4MB).

Proposed dam area:

Map of the Mary River Catchment Locality.

External Links:

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts homepage
Peter Garrett's official minister page
Queensland Government Traveston Dam project page
Save The Mary River homepage
Queensland Conservation homepage
Greater Mary Association link

Results of past online polls:

Are you opposed to the Traveston Crossing dam?

  • Yes - 85%
  • No- 14%

Should a dam be built at Traveston Crossing?

  • Yes - 17%
  • No - 83%

Would the Traveston Dam benefit the community?

  • Yes, it would help struggling farmers - 21%
  • No, it would ruin the environment - 61%
  • It would help some people but not many - 16%

Do you think the Traveston Crossing dam should go ahead if all 1200 conditions of the report are adhered to?

  • Yes - 42%
  • No - 55%
  • I am undecided - 0%
  • I need more information - 2%

Do you think environmental grounds will be the deciding factor for the outcome of the controversial Traveston Dam?

  • Yes - 30%
  • I'm not sure, but I hope so - 22%
  • No - 2%
  • No, it will come down to politics and money - 46%
  • I have no idea - 2%

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