by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) May 24, 2014
Environmentalists on Saturday welcomed Deutsche Bank's reluctance to invest in a major port expansion near Australia's Great Barrier Reef, saying it reflected global concern about the project.
Australia gave the green light to the major coal port expansion for India's Adani Group at Abbot Point on the Great Barrier Reef coast last year subject to strict environmental conditions.
But conservationists slammed the approval, warning it would hasten the natural wonder's demise given it is under pressure from climate change, land-based pollution and crown-of-thorn starfish outbreaks.
At its annual general meeting in Europe on Friday, Deutsche Bank said its policy for dealing with activities in or near World Heritage Sites ruled it out of investing in Abbot Point.
"Deutsche Bank does not support activities when the government and UNESCO do not agree that the planned activities do not place the exceptional universal value of the site at risk," the bank said.
"As we have seen, there is currently no consensus between UNESCO and the Australian government regarding the expansion of Abbot Point in the vicinity of the Great Barrier Reef.
"Our policy requires such a consensus at the least. We therefore would not consider applications for the financing of an expansion any further."
UNESCO has stated concerns about coastal development proposed in the region including port and coal operations, with the body expected to discuss the issue at a meeting in June.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society, which is campaigning against the port expansion, welcomed Deutsche Bank's stance, which it said showed global concern about plans to "industrialise the coastline of the Great Barrier Reef".
"Financiers are now dropping off Abbot Point like flies -- signalling a growing unwillingness to be associated with the enormous financial and reputational risks that this project carries," said the society's Felicity Wishart.
"I mean, would you want your brand attached to the demise of one of the world's most precious natural icons -- The Great Barrier Reef?"
Approved plans for the Abbot Point expansion allow for the dredging and dumping of millions of tonnes of seabed in the reef's waters under strict environmental conditions.
Australia's Environment Minister Greg Hunt has said that getting the management and protection of the reef right was a top priority for the government.
Abbot Point port is considered crucial to the development of coal mines in Queensland's Galilee Basin, delivering one of the country's most important exports to Asian markets.
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|