PEOPLE concerned about local coastal and marine environment are outraged at the announcement of the massive expansion of military facilities at Shoalwater Bay.
"Shoalwater Bay is barely into its first year of the decades needed for environmental recovery following the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Marcia in 2015," Capricorn Conservation Council coordinator Michael McCabe said.
"Shoalwater includes the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area coastline and internationally recognised wetlands (Ramsar) and represents one of the last remaining large areas of the Queensland Coast with intact natural systems."
"The 1994 Commonwealth Commission determined that the area should be managed for defence and conservation 'dual use' and the Department of Defence State of the Environment Report (2008) detailed the natural values, threats and management regime required to maintain Shoalwater."
"That report noted the national significance of Shoalwater due to its relatively undisturbed habitats which supports threatened or endangered flora and fauna and stressed the need to maintain the balance between military use and conservation."
"Shoalwater Bay is already under constant pressure from the rapid succession of military exercises leaving precious little for fire, feral animal, invasive weed, wetland and water quality assessment and protected species management."
"More than doubling the 'boots on the ground' and adding several months of exercises from February when Shoalwater's soils, creeks and coastline are in recovery from Summer storms (or a hot dry spell we are currently experiencing) will eliminate the capacity for environmental teams to effectively assess and remediate the areas impacted."
"CCC will be writing to the Minister for Defence demanding more details of the proposal, particularly asking what increase there will be in the environmental management budget which is already struggles to keep Shoalwater's 'dual use' values intact."
"We will also be contacting GBRMPA, Federal and Queensland Departments of Environment seeking answers about the increased budgets and activities planned to ensure Shoalwater retains its world class environmental status."
"We urge people to similarly demand more information about the nature of and timeframes for the proposed activities. A full assessment is required of the environmental, social and economic plusses and minuses, including such matters as increased road and air military traffic, restrictions to coastal waters, additional costs to local government ratepayers for infrastructure and maintenance."