In a move that has surprised no one but outraged many, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority confirmed on the weekend that it would be going ahead with the Abbott Government’s previously axed plans to dump dredge spoil in the Reef. The World Heritage-protected area is already under serious pressure from climate change, coral bleaching and land-based pollution, and the expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Port only exacerbates this pressure, with millions of cubic metres of spoil to be dredged and dumped in order for the coal port to be constructed. Scientists and conservation groups have long lobbied the Authority to reject the expansion, citing evidence that sediment from dredging can poison and smother the fragile ecosystems of the reef. Greenpeace says the move will be an “international embarrassment”, akin to “dumping rubbish in the Grand Canyon”. Several cleaner options including land infill, retainer barriers and the use of longer jetties have been rejected, and the new port will require even more dredging over the next decade to keep up with demand. Both Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer are reportedly negotiating leases for Abbot Point, set to be one of the world’s largest ports. GetUp and other environmental groups have joined together to challenge the decision in court – click here to find out how you can help. (via ABC).