The LNP’s New Bradfield pipe-dream is a nightmare for the environment

With the state election fast approaching, the Queensland Conservation Council has taken a closer look at the New Bradfield Scheme proposed by the Liberal-National Party, and labelled it a nightmare for Queensland’s environment.

“It's hard to overstate the scale of the environmental damage this project could cause to the region’s rivers, the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics and the Queensland Outback” says QCC’s Campaign Manager, Dave Copeman. “In recent announcements, the LNP’s language in campaign materials has changed from a $20m CSIRO feasibility study to promising to deliver the dam”.

The 120m dam wall will flood approx. 3000km2 of land, which includes essential habitat for multiple threatened species, productive agricultural land and Indigenous cultural values.

Diverting huge volumes of water from the Tully, Herbert and South Johnstone rivers will damage freshwater ecosystems in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

The consequences of adding thousands of hectares of new irrigated cropping land in the Upper Burdekin will be felt all the way downstream to the Reef, since fertilisers and pesticides used on crops will be washed into waterways and end up on the Reef. 

The regions in western Queensland that the water will be piped to will also suffer severe environmental impacts. 

Ephemeral outback rivers will become permanent flowing, completely changing their ecology and threatening the unique wetlands, birds and animals that are specially adapted to the boom-bust cycle of the outback.

Establishing 80,000 square kilometres of new irrigated agricultural land in the west will involve large-scale vegetation clearing. 

Irrigating the naturally dry landscape of western Queensland will cause water tables to rise, increasing the risk of salinity - which has been a massive problem in the Murray Darling Basin and other parts of Queensland.

On top of all this, the true financial cost of the scheme is likely to be far higher than the $15 billion estimated by the LNP. For example, based on tunnelling industry estimates of $90m/km, the cost of the 230km tunnel from the dam to Hughenden is in the order of $20 billion alone.