Agnes Water desal plant closer

WITH construction on the $41.5  million Agnes Water desalination plant set to begin at the end of the month, protester Maggie Behal had one piece of advice for those wanting to oppose the new desalination plants proposed by the state government.

“Just fight, fight, fight. Just like the Mary River people did and you may be lucky,” Mrs Behal said.

Her comments came after federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett rejected plans to dam Mary River, prompting Premier Anna Bligh to announce the need for four new desalination plants to be built in coming decades to provide water to south-east Queensland’s growing population. Member for Burnett Rob Messenger said while desalination plants might be good for some areas, it was not the case for Agnes Water.

“It is a case of desal plants are good in some areas,” he said.

“You can’t make a blanket statement that all desal plants are bad.”

Mr Messenger said there was a number of reasons the plant was not right for the Bundaberg region.

“There is plenty of water there already. There is plenty of underground water,” he said.

Mr Messenger again brought the topic up in parliament, tabling a question on notice that referred to estimates that 1% of all loggerhead turtles that nested in Queensland did so at the site slated for the project.

“The desal plant is on the closest point to the Great Barrier Reef so there is extra consideration that should be taken there,” he said.

A spokesperson for Gladstone Regional Council said the project was close to going ahead.

“We are still awaiting the final two permits and we hope to start construction at the end of the month,” they said.

Since the project was first approved about 18 months ago, a number of changes to the design of the plant have been made, meaning the council had to apply for new environmental permits.

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