Small step shift to preserve dinosaur tracks

DESPITE previously reaching an agreement to move the Browse LNG hub at James Price Point in WA 900m south to avoid dinosaur tracks, there is still confusion about the fate of the footprints.
Federal Environment minister Bill Marmion recently told ABC Kimberley that a number of footprints at the site many not survive and “would absolutely have to go”.
However, WA Premier Colin Barnett said on ABC’s Q and A program that the plant was moved 900m south to keep the footprints safe.
“They stretch for 200 kilometres along that coastline,” Mr Barnett said.
“The beachfront, if you like, of this plant is 1 kilometre and it actually will be built around [the footprints] so it won’t even impact on those.”
A report by the WA Department of State Development stated that “detailed surveys of dinosaur tracks and other paleontological features over a widespread area, from north of James Price Point to Red Cliffs, south of Broome, show that tracksites are present in at least 54 separate locations”.
Nine sites were found within the proposed port vicinity and it was reported that they were in the northern 750m of the area. However, it was believed that tracks could be present for another 150m south.
After scientists spent 11 days surveying 58 sites and were concerned about not having enough time to carry out a proper examination, the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommended avoiding development in the northern 900m of the region.
According to University of Queensland palaeontologist Steven Salisbury, the EPA recommendation did not propose a suitable outcome.
“The current proposed location of the port facility and onshore processing plant that are ascertained with the LNG precinct at James Price Point are, as best as I can ascertain, pretty much identical to what they were prior to the EPA assessment process,” he said.
“The only real difference is that EPA recommended that the northern-most inshore jetty should be realigned slightly to avoid crossing the area where there is a lot of important dinosaur tracks.”
The Department of State Development’s report stated that “construction activities are not expected to damage fossils outside the precinct areas”.
However, once the facility has been built, there is the potential for erosion about 2km to 3km north and south of the harbour, which could affect beaches up to 7.5km south.
According to Mr Salisbury, “the overall impact on National Heritage-Listed dinosaur tracks along this stretch of coast remains the same; many will be lost”.
The Browse LNG project is a joint venture between Woodside, Shell, BHP Billiton and Mitsui-Mitsubishi.

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