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Pages tagged "Dam"

Urannah Dam cancellation is a win for nature and the economy

Media Release

16 December 2022

Mackay Conservation Group is celebrating a major victory after yesterday's announcement that Urannah Dam had been withdrawn from the environmental assessment process.  

The cancelled dam would have drowned large parts of the nationally listed wetlands at Urannah and Massey Creeks.

If the dam had proceeded, significant habitat for the Irwin's Turtle would also have been destroyed, along with irreplaceable vegetation such as the threatened Black Ironbox. 

The Urannah Dam was first proposed in the 1950s but it has never been shown to make economic sense despite many feasibility studies. The recent Detailed Business Case produced by Bowen River Utilities showed that the dam would have been a loss-making project. 

The dam's proponents planned to sell a large part of its water to the coal mining industry in Central Queensland. In 2012 the Connors River dam was cancelled due to a lack of interest in the water from coal companies.

The dam would have also enabled the opening up of new agricultural land upstream from the Great Barrier Reef.

The recent UN World Heritage monitoring mission to the Great Barrier Reef singled out the dam for criticism. The report's authors said the dam would have significant negative effects on reef water quality and called the project "preposterous".

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Peter McCallum, said that the group welcomed the decision to cancel the project. 

"This dam never made sense from an environmental, economic or cultural perspective," Mr McCallum said.

"The dam's negative economic return would most probably have led to its owners abandoning it in future, leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill."

"Even worse, we would have lost the best examples of pre-European river systems in Central Queensland."

"The Irwin's Turtle, discovered by Steve and Bob Irwin in 1990, would have been pushed towards extinction. The dam would have also reduced the habitat of many other threatened species."

"Throughout the campaign to protect Urannah, Mackay Conservation Group has been strongly encouraged by the knowledge that the traditional owners, the Widi and Birrah peoples, were steadfastly opposed to the dam. We knew we were on the right side of history."

"The former federal governments, led by Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison handed out tens of millions in taxpayers funds to facilitate their Urannah Dam fantasy. Now all that money has gone down the drain. The only beneficiaries are the people who were paid to produce the plans for a dam that made no sense."

"Our next step will be to ensure no future government ever proposes to dam Urannah and Massey Creeks ever again. That will require a lot more work but we are up for the challenge."


Contact Peter McCallum 0402966560

Photos of Urannah Creek can be found at Please acknowledge the photographer, Jeff Tan.

MCG Slams Landry on Urannah

In an opinion piece in CQToday, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said that the privately owned Urannah Dam west of Mackay “is ready to go”. That statement is not supported by the facts. 

The current proposal to build a dam on the Broken River downstream from Urannah Creek has not been approved by the federal or Queensland governments. 

In fact, according to the Queensland Coordinator General’s website, the private company proposing Urannah Dam is still preparing a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). 

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Pioneer-Burdekin Hydro Electric Scheme Update

MCG has long campaigned for more renewable energy in Queensland. We welcome the phase out of coal fired power by 2035 but there are concerns about the mega dams that will facilitate the plan. 

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Splashing money around for a dam

man holding a jar of cash I wonder whether there are people reading this who have business ideas that they aren’t sure will return a profit. You’re not alone. However, some businesses seem to find it easy to get a helping hand from government to do the work that should be their own responsibility.

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Urannah Dam economic analysis

Download a copy of the report "An Economic Analysis Of The Urannah Dam Project" here: 

Urannah Dam economic analysis


Urannah Dam is for mining not agriculture

Irwin_Turtle_2.jpgUrannah Dam has been in the news a lot over the past year. Politicians have been talking up the proposal as a potential source of new water for agricultural land around Bowen. However, there are serious questions about whether farmers will ever see a drop of any water from this dam.

The Urannah Creek west of Eungella range is a beautiful place that has considerable environmental values. Its water flows into the Broken River and then into the Burdekin.It is home to the Irwin’s Turtle a unique species that was discovered in 1990 by Steve Irwin’s father Bob. 

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Urannah Campaign Update


Mackay Conservation Group’s former coordinator, Ian Sutton, undertook a biological assessment of the Urannah Creek west of Mackay in 2004. He found a hidden valley in almost pristine condition. Ian described a valley without weeds that provided habitat in the form of Bluegum forest and endangered Black Ironbox, with stands on Ironbark on its slopes.

Urannah Creek is the most permanent river in the Burdekin system and supports healthy fish and turtle populations.

Although Urannah is close to several population centres, the topography and the lack of good road access makes it a very remote place. During the dry season four wheel drive vehicles are necessary to access the creek. In wet season the area virtually impassable. The valley is walled in by the ranges on all sides, except for a gap near Mt Cauley where the Broken River exits on its journey westward.

These physical barriers and the joint boundary with Eungella National Park to the south east, plus the lack of any past ‘pasture improvements’ render the area an isolated ‘island’ of virtually pristine natural heritage. Ian described the valley as a secure, almost unique example of pre-European landscape of the area. Those values haven’t changed since 2004. This unique and important area west of the Eungella rainforest is once again under threat, with plans of a massive dam, industrial scale irrigated agriculture and a questionable hydroelectric scheme.

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Media Release : Rivers fundraiser exceeds expectations

2 March 2020

The threat to wildlife posed by the proposed Urannah Dam has inspired community members to donate more than $20,000 to Mackay Conservation Group over the past six weeks.

Late last year the group began planning a fundraising swim-a-thon, hoping to raise $10,000 for a campaign to highlight the impact Urannah Dam would have on the Irwin's Turtle.

The Swim For Our Rivers fundraiser attracted a lot of community support and more than doubled expectations.

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Peter McCallum, said "donors contributed amounts from $5 to several thousand dollars.

"We were stunned when one person approached us to say that they would match any donation we received in the last week of the campaign, up to $10,000. It was such a pleasant surprise.

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The insanity of damming Urannah Creek

It is said that ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We have been told that the next big thing for our region is yet another feasibility study for the Urannah dam. That study will be the 19th attempt since 1967 to shuffle the cards and come up with a winning economic hand.

What is even more irrational is that the Federal Government paid $3 million of taxpayers’ money to have those cards reshuffled. Of course there’s a chance that this time the economic analysis may say something different to the previous 18 attempts. Maybe there’s a way to sell the water from Urannah dam to someone who’s willing to pay enough to recoup the dam’s construction and running costs. The only industry that can do that is mining.

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