DINOSAUR PRINTS THREATENED BY GAS PLANT

Read below to see how world renowned scientists have raised the alarm about this grave threat to the world’s fossil record from our own Kimberley. from the Syndey Morning Herald, April 2, 2011 GAS PLANT FOOTPRINT RISKS TREADING ON ANCIENT TOES Ben Cubby THE world’s longest chain of dinosaur footprints would be broken by a new gas processing plant and port planned for the West Australian coast, scientists say. The fossilised footprints of 15 types of dinosaur, including diplodocus, brachiosaurus, muttaburrasaurus and several types of large carnivore stretch for 80 kilometres along the Kimberley coast around Broome. They were made when the dinosaurs strode across mudflats about 130 million years ago, but some of the footprints could be gone forever within a few years if the port goes ahead. ”There’s a number of prints here of dinosaurs for which we have no other record in Australia, and some of the sauropod prints are the largest anywhere in the world,” a University of Queensland palaeontologist, Steve Salisbury, said. ”But the significance of this site is its extent, in that it is continuous for a long distance round the coast … You can find one set of prints and follow it.” The West Australian government is pushing for the new port at James Price Point, which would be shared by Woodside Petroleum, Chevron, Shell, BHP and BP. It is negotiating to acquire the site even before the project has been approved by the federal government. The Premier, Colin Barnett, told the Herald the proposed port would affect only about two kilometres of the footprint trail, and the area contained few footprints. “There are better and more abundant examples of dinosaur footprints reported elsewhere on the Dampier Peninsula coast,” a spokeswoman for Mr Barnett said. “More surveys will be carried out before construction and we will ensure any heritage is protected.” The Premier has previously said that the government would pursue a policy of compulsory acquisition to take over the site, but emphasised this week that negotiations to use the land were still under way with local Aborigines. The Australian Conservation Foundation said port facilities needed to export large amounts of liquefied natural gas to China would be better located away from undeveloped areas. ”This part of the Kimberley is special and unspoiled – if we don’t work to protect it then we will lose it,” the foundation’s executive director, Don Henry, said. The federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, recently extended until June the consultation period for an assessment of the heritage values of the Kimberley. “This is a beautiful part of Australia and I want to ensure that any development does not destroy this unique environment,” he said. Dr Salisbury said he believed that building the port would inevitably harm the dinosaur trail. A submission to the state government, signed by 86 scientists, said building a jetty several kilometres long, construction of a gas pipeline and dredging channels for shipping would cause damage by increasing erosion and changing tidal patterns along the shore.