Gladstone at heart of ongoing Great Barrier Reef debate

GLADSTONE has been placed under the international microscope as the battle between industrial development and the environment heats up again.

This week the UNESCO World Heritage Committee postponed a decision on putting the reef on its "in danger" list.

Federal and State governments claim they have worked hard over the past year to address the concerns raised. But environmental groups say more needs to be done.

With the fifth largest multi-commodity port in Australia and the world's fourth-largest coal exporting terminal, all within the World Heritage Area of the Great Barrier Reef, we are at the heart of this ongoing debate.

As a region, how do we strike a balance between economic growth and environmental sustainability?

There is no doubt we should be protecting the reef, but coal and gas industries are also far too crucial to the Queensland economy to simply halt development.

Does it have to be a choice between environmental protection and development?