Abbot Pt, surrounded by wetlands and coral reefs, is set to become a coal port.

Abbot Point, surrounded by wetlands and coral reefs, is set to become a coal port.

Thousands of Australians have raised $130,000 for a conservation group to launch legal action over dredge spoil being dumped inside Great Barrier Reef Marine Park waters.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority last month gave a permit to the North Queensland Bulk Ports Authority to dump 3 million cubic metres of spoil dredged from the new Abbott Point port.

They have permission to dump the spoil inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, about 25 kilometres north-east of the port.

In Brisbane on Thursday, the North Queensland Conservation Council filed an appeal to the GBRMPA’s decision to grant the permit to dump the dredge spoil.

Their legal action is funded by a crowd-funding program by the environmental action group, GetUp.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,’’ GetUp campaign director Erin McCallum said.

‘‘Sixteen thousand people from all walks of life – fishermen, teachers, farmers and accountants – have donated to make this case happen,” she said.

NQCC spokesman Jeremy Tager said it lodged its case with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Queensland’s High Court.

‘‘We believe the dumping permit fails to meet these sea dumping laws,’’ he said.

Mr Tager said the Administrative Appeals Tribunal had the power to overturn the GBRMPA’s decision.

‘‘It’s a court of review and it’s a ‘merits review’ court, not a process review,’’ he said.

‘‘So they are allowed to make a decision on the evidence.’’

However GBRMPA chairman Russell Reichhelt said its decision to grant a permit is based on scientific evidence.

Dr Reichhelt said Abbot Point had been a deepwater port for 30 years.

He said it could cope with maintenance dredging better than other ports on the Queensland coastline.

“It’s important to note the seafloor of the approved disposal area consists of sand, silt and clay and does not contain coral reefs or seagrass beds,” he said.

GBRMPA must produce a statement of what it used as evidence for its decision for the Administrative Appeals Committee.

Dr Reichhelt said GBRMPA research showed there were no ‘‘identified contaminants’’ in the sediment that will be dredged and relocated from Abbot Point.

GBRMPA would also investigate alternative locations inside the Marine Park that were 20 to 30 kilometres from the approved dump site.

Mr Tager said dumping was unlikely in the immediate future because the rail connection also needs to be extended when the existing Abbot Point port is expanded.

“In theory they could begin dredging and dumping as soon as they’re are within that window which begins in March and goes I think until June or July,’’ he said.