Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
Great Barrier Reef (Australia) IBTimes/Felipe Bascunan

Australia’s fight to preserve the Great Barrier Reef has taken another turn after officials from the agency in charge in protecting the marine ecosystem pushed through coal and gas projects while holding interests in energy companies; projects that environmentalists say will damage Australia's natural wonder.

Australia’s ABC reported Wednesday that members of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority had taken a weaker position on new port developments near the reef that could have adverse affects for the largest reef system in the world.

One of the five board members owns shares in one of the companies involved in the project while a second board member is under investigation for working as a mining executive at Guildford Coal. The company has plans to operate about six coal mines near the reef.

The allegations of conflict of interest are just another contentous point between environmentalists and those who are interested in restoring business confidence.

Environmental groups fear dumping three million tons of dredged seabed to build the plants will harm the reef.

In May Greenpeace spokeswoman Louise Mathieson said the project lacked transparency.

"I don't think we're exaggerating it when it clearly has Queensland Government backing and I think they've been quite sneaky in progressing with the proposal without giving the project solid figures about how much dredging will be needed," Mathieson told ABC.

Australia’s environment minister, Greg Hunt, ordered an immediate inquiry into the Marine Park Authority over conflict of interests.