Townsville Port expansion gains major approval

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A key approval has been granted for Townsville Port’s $1.64 billion expansion – Mark Bailey, Minister for Ports; Coralee O’Rourke, Minister assisting the Premier on North Queensland; and Scott Stewart, local MP, visited the Port of Townsville after the independent Coordinator-General handed down his project evaluation report recently.

State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Coordinator-General approved the port expansion, with conditions that addressed all concerns over environmental and social impacts.

“The Coordinator-General has been working closely with the Port of Townsville to ensure all potential social and environmental impacts were addressed in the evaluation report, and comprehensive conditions set to manage potential impacts on Cleveland Bay in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area,” said Lynham.

Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government had already committed $75 million in the 2017–18 budget for a channel upgrade that forms part of the first stage of the port’s expansion over the next four years, subject to approvals.

“What we need now is a matching commitment from the Turnbull Government,” Bailey added.

“The channel-widening work will attract future growth in trade and investment, supporting more jobs and lowering freight costs for North Queensland.

Stewart said the Port was a critical trade supply chain handling around 10 million tonnes of produce worth over $10 billion each year and being able to accommodate larger ships at the Port of Townsville would mean the region can continue to attract major investment.

“Deeper and wider channels will accommodate ships up to 300m long and 40m wide, ensuring future growth in trade and expanding an essential trade pathway,” Stewart said.

Member for Thuringowa, Aaron Harper, said he looked forward to seeing the economic flow on effect throughout North Queensland thanks to the expansion.

“The expanded capacity at the port work will attract future growth in trade and investment supporting more jobs and lowering freight costs for North Queensland,” Harper said.

The Townsville Port Expansion Project involves four key elements:

  • capital dredging of 11.48 million cubic metres of sediment to widen and deepen the Sea and Platypus Channels and an expanded harbour basin;
  • establishing a 152ha reclamation area;
  • construction of 4km of rock revetments and potentially a new 700-metre western breakwater; and
  • construction of six new berths.

The next stage is the Commonwealth Government’s assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999, including any potential impacts to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.