Port of Townsville expansion
April 2016: On 29 April 2016, the Federal Department of the Environment approved a variation request from the Port of Townsville under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The application no longer involves dredging or dredge material disposal in the Marine Park. Since the varied proposal does not include activities within the Marine Park, permission from GBRMPA is no longer required. The agency has now ceased assessing the original proposal.
About the proposal
Port of Townsville Limited proposes to expand the Port of Townsville in Cleveland Bay, Queensland. The proposal is a staged development expected to take approximately 20 years to complete.
The main components of the proposed development include:
- Construction of a new outer harbour formed by the construction of a new breakwater approximately one kilometre seaward of the existing northern breakwater and deepening of the harbour area
- Potential construction of a new western breakwater
- Construction of up to six additional vessel berths in the new harbour
- Deepening of the existing approach channels
- Widening of the approach channel near the outer harbour entrance
- Creation of approximately 100 hectares of reclaimed land backing the new berths to provide for bulk cargo storage and rail loop, all formed from material reclaimed from the harbour deepening. This will include external and internal bunds to facilitate land reclamation
- Placement of unsuitable and excess dredge materials at sea in the existing dredge material placement area in Cleveland Bay
- Installation of new navigation aids
- Construction of new road and rail infrastructure within the project footprint and connection to the Eastern Access Corridor currently under construction
- Installation of new service utilities infrastructure
- Ten million cubic metres of dredging: five million cubic metres is proposed for offshore disposal and five million cubic metres is proposed for disposal in the reclamation.
About the area
The Port of Townsville is located in Cleveland Bay, approximately 3km east of the city centre of Townsville. The Port is situated within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and is in close proximity to a number of sensitive environments including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Bowling Green Bay RAMSAR site, Dugong Protected Areas, seagrass beds, fringing coral reefs and mangrove forests.
The application requirements
The proposed Port of Townsville Port expansion Project was determined to be a controlled action by SEWPAC under the EPBC Act in July 2011 as it was recognised that the project could have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance.
On 23 May 2011, the Coordinator-General declared the project to be a ‘significant project’ under section 26(1)(a) of the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (Qld) which requires the proponent to prepare an EIS for the project.
Application for a Marine Parks Permission
The proposed action will require a permit under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975, as components of the development are proposed to be located in the Marine Park. Therefore, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) will assess the application, in accordance with the following legislation:
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003
The GBRMPA will also provide advice to SEWPAC on matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act.
Environmental impact statement assessment process
The Port of Townsville Limited is required to prepare an EIS which describes the potential impact that the project could have on the environment.
The period for public comment on the draft environmental impact statement has closed. Public comments are being incorporated during the process to finalise the EIS.
Any activity that may impact the Marine Park, will be assessed by the GBRMPA.
Consideration of the application will be in accordance with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983, noting:
- Mandatory considerations (Regulation 88Q): which includes amongst others the impact of the proposed action on the environment, social, cultural and heritage values of the Marine Park, written comments received about the application in response to the public advertisement, and other matters relevant to the orderly and proper management of the Marine Park.
- Discretionary considerations (Regulation 88R): which includes the impact the proposed action will have on the public appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of the Marine Park, the cumulative impacts (if any) of the proposed action.
The GBRMPA will consider the impacts of the proposal on all aspects of the marine park, including matters raised in public submissions.
The proposal will be assessed in accordance with the GBRMPA policies and management approaches including:
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