The $1.64 million expansion of the Port of Townsville in northeastern Queensland has moved forward with further opportunity for comment on its environmental impact statement on the Great Barrier Reef.

The independent Coordinator-General has released additional information to the project’s environmental impact statement, which will remain open for comment until November 2016.

Key issues for the Coordinator-General’s assessment include:

  • Marine water quality impacts arising from dredging activities
  • Management of construction activities, especially potential impacts on marine mammals, turtles and fish
  • Road impacts  during each phase of construction.

Queensland Minister for State Development, Dr Anthony Lynham, said while the expansion was vital, it needed to proceed at no cost to the Great Barrier Reef.

“This $1.64 billion proposal includes deepening and widening the existing shipping lanes, construction of an outer northern harbour of the existing port, six new ship berths and a new western breakwater,” Dr Lynham said.

“It also includes the capital dredging of 11.4 million cubic metres of sediment to be re-used to create 152 hectares of reclaimed land for the port. None of the capital dredging material is to be dumped at sea.           

“This project could create 174 direct jobs at the peak of construction plus 180 operational jobs, with port annual throughput set to climb from its current 9.8 million tonnes to 48 million tonnes by 2040.”

Dr Lynham said the Queensland Government supports the sustainable growth of the state declared priority ports as long as the growth is environmentally responsible.

Queensland Minister for Ports, Mark Bailey, said the Port of Townsville was a state priority port and that the project now incorporated on-land beneficial re-use of all capital dredge material.

“Consistent with our Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan commitments and provisions of our legislation, no capital dredge material will be permitted to be placed at sea,” Mr Bailey said.

“Townsville is the trade and logistics hub for northern Australia.  Demand forecasts show the region will grow strongly over the next 30 years.”

“This project is about making that possible: there cannot be growth without a port capable of moving the goods and freight.

“We are committed to protecting the environment while building a strong diverse economy to create more jobs for Queenslanders and this project seeks to deliver on both those objectives.”

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