The revised Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Cairns Shipping Development Project has been released for public comment.
The Cairns Shipping Development Project involves widening and deepening the existing navigation channel to allow larger cruise ships to berth at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal.
The Project will enable one million cubic metres of capital dredge volume to be placed on land (reduced from the original four million cubic metres) at a cost of $120 million, and enable cruise ship growth for vessels up to 300m with a forecast demand of an additional 70 cruise ships (with homeporting and the Brisbane Cruise terminal) through the Port of Cairns each year by 2031.
Ports North Chairman, Russell Beer, said public consultation was the next major milestone for the project and he was proud of Ports North’s achievement in bringing this region-shaping opportunity a significant step closer to becoming a reality.
“The revised EIS delivers an important opportunity to generate more than $848.6 million in benefits to the region boosting tourism and the economy while generating job growth in the order of 800 new direct and indirect jobs during construction and over 2,730 upon completion,” Mr Beer said.
“The project builds upon the significant existing tourism infrastructure network in Cairns to facilitate increased tourism opportunities in Far North Queensland and supports the overall growth of the cruise ship sector in Queensland.
“As well as accommodating the larger cruise ships, the deeper and wider channel and relocation of the main swing basin will also enable future expansion of the HMAS Cairns Navy base, improve access and efficiency for bulk cargo and larger visiting Navy vessels, and improve wharf infrastructure while providing increased resilience for the Port of Cairns against extreme weather events.”
Mr Beer said the revised draft EIS comprised around 6,000 pages and provided a thorough scientific evaluation of social, economic and environmental impacts.
“The Ports North team and our expert consultants have done an outstanding job in preparing a comprehensive revised draft EIS. I am confident that it contains sufficient information for the Commonwealth and State governments to fully understand the project’s potential impacts in order to make decisions about the future of the project, with particular regard to the requirement for capital dredged material to be placed on land.”
Mr Beer said the 14 different land placement sites from Yarrabah to the Barron Valley had been considered. Detailed investigations were then carried out on sites in the Barron Delta and East Trinity.
The report identifies that the best environmental outcome would be achieved by placing stiff clay material on port land at Tingira Street, Portsmith and the soft clay material in the Barron Delta at the site of an existing sand extraction mine.
“Ports North is confident we have a workable solution for expansion of the Port of Cairns that protects the Great Barrier Reef and delivers this future opportunity to Cairns and the region,” Mr Beer said.
Advance Cairns Chairman, Trent Twomey, said, “Advance Cairns strongly supports the expansion of maritime facilities, and the CSDP has been a priority project we have advocated for this region.
“North Queensland relies on the Port of Cairns to support not only a significant tourism industry but also as our export and import link to the world.”
The full Revised Draft EIS, a project fact sheet and submission details are available online via the Ports North website at www.portsnorth.com.au.