A $1.64 billion expansion for the Port of Townsville has received a key approval, progressing the project to the next stage of environmental approvals.

Minister for State Development, 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,” Dr Lynham said.

“Today’s announcement means the project is a step closer, which in turn means expanded capacity at the port, which will allow the one-quarter of cruise ships which cannot currently enter the port to berth at Townsville, increasing tourism numbers and revenue for the region.”

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 four kilometers of rock revetments and potentially a new 700m western breakwater
  • Construction of six new berths

Mr Bailey said the Queensland Government had already committed $75 million in the 2017-18 budget for a channel upgrade which 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,” Mr Bailey said.

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

“The project was revised to be consistent with our Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan commitments, and no capital dredge material will be permitted to be placed at sea – instead material will be used to develop a 152 hectare reclamation area at the port.”

Minister assisting the Premier on North Queensland, Coralee O’Rourke, said this was great news for Townsville, as expansion of the port could support up to 350 direct local jobs.

“This game-changing project will generate more than 170 construction jobs and 180 operational jobs, and make Townsville an even more attractive destination for new businesses and industry looking to expand and invest in North Queensland,” Mrs O’Rourke said.

“That’s why the Queensland Government is progressing this project, committing up to $75 million and working through a comprehensive environmental approval process.”

Local MP, Scott 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,” Mr Stewart said.

“The project also supports Australia’s strategic defence capability by improving navigational safety for vessel transit in the channels.”

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.

The widening of the channel is a key initiative under the Townsville City Deal between the Queensland and Australian governments, and Townsville City Council.

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