Ports North gets extension to review Cairns Port expansion plan
The extension will allow Ports North to reassess channel improvement options and review target vessel sizes
The coordinator-general has allowed Ports North until June 30, 2017 to review its plans and re-submit an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Cairns Shipping Development Project.
Announcing the extension, Queensland minister Curtis Pitt says the extension "gives Ports North more time to develop a project that’s economically and environmentally sustainable for the expansion of Cairns Port."
"We can strike a balance that both protects the environment and supports economic development, jobs and future trade growth in the Far North," Pitt says.
The extension will allow Ports North to:
a) review the target vessel sizes and channel improvement options;
b) include latest survey and field information on revised channel designs;
c) conduct simulations to verify the size of cruise ships and access of reduced upgrade channels; and
d) conduct tidal window analysis to define limits on tidal constraints for each vessel size in the preferred channel widening alignment.
The project includes deepening of the approach channel to the Port to allow bigger ships to enter and berth at the Port of Cairns, and capital dredging of the swing basins in the Trinity Inlet.
One of the main challenges of the project is to prevent contaminating the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area during the expansion phase and ensure that the port-related capital dredged material is not disposed in the sea in the future.
Pitt says that the extension will give Ports North more time to re-examine the project and see that it develops "within the scope of the EIS process".
"This will ensure the Queensland Government can still meet its port-related commitments in the Reef 2050 Plan, now it’s up to Ports North to make the most of the opportunity to work up options that fit within these limits."