BIGGER ships are a step closer to being able to call at Cairns after the Queensland Coordinator-General approved the environmental impact statement for a $120m upgrade project.
The plan would see dredging and widening of the inner and outer shipping channels, with dredged material disposed of on land.
Also, the plan calls for an upgrade of the existing cruise shipping wharves and partial demolition of wharf 6 to allow for an extension of wharf 5.
Ports North chairman Russell Beer said the project built on the existing infrastructure network at Cairns, facilitating increased tourism opportunities.
“The widening and deepening of the existing navigation channel to allow larger cruise ships to berth at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal will also enable future expansion of the HMAS Cairns Navy base, improve access and efficiency for bulk cargo and larger visiting Navy vessels while providing increased resilience for the Port of Cairns against extreme weather events”, he said.
Mr Beer said “this approach of engaging with cruise industry stakeholders has proved beneficial and provided benefits to the organisation by gaining greater knowledge of the industry, increasing industry contacts, and displaying Ports North’s commitment to develop cruise shipping in Cairns”.
“We now have some good news to share” he said.
Queensland minister for state development, infrastructure and planning Cameron Dick said the Coordinator-General had worked closely with Ports North and the Cairns Regional Council to ensure the project responded to the state government’s Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 and the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.
“In his evaluation report, the Coordinator-General evaluated all the possible environmental impacts and sets comprehensive conditions to manage potential impacts on Trinity Inlet within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and state marine park,” he said.
“They include managing marine water quality, plant clearing and activity in the state marine park.”
There are further approvals still being progressed, including Commonwealth Government environmental approval in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act and completion of a detailed business case in accordance with the Building Queensland Framework.