THE federal government has approved the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Townsville Port Expansion Project.
The approval means preliminary works on the first stage of the project – the $193m channel widening project – could start before April this year, pending a resolution on final funding between state and federal governments.
Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said the $1.64bn, 30-year development plan would ensure the Port could expand, allowing it to become globally competitive.
“The EIS was a very rigorous environmental review and project assessment, so we are delighted to have now received the go-ahead for the project from both the Queensland Coordinator General and the Federal Government,” she said.
“Ships are getting bigger and the widening of the channel is absolutely critical to the future viability of the Port of Townsville.”
Ms Crosby said with the bigger ships comes lower shipping costs, better connectivity to global markets, and access for larger cruise ships.
“At the moment Townsville cannot accept ships longer than 238 metres in length, which by today’s global standards is completely inadequate,” she said.
“We are working closely with the Queensland and Federal Governments on final funding arrangements so we can get this project underway, creating local jobs, and continuing to work in close partnership with the local community to deliver best practice environmental outcomes.”
Port of Townsville is to fund $43m for the channel capacity upgrade and the Queensland government has pledged $75m.
Now, the state government is seeking a matched $75m contribution from the federal government for the project to proceed.
Queensland minister for transport Mark Bailey said he had written to his federal counterpart, confirming the state government’s call for funding.
“If the Turnbull Government wants to support jobs Townsville jobs and economic development, it needs to find the funds to support this critical project for the North Queensland economy,” he said.
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the project would provide a boost for the Townsville economy.
“Bigger ships are becoming more common and a wider channel into Townsville is vital for the future prosperity of our city,” he said.
“At the moment Townsville cannot accept ships longer than 238 metres in length, which by today’s global standards is inadequate.
“That’s why it’s so important that the Coalition Government partners with the Palaszczuk Government and helps fund this vital project.”
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 152-hectare reclamation area;
- construction of 4 kilometres of rock revetments and potentially a new 700-metre western breakwater and;
- construction of six new berths.