PLANS to install a ship lift at Darwin have reached a key milestone. The Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority has released the draft environmental impact statement for the project.

The draft EIS includes technical studies that found low risk impacts with appropriate mitigation and management measures.

Once operational, the ship lift will be capable of lifting 5000 tonnes and will be Northern Australia’s biggest ship lift.

The ship lift will be part of the infrastructure that forms a maritime industry precinct at East Arm. The precinct is expected to be able to service larger vessels in sectors such as defence, energy, pearling, fishing and coastal cruising. The NT government-owned facility will provide wet and dry berths for vessel wash-down, blasting, painting and general maintenance facilities.

The ship lift is intended to cement Darwin’s position as a regional hub for marine maintenance, servicing northern Australia and South East Asia.

Construction is expected to start in the second half of 2022, to be operational by late 2024.

NT chief minister Michael Gunner said the ship lift will be built in the territory.

“The investment in this major national project means expanding our marine industry and providing new opportunities for businesses and for Territorians,” he said.

“It will also position our industry and capabilities on the international map, which will help us capitalise on future investment opportunities and continuing growing the economy.”