A LUCRATIVE regional cruise ship industry is set to be delivered to Cairns following the completion of a deeper, wider navigation channel as part of the Cairns Shipping Development Project.

Advanced equipment and techniques were employed to enable the soft material to be pumped from an underwater pipeline to an on-land site, while stiffer clay material has been placed on Ports North land in Tingira Street for beneficial re-use.

Over the coming weeks minor channel bed-levelling and final surveys of the project area will be carried out as will the de-mobilisation of plant and equipment and initiation of rehabilitation works in accordance with the project approval conditions.

Ports North chairman Russell Beer said Ports North had worked “tirelessly over many years to find the balance between protecting the environment and the Great Barrier Reef, and ensuring our port can facilitate economic growth for the region”.

“We have worked with government at all levels, the community and business and complied with hundreds of conditions to make this project happen. I am very proud of our team,” Mr Beer said.

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Member for Cairns Michael Healy visited the Cairns Port to meet with locals who worked on the project and farewell the 111m-long dredging ship Balder R, which was tasked with opening up the inlet for larger cruise ships.

He hailed the dredging a resounding success, saying it signalled a new era for Cairns.

“A deeper channel means more opportunities and more jobs for Cairns,” Mr Healy said.

“The project will generate hundreds of millions of dollars for our economy, helping businesses to grow and train new apprentices.”

Works were completed on time and without incident, and comes after Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey and Mr Healy last month announced a $20m makeover for the port’s wharves.

The focus will now shift to wharves makeover, with works now underway that are due to be completed by April next year.

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