The Port of Townsville is northern Australia’s largest port, and the third largest in Queensland. More than 30 different commodity types are imported and exported through eight berths. Townsville is the number one port in Australia for exports of copper, zinc, lead and sugar.
The Port has had expansion plans in the pipeline for years now, initially submitting their project application in April 2011. Projects such as this have significant environmental impacts, and the North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC), with its charter to act to ensure protection of the natural environment and to promote ecologically sustainable development, has been involved every step of the way.
In May 2011, the Queensland Government through the Coordinator-General, gazetted the project as a “coordinated project”, triggering the requirement of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Following this, the project application was referred to the Federal Government, and on 1 July 2011 the Minister for the Environment deemed the project a “controlled action”. This is defined as a project that has the potential to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance and requires approval under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
In 2013, the EIS was released for public consultation. You can find NQCC’s response here. The Queensland Coordinator-General decided that additional information was required, which brings us to late 2016, when the Additional Environmental Impact Statement (AEIS) was released for public scrutiny. Importantly, and very quietly, between the publication of the EIS and the AEIS the Port requested permission from the Federal Department to vary the original (2103) proposal. This request was accepted. See The Port’s Changing Plans for more on this.
The time period for comments on the AEIS expired in November 2016, with over four thousand submissions. You can find NQCC’s response to the AEIS here.
NQCC, in collaboration with Magnetic Island Nature Care Association Inc (MINCA), is now continuing the campaign to ensure that the proposed port expansion does not damage the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area in which it is located.
As mentioned above, over the years, NQCC has been very active on marine issues, and made official submissions in relation to:
- Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy, 2012.
- multiple submissions on the Port of Abbot Point, in relation to expansion to support coal exports from the Galilee Basin (all submissions can be found here)
- The Federal Government’s consultation regarding the Port of Townsville Expansion Environment Impact Statement (EIS), 2013
- The North East Shipping Management Plan, 2013.
- The Sustainable Ports Development Bill, 2015.
- Queensland’s Draft Maintenance Dredging Strategy, 2016.