Qld passes port laws to protect Reef

NEW legislation passed in the Queensland state parliament yesterday will prevent at-sea disposal of capital dredged material from ports in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Lou Caruana

It would stop development of new ports in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and mandate master plans for all four priority ports, supporting further local development and investment, State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said.

The laws put into effect the government’s key port-related commitments in the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan, he said.

The legislation will also ensure that any port-related capital dredged material must be beneficially reused, or otherwise disposed of on land.

Beneficial reuse includes land reclamation, beach nourishment and environmental restoration, such as creating or restoring wetlands or nesting islands.

“The Queensland government listened to community feedback on the Sustainable Ports Development Bill,” Lynham said.

“We heard that communities at the four priority ports at Gladstone, Abbot Point, Townsville and Hay Point/Mackay wanted more consultation and engagement during the port master planning process,” he said.

“We’ve acted by mandating that consultation, extending it to include the review of a master plan and the related detailed plan – known as a port overlay.

“We committed to being an accountable government and this extra consultation provides greater transparency and accountability.”

The Queensland government has accepted all 13 recommendations made by the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee, either in full or in principle – including allowing limited capital dredging in Cairns.

“The needs of the Port of Cairns have been accommodated, acknowledging the importance of the port in growing regional economies through investment, export and job creation,” he said.

“The government has supported Cairns by allowing the port to grow as the city grows, while at the same time protecting the Great Barrier Reef.”

Master planning is underway at Gladstone and starts in the first quarter of 2016 at Abbot Point, in the second quarter of 2016 in Townsville and in 2017 at Hay Point/Mackay.