The $120 million Port of Cairns upgrade is closer to completion following the Queensland Government’s approval of the Environmental Impact Statement.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick today announced the state’s independent Coordinator-General has approved the port upgrades with very stringent reef safeguards.
“The Ports North project will be a game-changer for the Far North Queensland tourism industry by allowing a significant increase in the size and number of cruise ships and other vessels that can berth in Cairns,” Mr Dick said.
“Economic modelling suggests the project will deliver an $850 million boost to Far North Queensland tourism.
“The region will see the greatest benefit from passenger expenditure, port charges and associated supplies and servicing activity as the Cairns Shipping Development Project will allow for over 100 additional cruise ships to berth annually in the Port of Cairns by 2031.
“This will potentially result in a tripling of the number of passenger days spent in Cairns each year due to cruise ship tourism, being an increase of 225,000 passenger days each year by 2031.
“More significantly, the upgrade will enable mega class cruise ships up to 300m in length to berth at the port.”
Mr Dick said that a total of 183 ships are expected to visit Cairns with the help of the new channel by 2031.
The deeper channel access to the HMAS Cairns Navy base will also allow the Royal Australian Navy Ships and US naval carriers to berth in Cairns, according to Mr Dick.
Mr Dick said the Reef will be protected by a comprehensive set of conditions that Ports North must meet.
“In his evaluation report, the Coordinator-General evaluated all the possible environmental impacts and sets comprehensive conditions to manage potential impacts on Trinity Inlet within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and state marine park.
“They include managing marine water quality, plant clearing and activity in the state marine park.”
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said approval of the Cairns Port upgrade is an extremely positive result for the region.
“This project is a positive step for the Far North, providing a benefit not just for the tourism industry, but providing further opportunities for our marine services industry,” he said.
“Moving towards approval of this development is great news not only for Cairns, but for the whole Far North and for Queensland.”
Ports North plan to start work in 2019, subject to Federal Government environmental approvals, and plan to have the first larger cruise ship entering the upgraded channel in late 2019.