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Cairns Happy with Port Dredging Compromise

Posted on November 5, 2015

The Queensland government will change legislation to allow the expansion of a far north Queensland port.

State Development Minister Anthony Lynham will next week amend the Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015 to allow capital dredging at Cairns Port, despite it not being considered a “priority port”.

It will allow Ports North to dredge up to 50,000 cubic metres of material per project and up to a total of 150,000 cubic metres in a four-year period.

That’s despite capital dredging currently only being allowed at the four major priority ports of Gladstone, Abbot Point, Townsville and Hay Point/Mackay.

Other ports are only allowed to undertake maintenance dredging.

Treasurer Curtis Pitt, whose electorate is based in Cairns, says the compromise recognised the port’s economic benefits and would help attract new investment to the region.

“This is all about striking a balance that protects the environment and supports economic development, jobs and future trade growth in the far north,” he said.

Green groups have welcomed the compromise, with the Australian Marine Conservation Society and WWF Australia saying it protected the Great Barrier Reef by banning dumping at sea.

“Overall, these laws are a major step forward in protecting the Reef from rampant industrial development, dredging and dumping,” WWF Australia reef campaigner Louise Matthiesson said.

Advocacy group Advance Cairns has described the amendments as a “workable compromise”.

“Whilst the proposal is not optimal, it is workable, is welcomed, and acknowledges the importance of the Cairns Port to the regional and state economy, and provides for the ability for the port to grow as our city grows,” CEO Mark Matthews said.

The Cairns Chamber of Commerce said the compromise came about because the government worked closely with the community.

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