The Queensland Government is implementing the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050), the most comprehensive plan ever developed to secure the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef for generations to come.
The Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 (Ports Act) establishes a legislative framework for the implementation of key port-related actions of Reef 2050 including:
- protecting greenfield areas by restricting new port development in and adjoining the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) to within current port limits, excluding both Commonwealth and state marine parks
- restricting major capital dredging for the development of new or expansion of existing port facilities to within the regulated port limits of the priority ports of Gladstone, Hay Point/Mackay, Abbot Point and Townsville
- prohibiting the sea-based disposal of material generated by port-related capital dredging into the GBRWHA.
In line with Reef 2050, the Ports Act mandates master plans for priority ports to optimise infrastructure and address operational, economic, environmental and community relationships, as well as supply chains and surrounding land uses.
The Ports Act provides for the protection of the GBRWHA through managing port-related development in and adjacent to the area, while also meeting the government's commitment to grow Queensland's economy, jobs and regions.
The Queensland Government's commitment to protect the Fitzroy Delta, Keppel Bay and North Curtis Island is reaffirmed by the Ports Act. The Ports Act does not designate the Port of Rockhampton (Port Alma) as a priority port.
Port Alma and the Fitzroy Delta, Keppel Bay and North Curtis Island are also excluded from the proposed master planned area for the priority Port of Gladstone.
The Ports Act will regulate the development of ports operating in and adjacent to the reef to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of the GBRWHA into the future.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee's decision of 1 July 2015 to not place the Great Barrier Reef on its world heritage ‘in-danger’ list represents international confidence in the Queensland Government's ability to effectively manage and protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Ports play a critical role in supporting economic development in Queensland and the nation.
In accordance with Reef 2050 the government will balance the protection of the GBRWHA with the development of the state's major bulk commodity ports operating in and adjacent to the area, providing improved environmental and economic outcomes for Queensland.
The legislation declares the ports of Gladstone, Abbot Point, Townsville and Hay Point/Mackay as priority ports and requires the preparation of master plans for priority ports to establish a long-term vision for their future development consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
Master planning will preserve areas for future essentials that a growing port will require, such as corridors for roads, rail lines, gas and water pipelines and power lines. It will also ensure protection of areas that support community needs as well as sensitive environmental areas.
The master planning process will do this through articulating a high level strategic vision for the priority port that must be taken into account by all those responsible for planning and assessment decisions in a master planned area.
Master planning will facilitate coordinated planning of land and marine areas by identifying state interests through a cooperative approach. Existing planning authorities will retain their decision-making roles by ensuring state interests are managed consistently.
Master planning will provide certainty for priority ports and associated industry sectors. It will also ensure the Reef's Outstanding Universal Value is an intrinsic consideration in future port development.
The Queensland Government is leading priority port master planning working closely with port authorities, local governments and other key stakeholders.
In accordance with the Ports Act, community consultation and engagement will be an important part of the master planning process.
Master planning for the priority Port of Gladstone is advancing. A draft master plan was released for public consultation from 28 August 2017 to 9 October 2017. Submissions are currently being considered with a view of preparing a final master plan and master planned area.
Master planning for the priority Port of Townsville has formally commenced with a notice of proposal issued in early 2017. An evidence base for master planning is currently being prepared in consultation with Port of Townsville Limited, Townsville City Council, state agencies and other key stakeholders.
Preliminary master planning processes for the priority ports of Abbot Point and Hay Point/Mackay are underway.
The outcomes of master planning for a priority port will include:
- a strategic vision and associated objectives for the master planned area
- articulation of the port related state interests and how those interests must be considered in all planning decisions made within the master planned area
- an environmental management framework for the master planned area that reflects ecologically sustainable development.
Yes. In accordance with the Ports Act, public consultation will be an important part of the port master planning process. The community and key stakeholders will be given the opportunity to comment on draft documents for both the establishment and review of port master plans.
A draft master plan for the priority Port of Gladstone was released for public consultation from 28 August 2017 to 9 October 2017. Submissions are currently being considered with a view of preparing a final master plan and master planned area.
Subsequent public consultation processes are being planned for draft master plans for the priority ports of Abbot Point, Townsville and Hay Point/Mackay.
Public consultation will also be undertaken for draft port overlays, the regulatory instruments that will support the implementation of master plans. Port overlays for priority port master planned areas will operate in a coordinated way with the broader regulatory framework for priority ports.
The Queensland Government is committed to supporting the sustainable growth and development of the Port of Cairns recognising the importance of the port to the city of Cairns and Far North Queensland.
Under the Ports Act, the Port of Cairns is permitted limited capital dredging within the port's inner harbour—no more than 50,000 cubic metres per approval with a total volumetric limit of 150,000 cubic metres in a four-year period.
No sea-based disposal of port-related capital dredged material is permitted in the GBRWHA.
The new laws provide the port with opportunities to undertake small scale development to ensure future growth without compromising protection of the GBRWHA.
After four years, the government will conduct a review of these dredging limits, which will involve public consultation, to ensure the balance between economic development and protection of the GBRWHA at the Port of Cairns is being achieved.
The Ports Act also includes a transitional provision enabling projects that are subject to an active environmental impact statement (EIS) process to continue. Accordingly, the Cairns Shipping Development Project EIS process may proceed to assess the proposed development of the main navigation channel and swing basins.