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Master planning for priority ports

The Queensland Government is leading master planning for the priority ports of Gladstone, Abbot Point, Townsville and Hay Point/Mackay.

Master planning for the Port of Gladstone is advancing and processes for the ports of Abbot Point, Townsville and Hay Point/Mackay will formally commence in 2017.

Port master planning for priority ports is a port-related action of Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050) and mandated under the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 (Ports Act).

Objectives of priority port master planning

Master planning processes for the priority ports will ensure:

  • the Outstanding Universal Value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is an intrinsic consideration in future port development, management and governance
  • optimisation of the use of infrastructure at the long-established major ports
  • transparent decision making
  • meaningful engagement with stakeholders.

Historically, Queensland ports have focussed on land use planning within strategic port land.

Port master planning will require consideration of issues beyond strategic port land including marine and land-based impacts, port and supply chain capacity and connectivity, and environmental and community values.

The objective is to optimise the use of infrastructure and address operational, economic, environmental and community relationships, as well as supply chains and surrounding land uses.

Through mandatory port master planning Queensland will:

  • set the standard for port master planning, being the first state to coordinate planning and sustainable port development beyond the port boundary
  • be the first state to require consultation with stakeholders and the community on the future direction of priority ports
  • protect areas for future essentials that a growing port will require, such as shipping channels, swing basins and berth pockets, as well as land corridors for roads, rail lines, gas and water pipelines and power lines.

Port master planning will support the sustainable development of critical economic infrastructure, the state's priority ports, in a way that will balance growth, job creation, environmental values and community interests.

Port overlay

An important outcome of port master planning is the port overlay, a regulatory instrument that implements the master plan over the master planned area. The port overlay will provide the measures required to deliver the vision, objectives and desired outcomes of the master plan, including priority management measures for environmental values.

At the strategic level, the port overlay, operating as part of a broader regulatory planning framework for priority ports, will ensure consistency of state interests while retaining the autonomy of decision making for existing planning authorities in relation to their respective planning instruments within a port master planned area.


The Queensland Government is leading port master planning working closely with port authorities and other key stakeholders. Public consultation will be conducted as an important part of the port master planning process.

Statutory consultation periods within the master planning process under the Ports Act is outlined in the following diagram:

Process and stakeholder consultation


A port master planning process will take approximately 12 to 18 months, depending on the nature of each priority port.

The process for the priority Port of Gladstone has formally commenced under the Ports Act and a draft master plan is expected to be released for public comment in mid-2017. Processes for all other priority ports will commence in 2017 through a staged approach.

Further information