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 the use of infrastructure and address operational, economic, environmental and community relationships, as well as supply chains and surrounding land uses.
The new legislation provides greater protection of the Great Barrier Reef that also meets 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 Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 (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 boundary for the Gladstone port master planned area which was released for public consultation in mid-2015 and amended following consideration of submissions.
The Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 will regulate the development of ports operating in and adjacent to the reef to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area into the future.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee's decision of 1 July 2015 to not to 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 Great Barrier Reef with the development of the state's major bulk commodity ports, providing better environmental and economic outcomes for Queensland.
The legislation declares the ports of Gladstone, Abbot Point, Townsville and Hay Point/Mackay as priority ports and mandates port master planning for priority ports.
Port 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.
Port 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.
Port master planning will provide certainty for priority ports and their 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 councils and other key stakeholders. A port master planning process will take approximately 12 to 18 months, depending on the nature of each priority port.
In accordance with the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 (Ports Act), community consultation and engagement will be an important part of the priority port master planning process.
Master planning for the priority Port of Gladstone, the first process under the Ports Act, formally commenced in mid-2015. A draft master plan is currently being prepared in consultation with the port authority, local government, state agencies, industry and other key stakeholders. The draft master plan is expected to be released for public comment by mid-2017. Master planning for all other priority ports will formally commence next year through a staged approach.
The outcomes of the master planning for a priority port will include:
- a strategic vision and associated strategic 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 port master planned area
- an environmental management framework for the port master planned area that reflects ecologically sustainable development.
In accordance with the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015, each master planning process will deliver a port overlay which is 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 achieve 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.
Yes. In accordance with the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015, 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.
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 Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 (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 dredge material is permitted in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (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.