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«JULY 2012 CONTENTS Executive Summary 5 1 Introduction 8 1.1 Background 8 1.2 Purpose of Initial Advice Statement 9 2 The Proponent 10 3 The nature of ...»

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CAIRNS SHIPPING DEVELOPMENT PROJECT

Initial Advice Statement

JULY 2012

CONTENTS

Executive Summary 5

1 Introduction 8

1.1 Background 8

1.2 Purpose of Initial Advice Statement 9

2 The Proponent 10 3 The nature of the proposal 11 3.1 Project Location 11 3.2 Project Description 13 3.3 Project Timing 18 3.4 Project Rationale 18 3.5 Employment Opportunities 19 3.6 Relationship to other projects 20 3.7 Project Alternatives 20 4 Key Project Elements 21 4.1 The Project 21 4.2 Historical and Existing Dredging of Trinity Inlet 22 4.3 Existing Land Use Tenure and Management 22 5 Description of the Existing Environment 27 5.1 Existing Climate Conditions 27 5.2 Terrestrial Geology 27 5.3 Marine Geology 28 5.4 Coastal Processes 28 5.5 Protected Areas 32 5.6 Marine Ecology and Habitats 40 5.7 Water Quality 45 5.8 Cultural Heritage 47 5.9 Climate Change and Extreme Events 48 5.10 Noise and Vibration 48 5.11 Air quality 48 6 Potential Impacts of the Project and Management / Mitigation Measures 49 6.1 Geological Conditions 49 6.2 Coastal Processes 49 6.3 Protected Areas 52 6.4 Marine Ecology 52 6.5 Water Quality 54 Cairns Shipping Development Project Initial Advice Statement July 2012

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Executive Summary The Port of Cairns has a long history as a key cruise destination in Queensland with cruise ship numbers growing steadily over the past 15 years. Cruise shipping has grown significantly in Australia in recent years, both in numbers and in the size of vessels.

The expansion of cruise ship facilities in Cairns is seen as an important step in developing increased tourism opportunities in North Queensland and to support and grow cruise ship operations in Queensland. Improving cruise ship infrastructure in Cairns will result in considerable benefits to the local economy and the Queensland cruise industry. The key requirements, to enhance cruise ship visit numbers, involve dredging a broader and deeper entrance channel to allow port access for larger cruise ships and upgrading berth infrastructure within Trinity Inlet. This will lead to the general expansion of North Queensland’s cruise industry, opportunities for increased itineraries throughout the State and bring growth, stability and diversity to the Cairns tourism market sector.

The need for increased development of cruise infrastructure is recognised in all regional economic development plans. The Tropical North Queensland Regional Economic Plan (developed and approved by Advance Cairns), the Cairns Regional Council and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce have the expansion of the cruise industry and the development of key infrastructure, including channel dredging, as an important growth strategy to strengthen and diversify the regions tourism industry and destination appeal. Similarly, Regional Development Australia Far North Queensland and Torres Straits regional road map identifies the development of the cruise shipping channel as a key infrastructure asset needed for social and economic development and future sustainability of the region.

At present, about a quarter of cruise ships visiting the area are unable to come into the Cairns seaport because of their size. This means significant related expenditure is being lost to the regional economy. Such cruise ships must anchor off Yorkey’s Knob and ferry passengers ashore before bussing them 15 km into the city, which is very inefficient both in terms of cost and time. Crew are generally unable to come ashore for leave and, if weather conditions are not favourable, passengers are discouraged from coming ashore. Looking forward, the current strong growth in the cruise sector is expected to continue, with most of the growth being in ship sizes not currently able to enter Cairns seaport.

Far North Queensland Ports Corporation Limited (trading as Ports North), with support from the State Government, initiated the Cairns Cruise Shipping Development Strategy to expand tourism cruise ship opportunities by allowing larger cruise vessels to enter the Port of Cairns. It estimates that improved access to Cairns will see mega cruise ship numbers grow by 61 annual visits by 2025, delivering regional economic benefits of $436m over the next 25 years. Importantly, it will allow the cruise industry to establish Cairns Port as a ‘Home’ port as well as the current ‘Transit’ port.

The project is expected to generate 215 full time equivalent employment opportunities during the construction phase and 370 additional flow-on jobs per annum by 2026 and 540 per annum by 2041 resulting from the increased cruise ship visits. The project will not only deliver significant economic benefit to Cairns, but will also deliver further benefits to the State of Queensland due to the considerable flow-on effects to the wider cruise industry.

Cairns Shipping Development ProjectInitial Advice StatementJuly 2012

Whilst the major justification for the project stems from the potential cruise shipping opportunities,

there are also significant benefits to other non-cruise forms of shipping, including:

 The project will enable future expansion of the HMAS Cairns Navy base, in keeping with the Defence Force Posture Review, which recommends upgrading / expansion of bases at Cairns and Darwin. This potential expansion could bring permanent defence force staff to reside in Cairns and will also allow larger visiting overseas Navy vessels (in particular US Navy carriers) to enter the port for R&R visits.





 The wider and deeper shipping channel will reduce the current tidal and loading restrictions on general cargo ships accessing the Port, thereby improving port efficiency.

The existing channel for the Port of Cairns is 13km long, 90m wide with an 8.3m draft and is dredged annually, with the dredge material placed in a Great Barrier Marine Park Authority approved area 9km north of the Port of Cairns. The 10 year permit for the placement area was issued in 2010.

The existing channel is of insufficient size to cater for the new mega cruise ships and the associated landside infrastructure also requires upgrading. The Cairns Cruise Shipping Development Strategy identifies the works necessary to cater for the future growth in cruise ship numbers and overcome existing constraints. Development of the Strategy has been guided by the principle of delivering necessary infrastructure while balancing protection of the environment. Key elements involve widening the existing channel to 140m and increasing its depth to - 9.4m LAT combined with shore based wharf and services infrastructure upgrades.

The project scope for the proposed Cairns Shipping Development (CSD) project, which will deliver the improved cruise ship infrastructure, involves 5million m3 of capital dredging, relocated navigational aids, wharf fender upgrades and land based infrastructure services upgrades.

This project has direct benefits and linkages to the recently constructed Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal and the Cairns Cityport Masterplan. The Terminal was an award winning development which was opened in 2010 and provides modern facilities to cater for cruise visitations to the region within a heritage listed wharf shed. The Terminal is located within the Cityport project, an urban revitalisation project, opening up the waterfront of Cairns to the public. A key element of this project is to activate the waterfront through marine infrastructure, including Super yachts, Marinas, Reef Fleet and Cruise.

The purpose of this Initial Advice Statement (IAS) is to provide information to the Coordinator General for consideration in seeking significant project declaration for the Cairns Shipping Development project under the provisions of the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (SDPWO Act) for which an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared.

This project will occur within, or within close proximity to a World Heritage Area, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and a Fish Habitat Area. These areas contain habitat, such as seagrass beds, that are important for a number of significant species including cetaceans, dugongs, juvenile fish and turtles. Consequently, works have the potential to impact on matters of National Environmental Significance and therefore the project will be referred to Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPC) for determination as to what controlled actions will require assessment and approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Cairns Shipping Development ProjectInitial Advice StatementJuly 2012

The EPBC Act recognises that environmental assessment under the Queensland SDPWO Act may be used for the purposes of the environmental assessment under the EPBC Act in accordance with the Bilateral Agreement between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments. If such designation is granted, this will allow the Commonwealth Minister to rely on specified environmental impact assessment processes of the State of Queensland in assessing actions under the EPBC Act.

An assessment of the existing environment and an assessment of potential impacts will be undertaken as part of the EIS process. It is expected that the potential impacts resulting from the CSD project on the natural, social and built environment can be avoided or minimised through appropriate mitigation measures. However, where this cannot be achieved, consideration will be given to appropriate offsets in accordance with relevant Government policies.

Consultation with relevant regulatory agencies and other stakeholder including the local community will be implemented to identify the broad issues of concern and to inform the EIS process. A Draft Terms of Reference for the EIS will be prepared and advertised for public comment. Comments will be incorporated into the Final TOR setting out the scope of the EIS.

Cairns Shipping Development ProjectInitial Advice StatementJuly 2012

1 Introduction

1.1 Background Cairns is a popular destination for cruise ships. During 2010 twenty-eight (28) cruise liners visited Cairns and fifteen (15) other cruise liners anchored off Yorkey’s Knob. Together these forty-three (43) cruise liners brought 50,000 passengers to the Cairns region.

Due to the global growth in the cruise industry, there has been an increase in the size of cruise liners to service growing demand and industry sources expect that some of the smaller vessels currently operating in Australasia and the Pacific Regions will be displaced by much larger vessels. Therefore, current port infrastructure is under pressure to provide access for these larger vessels. In Cairns, the existing access channel restricts entry for the larger vessels and less manoeuvrable older liners.

Far North Queensland Ports Corporation Limited (trading as Ports North) initiated the Cairns Cruise Shipping Development Strategy with support from the State Government to identify how tourism cruise ship opportunities can be expanded by allowing larger cruise vessels to enter the Port of Cairns.

The final report for the Cairns Cruise Shipping Development Strategy was issued in June 2012 and includes the following components:

 Demand analysis of potential cruise shipping for Cairns  Environmental assessment to determine aspects, potential impacts and subsequent approval requirements  Infrastructure assessments to determine the extent of channel dredging and other land based infrastructure requirements to satisfy the cruise demand  Economic benefits of additional cruise visitation  Business case for undertaking capital dredging and other infrastructure improvements.

The expansion of cruise ship facilities in Cairns is seen as an important step in developing increased tourism opportunities in North Queensland and to support and grow cruise ship operations in Queensland. Improving infrastructure to facilitate this could result in considerable benefits to the local economy and the Queensland cruise industry. Having an additional alongside berth for mega cruise ships based in the north of the state will provide opportunities for increased cruise itineraries throughout the whole of the state. Dredging a broader and deeper channel to allow port access for larger cruise ships and establishing Cairns Port as a ‘Home’ port instead of the current ‘Transit’ port will lead to the general expansion of North Queensland’s cruise industry and also bring some stability and diversity to the Cairns tourism market sector.

The development of cruise infrastructure is recognised in the regional economic development plans. The tropical north Queensland regional economic plan developed and approved by Advanced Cairns and the major Cairns based organisations including Cairns Regional Council and Chamber of Commerce has the expansion of the cruise industry and the development of key infrastructure including channel dredging as an important growth strategy to Strengthen and Diversify the Regions Tourism Industry and Destination Appeal. Similarly Regional Development Australia Far North Queensland and Torres Straits regional road map identifies the development of

Cairns Shipping Development ProjectInitial Advice StatementJuly 2012

the cruise shipping channel as a key infrastructure asset needed for social and economic development and future sustainability of the region.

Whilst the major justification for the project stems from the potential cruise shipping opportunities,

there are also significant benefits to other non-cruise forms of shipping, including:

 The Defence Force Posture Review recommends the upgrading / expansion of bases at Cairns and Darwin to accommodate the future Offshore Combatant Vessel and the replacement Heavy Landing Craft. The location of the existing main swing basin in the inner harbour restricts the opportunity for the HMAS Cairns Navy base to expand. Relocation of the main swing basin and provision of a wider and deeper inner harbour channel as part of the Cairns Shipping Development project will enable the future Navy base expansion. The wider and deeper outer channel established for cruise shipping will also provide safer access for the new Australian Navy vessels and allow access for the larger US Navy carriers, which cannot currently enter the Port.



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