The state government of Queensland, Australia has given environmental clearance for an AUD120m ($92.6m) project to upgrade the Port of Cairns in Queensland.
Minister for state development, manufacturing, infrastructure and planning Cameron Dick said: “The Ports North project will be a game-changer for the Far North Queensland tourism industry by allowing a significant increase in the size and number of cruise ships and other vessels that can berth in Cairns.
“Economic modelling suggests the project will deliver an $850 million boost to Far North Queensland tourism.”
The Cairns Shipping Development Project is expected to accommodate more than 100 additional cruise ships annually in the Port of Cairns by 2031, potentially tripling of the number of passenger-days spent in Cairns.
Dick added: “More significantly, the upgrade will enable mega class cruise ships up to 300m in length to berth at the port.”
During its construction, the project will create over 195 full-time equivalent jobs, including professional services and engineering jobs to upgrade wharves at the port.
Additionally, deeper channel access to the HMAS Cairns Navy base will enhance the potential for the Royal Australian Navy’s larger ships and US naval carriers to berth in Cairns, allowing future expansion of defence activities in the region.
Dick said: “In his evaluation report, the coordinator-general evaluated all the possible environmental impacts and sets comprehensive conditions to manage potential impacts on Trinity Inlet within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and state marine park.
“They include managing marine water quality, plant clearing and activity in the state marine park."
Minister for transport and main roads Mark Bailey said: “The previous scope of the project under LNP - involving 4.4 million cubic metres of dredge spoil and costing up to $440 million - just didn’t stack up, environmentally or economically.”
Subject to Commonwealth environmental approvals, Ports North plan to commence work in 2019.