The Cement Australia wharf in Gladstone Harbour.
The Cement Australia wharf in Gladstone Harbour. David Sparkes

Gladstone port to be declared a priority for development

THE State Government has proposed declaring five port areas where development will be concentrated and encouraged, including Gladstone.

Deputy Premier and State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Jeff Seeney said the move was among the key actions in the draft Queensland Ports Strategy released on Thursday.

He said the priority port development areas would be created for the ports of Brisbane, Mackay/Hay Point (two separate zones), Gladstone, Townsville and Abbot Point.

"Along Queensland's 6973 km coastline, there are 20 ports including 15 trading ports, two community ports and three gazetted non-trading ports," Mr Seeney said.

"This is the government's blueprint for managing and improving the efficiency and environmental management of the state's port network over the next decade.

"This strategy will also prohibit capital dredging for the development of deep water port facilities outside of the priority areas for the next 10 years.

"This will ensure the protection of the balance of the Queensland coastline from capital dredging projects."

Mr Seeney said the government would work to have legislation in place by next year to deliver on the commitments.

We need to find a sensible way forward and work within the existing port networks to ensure our state can still do business but not put at risk our greatest natural asset, the Great Barrier Reef.

He said the strategy preserved and built on the state's commitment in the Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy to restrict any significant port development within and adjoining the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area to within port limits to 2022.

"The draft Queensland Ports Strategy aligns with the recommendation made by UNESCO that the Australian and Queensland Governments restrict port development outside the long-established major port areas within or adjoining the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area," Mr Seeney said.

"We need to find a sensible way forward and work within the existing port networks to ensure our state can still do business but not put at risk our greatest natural asset, the Great Barrier Reef.

"In 2011-2012, these proposed priority ports handled 87% of Queensland's $54.5 billion in exports and were responsible for 98% of the state's imports.

"Coal is still the predominant commodity export representing 63% of volumes, followed by bauxite at 15% and petroleum products at 6%.

"The remaining 22 per cent is shared by metals and minerals, general cargo, agriculture and other products."

Gladstone Harbour.
Gladstone Harbour. Brenda Strong

Conservation society says destruction of reef will continue

The Australian Marine Conservation Society said the strategy confirmed the government would continue to fast track industrial development on the Great Barrier Reef coastline.

Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said the rapid, widespread and deeply damaging industrial development for the reef's coast would continue without any concerns being addressed.

"The Queensland Government has today indicated they are not concerned with protecting the Great Barrier Reef from massive industrial developments," Ms Wishart said.

"The proposed ports strategy means more dredging - millions of tonnes will be torn up from the seafloor and dumped in the reef's waters.

"This proposal means thousands more coal ships will pass through the reef every year.

"This draft strategy is further evidence that the Queensland Government does not care what the World Heritage Committee thinks as this will put the reef under great danger."

The draft Queensland Ports Strategy will be open for public comment until 13 December 2013.

For more information and to complete an online survey to have your say visit www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/qps.



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