Cairns is a small, magical city on the North-East coast of Queensland. The Great Barrier Reef, rain forest and glorious tropical weather are just three features that attract visitors from across Australia and the rest of the world.
Many cruise ships visit Cairns, docking at the cruise terminal adjacent to the central area with its many restaurants, entertainment facilities and the lagoon by the marina. Larger cruise ships have to anchor a few kilometres North of Cairns off Yorkeys Knob. Passengers come ashore in tenders. A Channel 7 TV News item on 28 November 2012 interviewed several passengers who were dismayed at the long boat trip to get ashore, then the lack of welcome, unlike other ports they visited that have music, gifts of flowers and shelter. Queensland State MP, Gavin King, suggested putting up a welcome sign. It was dismaying to hear a cruise director from the Celebrity Solstice, visiting Yorkeys Knob on 4 December, say: ‘It’s like a dead city; no welcome, no taxis for my passengers…’
Ports North proposed dredging the Trinity Inlet channel to provide sufficient depth of water for all except the largest mega-cruise ships to navigate the channel and dock at the central cruise terminal – clearly a major advantage for cruise passengers, and certain to attract more cruise ships. This dredging project has many implications and potential major benefits in addition to attracting more cruise ships. The downside is that Ports North propose to dump the massive amount of spoil – 5+ million cubic metres - from the dredging in an extended area near the Great Barrier Reef, to the dismay of most Cairns residents.
The Queensland Coordinator-General issued draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the dredging project assessment; submissions were invited so anyone could comment on the draft TOR. The deadline was 29 October 2012. One submission presented can be viewed at Submission for Cairns Shipping Development Project draft Terms of Reference, Peter Senior, 291012. This submission canvasses the key issues and presents several suggestions, in particular noting that dredging spoil could be used as bulk-fill to assist fixing the environmental disaster at East Trinity.
It is very gratifying that the Coordinator-General’s revised Terms of Reference document includes a well-balanced approach that requires rigorous assessment of a range of land-based solutions for the use of Trinity Inlet dredging spoil:
The Cairns Regional Council’s 12th December meeting considered the Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy, a succinct and relevant paper which includes requests for submissions by 14th December:
Ports North announced on 22 April: ‘The Cairns Shipping Development Project took another step forward today announcing Arup in partnership with BMT WBM as the Lead Consultants who will work with Ports North to deliver a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to meet the requirements of both the State and Commonwealth Governments.’
Many Cairns local business people and community members look forward with great interest to reading what the report has to say, and what the Queensland Co-ordinator General’s departmental response is, regarding the EIS terms of reference points such as:
- Disposal methods including provision for different dredging equipment, material.
- Descriptions of all feasible alternative land-based spoil disposal.
- Sufficient baseline economic data to underpin a comprehensive assessment of the direct, indirect, cumulative, costs and impacts of the project.
- The indirect impacts likely to flow to other industries and economies from developing the project, and the implications of the project for future development.
Comments are welcome: click on the ‘Leave a comment’ link below and then add comments in the ‘Leave a reply’ box at the bottom. Alternatively, comments can be emailed directly to the presentation and submission author, Peter Senior at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Further related documents will be added shortly.
Other documents related to the submission and presentation:
Government documents relating to the project are available at: http://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/cairns-shipping-development-project.html
At this point, it seems The Cairns Post is the only ‘leader’ pushing a vision for Cairns on a range of issues including many articles describing the manifest benefits that would result from dredging the Trinity Inlet. Cairns Post front page 08-05-12 Cairns Post follow-on 08-05-12. Hopefully Cairns’ civic leaders will take up the challenge soon.
It also seems no-one showed former Premier Peter Beattie all the evidence that had been provided to his departments, or informed the Cairns City/Regional Council on related maaters. A letter from Peter Beattie dated 4 February 1999 included: “In relation to the acid suphate and sewerage issues you raise, this Government has seen no evidence which would indicate there is an acid sulphate problem at East Trinity, while matters pertaining to solid waste disposal are primarily the responsibility of the Cairns City Council and, as such, should be raised directly with this authority.”
A history of East Trinity: History of East Trinity, letter, 180607