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Releasing the draft Terms of Reference today, Coordinator-General Colin Jensen called on interested parties to have their say on the terms that will shape the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Mr Jensen said that the Port of Townsville was proposing to provide a dedicated marine precinct for commercial and recreational use at the mouth of the Ross River in the Port of Townsville.
“This proposed project incorporates public boat ramps, parking bays and a public recreation areas plus offshore elements such as a breakwater and areas for private moorings,” Mr Jensen said.
“The project seeks to address the ongoing and increasing demand for marine facilities in the area by providing a sheltered, purpose built precinct for both marine dependant industries and public facilities.
“A marine precinct concept at the mouth of the Ross River has been proposed in various forms since the mid 1970’s.
“The project has already been identified as a key infrastructure component of the Townsville City – Port Strategic Plan released by the Department of Infrastructure and Planning in June 2007.
“The Port of Townsville has estimated that the 34 hectare project will cost between $100 and $150 million dollars to construct and will directly employ 150 people,” Mr Jensen said.
The proposal includes a new Benwell Road access point to address the issue of access.
“Before the Port of Townsville can prepare an EIS we need public input into the areas of investigation the draft Terms of Reference should cover,” Mr Jensen said.
“The scale, potential effects and complexity of approvals for this project requires a rigorous EIS to consider the potential environmental, cultural and socio-economic impacts on the local community.
“Given those potential impacts the proponent must prepare a detailed EIS outlining the benefits of this project and show how they would minimise potential impacts.”
A decision on whether to proceed with the project, proceed with amendments or not to proceed will be made by the Queensland Coordinator-General after the environmental assessment process has been completed.
On August 22 the Coordinator General declared the project to be a ‘significant project for which an EIS is required’ under the State Development and Public Works Act 197.
“It is important for the public to know that a ‘significant project for which an EIS is required’ declaration is not an indication of approval or support for a project,” Mr Jensen said.
“Rather it is recognition of the significant complexity of a project – the substantial benefits it may bring and the and the need to carefully assess its impacts and how they could be mitigated if the project was approved to succeed.”
A further opportunity for public comment on the project will be available when the EIS is released for public comment in 2009.
The draft Terms of Reference are available to view at the Townsville City Council offices, Walker Street Townsville and Townsville City Library Northtown, Flinders Mall and the State Library of Queensland. Submission can also be made online at www.dip.qld.gov.au/projects/transport/harbours-and-ports/townsville-marine-precinct.html.
Submissions should be made in writing and close on 22 December 2008.
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