ABOVE: The close-to-empty port earlier this year. Over the last 18 years, the port has achieved its own standard for “optimum berth occupancy” just 20% of the time.
With so many questions surrounding the proposed expansion of Townsville Port, there’s always room for one more…
So, here you go: How many new berths (parking spots for vessels at the wharves) will be built? If you’ve read the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the Additional EIS (the AEIS), you’d probably conclude we are looking at six (6) new berths. After all that’s the number bandied about in dozens of places. Table 2.1 from the AEIS, for example, showing variations to the project between the EIS (column 2 in following screenshot) and the AEIS (column 3), shows, that there will be no change to the number of new berths – both are SIX.
So it’s six right?
Well maybe not.
At a Magnetic Island Residents and Ratepayers Association (MIRRA) community meeting on the island on Saturday March 4, 2019, the CEO of the Port of Townsville, Ranee Crosby, said it could be as low as ONE!
Yep, the number of berths will depend, it seems, on how many requests for berthing facilities the port gets down the track from shippers and shipping lines.
So all that dredging, reclamation of sea, destruction of and damage to marine habitat, fish nurseries, seagrass, beaches, water quality and lifestyle – all the 11.4 million cubic metres of capital dredging dug up over 10.5 years and the 450,000+ cubic metres of maintenance dredge spoil dumped in the ocean just off Magnetic Island every year, for ever, could be for just one extra berth – and bigger vessels to enter the existing port.*
Hands up anyone who thinks that that adds up! * Presumably these bigger vessels won’t require a deeper channel because the deepening of the channels is (under the revised plan) minimal and wouldn’t occur until 2030. Until then it’s all about widening the channels. Odd, because the overriding issue between 2007 and 2016 was all about the need to deepen the channel.