Cairns Port Development Inc. welcomes the State Governments commitment and that of other political parties to carry out the smaller project at the Barron Delta. However, we urge Ports North to amend the revised draft EIS nominating the Barron Delta solution as stage one of a larger project.
Ron Crew, President of Cairns Port Development Inc. states “it is only a short-term plan that will cost more to deliver and earn less. The downsized project only removes one quarter of the volume of marine sediment required to widen and deepen the shipping channel”
“Critically, the public must know that once the downsized project plan is approved the door will shut, as all further major capital dredging for the Cairns port is banned under the Queensland Governments Sustainable Ports Development Act. This is regressive and will certainly place an economic cap on our region’s future growth.”
The Environmental Impact Study economic report estimates the 2015 project earnings are $1.1 billion but the downsized project shows an earning of only $760 million. It will lose $340 million and limit ships lengths to 300 metres rather than 320 metres in the 2015 project plan. Therefore, the Voyager class of cruise ship won’t be able to access the port with a length of 311 metres.
The AEC 2016 shipping demand study records that the Voyager cruise ship will have 60% of the cruise industry market share by 2026. The study also records that no new smaller Regal or Sun class ships are on order and smaller Grand and Vista vessels will be out of production by 2023. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines will have eight ships in Australia by 2020 but not one will be less than 300 metres.
Cairns Port Development Inc are also calling for amendments to the Commonwealth Reef 2050 Plan and Queensland Sustainable Ports Development Act to support long-term planning for Cairns port and recommends that the next immediate step is to produce a phased long-term dredging plan.