Gladstone Ports Corporation's fortnightly container service started this week with the arrival of Kota Nasrat.
Gladstone Ports Corporation's fortnightly container service started this week with the arrival of Kota Nasrat.

GPC dredging project approved with 20 conditions

THE Federal Government has granted conditional approval for Gladstone Ports Corporation's application to dredge 800,000 cubic metres in the Gladstone Harbour.

Two years after applications were lodged, the $80million Clinton Vessel Interaction Project has been given approval with 20 conditions by the Department of Environment and Energy.

Acting chief executive Craig Walker said the conditional approval marked another milestone for the project.

Currently, Capesize vessels with drafts of more than 14m leaving Wiggins Island Coal Terminal have to pass within 80m of ships berthed at the RG Tanna Coal Terminal.

The water displaced by the passing ship can break mooring lines, or in the extreme, cause damage to ships.

GPC said the dredging will provide a "permanent solution" by increasing the width of the channel by about 100m.

Conditions in the approval include the dredging must not occur outside the Clinton Channel and the Western Basin Reclamation Area and no more than 800,000cu m of material can be removed.

Another condition is for there to be no uncontrolled releases of the dredge material from the reclamation area.

GPC would also need to implement a Fine-grained Sediment Validation Monitoring Plan and would need to complete annual compliance reports and a Dredging Completion Report within six months of the project finishing.

Mr Walker said the conditions meant the project would be delivered "under stringent environmental guidelines".

He said the CVIP is consistent with the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.

Throughout the project GPC will be monitoring a range of parameters including real-time water quality, he said.

The department said GPC may also deliver offsets in contributions to a Reef Trust.

Mr Walker said preparatory works have started, but further internal approvals and a thorough procurement process still need to be completed.

"GPC is committed to ensuring the safety of vessels transiting the port," he said.

In previous documents lodged with the department GPC said it would give provision for dredging methods that would reduce the impact on water quality.

BMT Eastern Australia's assessment of the proposed work found while there was no seagrass in the dredge footprint, parts of it did contain "low to moderate" soft corals, feather stars and hard corals.

The approval is in effect until June 30, 2026.

GPC hopes to complete the work this year.