Wednesday, 22 February 2012

LNP’s dredging Trinity Inlet is “reckless and irresponsible”

Barron River MP Steve Wettenhall MP has slammed the LNP’s election announcement that it would dredge Trinity Inlet as “reckless and irresponsible”.

“How can anyone responsibly commit to a project of this scale without knowing the environmental impact, the true cost, or what the economic benefits would really be,” Steve Wettenhall, MP for Barron River said today.

“You don’t need to be an expert to appreciate that dredging is a high impact activity, particularly in such an environmentally sensitive location like Trinity Inlet. Where will the thousands of tonnes of dredge spoil be dumped? Will the mud and slush affect coral reefs, wash up on the northern beaches or destroy seagrass? What impact will dredging have on the Inlet and Bay fishery? These important questions remain unanswered,” Steve Wettenhall said.

Wettenhall says Campbell Newman has dismissed valid concerns in a “don’t you worry about that” style reminiscent of the National Party government.

He says the Bligh government had already recognised the importance of cruise ships visiting Cairns.

“That’s why we invested over $11M in an award winning redevelopment of the heritage listed cruise liner terminal,” Steve Wettenhall said. “But even if the Inlet was dredged, there’s no guarantee that the bigger boats will come so you have to know that the enormous cost is justified by the economic benefit.''

“The $40M the LNP has committed appears to seriously underestimate the true cost of dredging the Inlet, however even $40M would go a long way toward securing new airline access such as direct flights to Cairns from China and Singapore.''

Labor has said it's vital to know the environmental impact and economic benefit of dredging Trinity Inlet, as well if it is the best way to attract more tourists to Cairns.


Tony Hillier said...

A timely press release, Mr Wettenhall. Those of us who endured the dark days of the Bjelke-Petersen regime here in the 80s and vandals like Russ Hinze and Martin Tenni, know only too well what environmental destruction the National Party is capable of perpetrating. One only has to recall the devastation caused by the bulldozing gung ho of the Daintree road. Dredging of the Trinity Inlet shipping channel, a regular occurrence back, then resulted in heavy deposits of smelly mud on the northern beaches.

Alison Alloway said...

I dont think it a wise move at all to make this LNP commitment without the environmental report into dredging being released. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, to which the Cairns Port Authority is answerable, has powers to fine any vessel damaging the Great Barrier Reef up to one million dollars. As well as this the Cairns Port Authority must adhere to the Clean Seas Act.

Jamie Sutherland, Woree said...

It would be good but there appears little dept with the LNP suggestion... and how long-term this dredging would be....

Answers please!!!

Alison Alloway said...

The trouble is the Cairns Inlet is narrow and not too deep, it just isn't a natural "port". As well as this, the Great Barrier Reef comes in closest to Cairns of all the ports. This is why we developed the working ports of Mourilyan, Skardon River, Karumba and Cape Flattery.

Michael P Moore said...

This from Gavin King's Facebook page on Sunday...

Suzannah Dacre
Hi Gavin, not sure of you're interested in this... But between a best friend who is a marine engineer with Sea Swift, a commercial sea captain and surveyor father, and meeting the head huncho at the navy last Anzac day, they all say dredging won't work as it is the size of the channel and ship that is the problem. In order to fit international cruise ships in, they would have to cut out the mangrove system to make room for the big ships to turn. At the moment, dredging is only accommodating the depth of the ship, and only smaller ones are quite shallow in depth. Just passing on information. :)

5 January at 10:16
Gavin King
Many thanks Suzannah Dacre! Great info. All of those issues you mention will no doubt be addressed in the $350,000 feasibility study currently underway by Ports North, due for release in the next month or so. As with any major project of this size, all environmental and logistical issues will need to be addressed before it can proceed. Thanks again!

5 January at 10:21
Steve Grasso
Considering the huge labor debt you will inherit, this is a great commitment Gav. I can't wait for the Ports North study to be released so that we can start working through the issues

Steve Brech said...

You want to dredge for what reason?

Yeah maybe you'll be lucky and not cause fish kills, and yes you may be able to dump the spoil far enough away that it doesn't have negative consequences to either the reef or eco-systems and maybe just maybe the turbidity won't damage the food chains in and around the inlet and just perhaps the tons of silt that have the run-off, of years of carcinogenic materials used on Cane farms won't be disturbed and you will have an Inlet that is just as healthy and doesn't impact upon any other area of marine or land eco-systems with positive benefits for all Cairns and Barron River residents...and perhaps not!

Again, why doesn't Cairn Ports invest in roll=On-Roll-off (Ro-Ro)infrastructure and buy a crain that can unload cargo. From the vessels that already use our ports?
Steve Brech

Syd Walker said...

I trust recreational fishers will get the message from this just how little your interests and concerns feature in the LNP's thinking.