Aerial view of the Gladstone Harbour.Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer
Aerial view of the Gladstone Harbour.Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer Brenda Strong GLA110713PLAN

Port launches early talks for channel duplication project

DETERMINED to leave backlash from past channel widening works in the past, Gladstone Ports Corporation has started early discussions for a project more than five years away.

The company has taken a collaborative approach as it prepares to lodge an Environmental Impact Statement this year for the proposed duplication of Gatcombe and Golding Cutting Channels.

Strategy and development general manager Craig Walker said the port's ability for economic growth would be "significantly limited and hindered" without widening the two channels.

CQUniversity marine and coastal research cluster leader Emma Jackson is part of the Stakeholder Representative Group, which has three more meetings scheduled with the company.

Ms Jackson, who moved to Gladstone shortly after GPC's Western Basin Dredging project completed, said it was a good sign the company was openly speaking with stakeholders prior to lodging the EIS.

The $1.3 billion Gladstone Ports Corporation project, undertaken from 2011 - 13, was subject to international scrutiny about sediment dispersion and fish health.

Ms Jackson said the newly proposed work was quite different to the WBDP, because it involved moving sand-based sediment.

"I think (GPC) is in a good position to learn from what happened last time and to take this forward in a more proactive approach," she said.

Ms Jackson said the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership fish health indicator would assist planning.

"By the time this dredging starts, we will have a better idea of what normal fish health is and what can impact that," she said.

Mr Walker said the project would allow a safe two-way passage for vessels through part of the Gladstone Harbour and was important for future growth of what is already Queensland's largest port.

"It is prudent to undertake the preparation of the Channel Duplication Project EIS now to ensure a thorough planning and well considered strategic process," he said.

Based on current projections for trade volumes, the project would not need to begin within the next five years.

The draft EIS is expected to be completed by May this year when it will be made public for review and submission as part of the consultation period.

The duplication is part of the Port of Gladstone's 50 Year Strategic Plan and aligns with the Reef 2050 Plan and the State Government's Master Planning for Priority Ports.