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Overview of Townsville Port Expansion

Discuss about the Environmental Law and social Impact.

The expansion of the Townsville port was first brought up by a Master planning process in the year 2007.  The stable increase in trade which was predicted for the future was one of the main driving forces behind the master plan recognizing the need to expand the port[1]. The project design has been subjected to social, economical and environmental scrutiny since the time it has been initiated. The design which had been provided in the environmental impact statement has also been subjected to review.  The design required work which was probably going to be extended towards the Great Barrier Reef marine park boundaries[2]. There were many submissions against the project pointing out the validity of its needs along with many environmental impacts. The environmental and social impacts of the project included effects on local ecosystem and marine habitat resilience along with the adverse effects of the Great Barrier Reef[3]. The effects of the project on tourism friendly Townsville and magnetic islands were also pointed out in the submissions. The adequacy in relation to the proposed environmental offsets was also challenged by the submissions. The report in relation to the project expansion justifies that the growing trade requires the expansion project for the betterment of economy. The report promises sustainable development by addressing the environment impacts of the projects. The tenants and the port are promising to take up the duty of limiting dust, light and noise which may have a harmful impact on the local communities. The expansion project would also bring in over 175 constriction and 180 operational jobs. The project is set to overcome the capacity restraint of the harbor which would lead to the development of trade and economy[4]. Various risk arise out of the project such as hazard risk, cumulative risk, health and safety risk and critical infrastructure protection. Currently the coordinator-general is preparing the evaluation report in relation to environmental impact statement[5].

In order to conserve the environment and heritage, assessments are undertaken with respect to Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBCAct)[6].  A person cannot go forward with an action which would have or would likely to have a serious impact in relation to the environment and other matters which are protected unless an approval is obtained from the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Energy (the Minister). Action in the Act is defined as any development, project, activity or undertaking. The proposed action has to be referred to the minister before any steps are taken towards it. Both state and commonwealth EIS has to be prepared by the proponents addressing their requirements separately. The expansion project has to comply with both state and commonwealth guidelines on environment while preparing the EIS. With respect to state compliance the initial step is to prepare a TOR which would be available for advisory agency and public advisors. The comments made by the public and agencies are considered by the Coordinator-General and copies of the comment are given to the proponent.  The availability of the prepared EIS must be made public by the proponent. The coordinator general considers the EIS and other submissions and if satisfied issues a preliminary approval only with imposed conditions. When there are no further conditions the development is approved with reasons for the statement[7]. The ESI should be made in accordance to its guidelines such as use of scientific and technical data, plan for mitigating identified risk, ensuring optimum level of investigation and defining technical terms in plain English. Various sections of EPBC Act such as section 12-18 have to be considered along with Section 20, 23 and 24.  Bilateral agreements between state and commonwealth operate to better handle to issues relating to the environment by addressing both state and national needs. The current bilateral agreement allows the minister of commonwealth to rely on EIA which is specified by the state of Queensland with respect to the EPBC Act.

Environmental and Social Impacts of the Project


The hydrodynamic impact assessment is done to assess the condition of the marine environment due to the impact of the proposed project. According to the Hydrodynamic impact statement of the proposed expansion the effects are not severe in magnitudes and are limited to changed velocity magnitude with respect to reclamation areas and proposed breakwaters. According to the assessment velocity magnitude only decreases only by 0.25 m/s which is permissible with respect to the advantages of the proposed expansion project. The impact statement also does not indicate any significant change in relation to tidal current velocities due to the expansion project.  A three dimensional numeric modeling was used to base evaluation of advection dispersion and hydrodynamic process. A three dimensional flexible mesh model TUFLOW was used which had the capability to handle both advection dispersion and hydrodynamic. For the purpose of representing stratification processes resulting out of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon a baroclinic model configuration was used. In order to assess the changes in wave climate a spectral wave model was used. The models have been tested and used by BMT WBM on various significant studies nlike Murray River Mouth, Gladstone Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project (coastal studies) and Pipavav Port.

In order to assess the water quality and impact on marine ecosystem segment of the AEIS the dredge plume modeling results were used. The section provides a full discussion in relation to the effect of dredging plumes on the quality of water. The winding stage and the Deeping stage of sea channels and platypus is predicted to have the most significant impact from dredging process. Margin of the Magnetic Island along with conditions in relation to sensitive receptors are influenced by the entertainment of sediments by propeller wash procedure and overflow of TSHD[8].  The plumes which would be caused due to the dredging process is likely to have an impact at the local level but is not predicted to impact a large area.  There is also negligible increase with respect to suspended sediment concentration at the site of the sensitive receptors.

The proponents have developed a Dredge Management plan in order to mange the environmental risk arising out to the dredge process. The proponents have divided the plan in different stages according to the stages of dredge. The proponents aim to capitalize dredging activities done by plants, placing dredged material into reclamation, dredge tailwater management at the site of reclamation, general operations before decommissioning and during dredging process[9].

Regulatory Requirements under the EPBC Act

Maritime structures like marine pile diving, breakwaters and other structures of the reclamation based on land and a different construction environmental plan is formed to address the same. operational degrading is also not covered by the plan  as it is controlled by POTLs.  The plan intends to protect environmental values resulting out of long term ill effects of dredging effects on water quality. The plan also intends to minimize the impact of the project on existing marine fauna and flora including their habitats due to material placement and capital dredging activities. The plan sets out guidelines to mage waste resulting out of the process. The plan also addresses the risk of accidents such as oil spills and vessel collision which could damage the surrounding environment. The proponents have also taken steps to reduce noise from the project which could result in nuisance. The proponents have introduced technical advisory committee and environmental supervisors to take care of the issue. Yes, the measures taken by the proponents would successfully be able to mitigate the adverse effects as the effects according to the assessment are not much.

The social impacts relevant to the project both beneficial and adverse have been discussed briefly in this Section. The response of the community who are affected due to the community engagement process including marine and port users along with indigenous communities has to be considered. Sufficient data needs to be included in order to help the affected state and local authorities to make informed decisions in relation to the effect of the project on business and cultural and social area of the project[10]. The primary and secondary impacts of other projects also need to be addressed at both regional and local level. Population shift and disruption of present lifestyle has to be considered. The social well being and health of the local communities have to be considered.  Population influx causing drugs, violence social and cultural disruption has to be addressed[11]. The projects must also include the need of young people, women, children, aged and disabled. The project also needs to address cultural property issues of indigenous people. The project must also consider the impact on recreational activities and marine transportation. The revenue which the project is likely to bring into the affected area has to be considered comparing it to the adverse effects. The housing and accommodation issues have to be addressed by the proponents and they must ensure that most of the operational and constructional workforce is hired from the local community in order to ensure economic development. Education and training provisions has to be included for women children and people with disability in order to minimize social adverse impact and enhance the social environment[12].

References

Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council and Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand 2000, The Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality, viewed 15 December 2010

 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 

Operational Policy – Material Change in intensity or scale for an environmental relevant activity ERA 2011, viewed 24 January 2012,

Policy for Vegetation Management Offsets, version 3, Department of Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane, viewed 7 November 2011,

Queensland Biodiversity Offset Policy (version 1), Department of Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane, viewed 7 November 2011,

Queensland Reconstruction Authority 2011, Temporary State Planning Policy: Planning for stronger, more resilient floodplains, Queensland Reconstruction Authority, Brisbane, viewed 23 January 2012

State Planning Policy 3/11: Coastal Protection, Department of Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane, viewed 2 February 2012,

State Planning Policy 5/10: Air, Noise and Hazardous Materials, Department of Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane, viewed 23 January 2012,

Townsville City Council 2010, Black Ross (Townsville) Water Quality Improvement Plan, Townsville City Council, Townsville, viewed 2 February 2012,

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My Assignment Help. (2018). Environmental Law And Social Impact Of Townsville Port Expansion. Retrieved from https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/environmental-law-and-social-impact.

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My Assignment Help (2018) Environmental Law And Social Impact Of Townsville Port Expansion [Online]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/environmental-law-and-social-impact
[Accessed 27 February 2024].

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