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Master planning for the priority Port of Townsville

Port of Townsville
Port of Townsville courtesy of PoTL

The Queensland Government is leading master planning for the priority Port of Townsville, in accordance with the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 (Ports Act) and the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050 Plan).

About the port

The priority Port of Townsville is a critical northern gateway for the state's trade and investment. It is the largest general cargo and container port in Northern Australia and Australia's leading exporter of copper, zinc, lead and sugar.

The port was established in 1864 to service the local community, pastoral areas, the sugar industry and regional goldfields. International trade through the port is now valued at around $9 billion annually with over 30 different commodities from high value minerals to products such as sugar and fertiliser exported through the port.

The port supports a wide range of industry sectors, including resources, energy and agriculture whilst providing an increasingly strategic role in Australia's defence capabilities. It also plays a vital role in tourism for the region.

Read more about the priority Port of Townsville.

Draft master plan

On 5 November 2018, the Queensland Government released the draft master plan for the priority Port of Townsville for public consultation. Public consultation on the draft master plan closed on Monday 17 December 2018.

The draft master plan for the priority Port of Townsville is a strategic document that has a long-term outlook for the sustainable development of the port through to 2050. Long-term master planning provides a strategic and coordinated approach to managing port-related development and considers issues including marine and land-based impacts, port and supply chain infrastructure optimisation.

The draft master plan looks beyond the port boundary to ensure port-related development is sustainably managed while protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

The draft master plan for the priority Port of Townsville consists of several parts which set out the background, state interests, vision, spatial extent, environmental management framework (EMF) and implementation of the master plan. The EMF ensures the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) is an intrinsic consideration in port development, management and governance.

The draft master plan aligns with key projects associated with the ongoing sustainable development of the port. These include the Townsville Port Expansion Project, Townsville City Deal and the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor.

Next steps in the master planning process

The Queensland Government will now consider submissions received during the consultation period when preparing the final master plan. It is anticipated the final master plan will be released in 2019.

Following this, a draft port overlay, the regulatory instrument that implements the master plan, will be prepared and released for public consultation in accordance with the Ports Act. The community will be able to have their say on the draft port overlay once it is released.

Proposed master planned area

The priority Port of Townsville master plan includes a proposed master planned area, which encompasses a total area of about 16,500 hectares.

The proposed master planned area includes land-based and marine areas considered important for the efficient development and operation of the port, and for the management of potential impacts on the OUV of the GBRWHA and other environmental values that may occur as a result of port development and operations.

The proposed master planned area includes strategic port land under the Transport Infrastructure Act 1994 and:

  • land within the Townsville State Development Area
  • land within the Townsville City Waterfront Priority Development Area
  • land within the Townsville City Council local government area
  • marine areas within ports limits but outside State and Commonwealth marine parks.

Where possible, the boundary of the master planned area has been established to avoid areas that contain significant environmental values, such as intertidal areas.

Townsville master planned area boundary

Precincts have been identified within the proposed master planned area to outline the long-term intent for specific areas. The precinct approach supports cumulative impact management within the master planned area by identifying areas with environmental values where development should be limited, as well as separate areas that may be suitable for infrastructure and port-related development.

Townsville master planned area precinct

How the draft master plan was developed

The draft master plan was prepared in accordance with the Ports Act and Guideline: master planning for priority ports. The preparation of the draft master plan has followed the principles for priority port master planning:

  • evidence-based planning
  • transparency and stakeholder engagement
  • ecologically sustainable development
  • intrinsic consideration of the OUV of the GBRWHA.

An independent environmental advisory panel reviewed the draft master plan, advising it adequately considers the principles of ecologically sustainable development and the Reef 2050 Plan.

The preparation of the draft master plan also considered the Reef 2050 plan and the Reef 2050 policy guideline for decision makers.

The Queensland Government prepared the draft master plan, preliminary draft port overlay and evidence base documentation in consultation with Port of Townsville Ltd, Townsville City Council, state and federal agencies and other key stakeholders. During the public consultation period, a number of information sessions were held in Townsville and on Magnetic Island.

Supporting documentation

Supporting documentation was released to inform public consultation on the draft master plan. This includes evidence base documentation used to inform the preparation of the master plan and a preliminary draft port overlay.

Evidence base documentation

Three reports were commissioned from independent technical consultants to support the preparation of the draft master plan. These reports form a set of evidence base documents which represent a point-in-time analysis of matters important for master planning at the priority Port of Townsville.

The Queensland Government made the evidence base documentation available during public consultation on the draft master plan to support transparent decision-making. The evidence base included:

  • Evidence base report
    This report identifies and analyses social, economic and environmental factors which informed the master planning process and the establishment of the proposed master planned area.
  • Infrastructure and supply chain analysis
    This report identifies current and future infrastructure requirements and includes an annexure which analyses potential infrastructure interface issues out to the year 2050.
  • Risk assessment
    This report identifies environmental values (including the OUV of the GBRWHA) within and surrounding the proposed master planned area, analyses impacts on environmental values and develops measures to manage impacts within the existing regulatory framework.

Preliminary draft port overlay

The Ports Act provides for a port overlay to implement the master plan. A preliminary draft port overlay was released during public consultation to help stakeholders understand what any potential regulatory implications stemming from the draft master plan may mean for them.

Under the Ports Act, the port overlay is the regulatory instrument that implements the master plan for the master planned area.

The port overlay will include:

  • priority management measures
  • development assessment requirements
  • plan making provisions.

A preliminary draft port overlay was prepared to inform how the draft master plan is intended to be implemented for the master planned area. It is important to note that a draft port overlay will be issued for public comment through a separate public consultation stage, following the release of the final master plan.

Copies of the draft master plan

The draft master plan for the priority Port of Townsville is available to download. If you require a hard copy of the draft master plan, please email or call 13 23 80 to arrange a viewing at Department of Transport and Main Roads offices. 

Fact sheets

The following fact sheet is available to assist the community in understanding the draft master plan and support the public consultation process.

Further information


Document register for the priority Port of Townsville

A number of documents were released during the public consultation on the draft master plan for the priority Port of Townsville and are available below.

In this section:

Last updated
04 April 2019