North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) is committed to a sustainable and responsible environmental approach that seeks to, where possible, prevent, and always to reduce and manage its impact on the environment.
As a port authority for some of Australia’s largest export ports, NQBP delivers an approach based on sustainable planning, leading environmental management in its dredging and other activities, and rigorous monitoring of its ports’ environments. NQBP has an Environmental Management System developed to comply with AS/ISO 14001:2004 to ensure continual improvement in environmental performance.
NQBP leases land or infrastructure to other organisations to carry out port-related activities and has a planning, coordinating, facilitation and development function in the port. Generally, NQBP only operates port facilities in the Port of Mackay. The operators of facilities in the port generally have control over potential impacts of their activities, and any environmentally relevant activities they undertake are licensed by either the Department of Environment and Resource Management or the local council.
In its coordination role, NQBP carries out monitoring of the whole port environment to complement any monitoring carried out by facility operators. NQBP manages the potential impact of new projects through appropriate management plans.
The main activities carried out by NQBP are dredging to maintain navigable depths for ships and construction of port facilities. The impacts of these activities are controlled through appropriate environmental management plans, extensive environmental monitoring and close consultation with stakeholders.
The major environmental issues facing NQBP are:
- achieving effective management of dredging
- achieving environmentally sustainable development on port land
- achieving environmentally sustainable use of the port by shipping, lessees and operators.
Programs and Initiatives
NQBP has a comprehensive program of environmental monitoring which is reviewed annually. It is developed on a port-by-port basis to ensure environmental issues in each port are being adequately monitored. The following monitoring is regularly carried out:
- long-term seagrass monitoring in the Port of Weipa
- survey of beaches for coal at Port of Hay Point
- sediment sampling to support dredging activities
- air and noise monitoring at Port of Hay Point
- water quality monitoring to support specific port projects
- baseline monitoring is carried out where appropriate.
The EcoPorts Program is a practical action plan to achieve NQBP’s long-term environmental goals and commitments.
The Program is updated and assessed annually by our dedicated Environment Group. NQBP addresses all significant environmental risks within all areas of operations and within each port through EcoPorts. Issues and actions are documented and monitored to ensure the short and long term sustainability of our ports.
Each year NQBP carries out environmental improvement projects. These vary year to year and include projects such as revegetation of port land, support of Clean Up Australia Day activities, local community environmental projects and developing new partnerships with customers and environmental groups.
Impact Assessment of Projects
All new projects on port land are assessed for potential environmental impacts as part of an internal approval process. The proponent is required to prepare an Environmental Management Plan which covers:
- legislative requirements
- water, air or noise impacts
- stormwater management
- waste management
- flora and fauna management
- incorporation of sustainability measures.
NQBP requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for major projects on port land.
NQBP’s environment policy outlines how it is committed to protection of the environment and to the sustainable management of its ports and activities.
Port of Abbot Point Terminals 0, 2, and 3 Capital Dredging Project
NQBP is the port authority for the Port of Abbot Point and the proponent for the proposed Terminal 0, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 (T0/T2/T3) capital dredging project, which comprises the capital dredging and offshore disposal of up to 3 million m3 of sediment to support development across the three coal terminals proposed for the port.
On 10 December 2013, the Federal Government announced the decision to approve the dredging project with a set of strict conditions. NQBP welcomes the approval conditions as critical for ensuring the proposed dredging program avoids impacts where practicable. Where not practicable, the program must seek to minimise, mitigate and/or offset impacts.
The approval and conditions acknowledge that NQBP and the proponents have undertaken a rigorous and robust impact assessment process, in accordance with the relevant legislative provisions which identifies deep water offshore disposal as providing the best social and environmental outcomes.
The proposed dredging and associated disposal is a ‘controlled action’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) (EPBC Reference Number 2011/6213; GBRMPA G34897.1). As a result, NQBP was required to undertake an assessment of potential environmental impacts relevant to Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) under the EPBC Act.
NQBP’s rigorous environmental assessment informed the preparation of its Public Environment Report.
In accordance with section 98 of the EPBC Act, NQBP released a Draft Public Environment Report (PER) for the project for public consultation from 4 January – 15 February 2013. A total of 103 submissions were received during this period.
A Public Environment Report Supplementary has been developed to respond to the issues identified. This Supplementary Report was lodged with the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPAC) on 13 May 2013 in accordance with Section 99 of the Act.