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  • Renee Cluff

    Email Renee Cluff

    Pipeline network lays the foundation for the start of Trinity Inlet dredging

    Eight kilometres of pipes are being installed north of Cairns in preparation for the dumping of dredge spoil from Trinity Inlet.

    When complete, the pipeline will run from the Northern Sands quarry on the Captain Cook Highway in the Barron River Delta and through the cane fields between Holloways Beach and Yorkeys Knob, ending three kilometres offshore.

    Almost one million cubic metres of sediment will be pumped from the dredger into the pipeline and delivered to the Northern Sands Dredge Material Placement Area.

    Another pipeline currently under construction will send water that collects on top of the dredge spoil from Northern Sands to the nearby Barron River.

    Ports North Chairman Russell Beer said it's exciting to see the $127 million Cairns Shipping Development project move into the construction phase.

    “Seeing these works underway marks a turning point in the long journey Ports North has travelled to make the Cairns Shipping Development Project a reality,” he said.

    “We have ensured every environmental aspect of the Project has been rigorously assessed, and we now move forward with confidence on a Project that will widen and deepen the Cairns shipping channel.”

    Dredging works are expected to start early next month and be completed around mid-September, accomplishing a plan first mooted back in 2012.

    Four years ago the project appeared to be done for when the State Government withdrew funding committed by the preceding Newman administration, citing environmental and financial factors.

    Tom Hedley’s Northern Sands quarry came to the rescue as Ports North ditched the plan to dump the dredge spoil offshore in favour of the land-based option, a strategy which cleared the environmental approvals process.

    900 thousand cubic metres of the soft clay dredged from the inlet will go to the quarry site, while the remaining 100 thousand cubic metres will be used to build up industrial land at Portsmith.

    It's all aimed at widening and deepening the existing outer and inner shipping channels and Crystal swing basin, located directly off the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal.

    The expansion will allow for vessels up to 300 metres to enter and dock in Trinity Inlet, with a forecast demand of up to 150 cruise ships through the Port of Cairns by 2031.

    A new swing basin will also be established to enable the future expansion of the Navy base HMAS Cairns.