Green port plans for WA coast

Tuesday, 09 March, 2021

Green port plans for WA coast

Plans to build Australia’s first ‘green’ port near Exmouth on Western Australia’s north-west coast are underway, with Gascoyne Gateway progressing with the company’s next round of community reference groups.

The proposed Gascoyne Gateway marine facility — expected to set a new benchmark in marine environmental management — is a single-jetty deep-water port capable of servicing a range of vessels in the Exmouth Gulf, such as navy, cruise ships and private yachts. 

The green port would be the first in the country to incorporate environmental regeneration initiatives into its initial planning and operation.

No decisions have been made on the final design; however, an initial conceptual drawing will be used to gather feedback from the local community during the early stages.

Gascoyne Gateway Managing Director Michael Edwards OAM said the upcoming meetings with the community would help determine the best way to execute this vision.

“We are holding two group meetings in March to get feedback on specific aspects of the project,” he said. “The Design and Environment group will be focused on minimising environmental impact and maximising regenerative environmental opportunities in the marine and terrestrial environments.

“The Jobs and Community group will address another area we know is important to the Exmouth community by helping identify how the jetty could support economic diversification and minimise community impacts throughout construction and into the future.” 

The construction of the marine facility is expected to create 400 jobs, while 70 full-time local positions would be created once the port is in full operation.

Edwards said the facility would be designed to not only protect the marine environment from current risks, but also enhance it.

“Other ports have added green initiatives after they’ve begun operating, but Gascoyne Gateway will be designed to improve environmental outcomes from the outset,” he said. “This industry-leading commitment makes it the first green and regenerative port in Australia and possibly the world, leaving it better than we found it.” 

The green port is earmarked for a location 10 km south of the town of Exmouth, adjacent to an industrial area and well away from the Ningaloo Marine Park.

As a naval veteran, Edwards has more than 40 years’ worldwide experience in naval and commercial port management and believes the port would regulate the movement of large vessels in the area.

“There is currently little organisation or oversight of the movement of ships and maritime activities in the Exmouth Gulf,” he said. “It’s expected that much of the existing traffic within the gulf will use this facility, making it immediately viable and delivering a net environmental benefit as this traffic becomes better regulated.

“The project will also enable marine habitat that has already been damaged by ship’s anchors to be gradually restored by significantly reducing anchoring activity within the gulf.”

Gascoyne Gateway plans to carry out a survey to determine the extent of damage to the seabed grass fields due to unregulated anchoring. It will also co-fund an annual grass seeding program alongside conservation groups designed to enhance habitat and help address carbon-initiated climate change that currently threatens the marine environment and, in particular, the Ningaloo Reef. 

Edwards said the jetty and port would run on renewable energy, with scalability to contribute to the community’s power and water needs.

“We plan to use renewable energy to power a desalination plant to provide potable water for users of the port and potentially the local community,” he said.

Gascoyne Gateway has commissioned comprehensive environmental assessments guided by important state and federal Environmental Protection Agency processes.

Image caption: An artist’s impression of the proposed Gascoyne Gateway marine facility.

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