The Port of Townsville is the largest commercial Port in Northern Australia but, at just 92 metres, the shipping channel is one of the narrowest in the country. Currently, vessels up to 238 metres in length can safely access the Port. Ships are getting larger, so the Port needs to adapt so that it is able to service the needs of North Queensland's mining, defence, agriculture, construction, vehicle and tourism industries. 

The $1.6 billion Port Expansion Project (PEP) is a long-term development plan for the port. It includes capital dredging for channel widening, land reclamation to develop a new outer harbour, wharves, and associated infrastructure to be constructed by 2040. 

Stage one of the Port Expansion Project is the $232 million Channel Upgrade project that will deliver a wider shipping channel and a 62 hectare port reclamation area.

The shipping channel will be widened from its current width of 92 metres to 180 metres at the inshore (Port) end, then taper to 120 metres at the seaward end. The channel needs to be wider at the inshore end, as this is where wind and currents have the greatest impact on a vessel’s manoeuvrability. 

The length limit for vessels using the Port of Townsville before channel widening is 238 metres. The wider shipping channel will allow vessels of up to 300 metres in length to safely access the Port. 

The Townsville Port Channel Upgrade is a joint project of the Queensland and Australian Governments and Port of Townsville Limited.

The Channel Upgrade forms part of the Townsville City Deal signed in December 2016.

Environmental Assessment Update Process: EIS/AEIS Finalised

The Port Expansion Project has been assessed by both the Queensland and Australian Governments under separate state and Commonwealth environmental impact assessment processes. The potential environmental impacts of the project have been subject to detailed assessment and approval by the Queensland and Australian Governments in accordance with legislation. This provides certainty that the environmental impacts have been fully considered and will be controlled through conditions on development. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Port Expansion Project was assessed and approved to proceed with conditions by the Australian Government on 5 February 2018 for capital dredging, land reclamation, and infrastructure construction. 

The Project underwent a design refinement process in direct response to submissions received following a public consultation process and the changes that occurred in Government policy and legislation since the original EIS was completed (around the placement of capital dredge material).

Additional Information to the Environmental Impact Statement

An Additional Information to the Environmental Impact Statement (AEIS) dated October 2016 was prepared in response to submissions and the request to provide further clarification on matters raised during the public consultation period of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The AEIS does not seek to duplicate the EIS but rather to complement the existing assessment by providing additional clarification on specific matters raised during the public consultation period, including Project design refinements.


The AEIS provides:

  • A summary of submissions received during the public consultation period of the EIS
  • Response to the submissions
  • An overview of legislative changes since the release of the EIS and subsequent impacts on the project
  • An outline of project design refinements since release of the EIS due to project progression, legislative changes and submissions
  • Corrections to the publicly advertised EIS

The refined project:

  • Avoids sea disposal with all capital dredge material beneficially reused in the outer harbour reclamation footprint
  • Has no direct impact in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park General Use Zone due to channel widening and through only partially deepening the channel
  • Includes a changed dredging methodology that reduces the bulking of dredged material in order to bring all material to land and reduce the size of the reclamation area
  • Proposed dredge methodology will result in reduced water quality impacts during capital dredging
  • Has incorporated Berth 12 as it forms a critical component of the outer harbour swing basin (previously, the EIS had assumed that the approved Berth 12 project will be constructed ahead of the PEP, however the introduction of the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 has affected the Berth 12 approval leading to its inclusion in the revised design)

For further information about Channel Upgrade project

call Toll Free 1800 531 561

For general enquiries about the Port of Townsville

call (07) 4781 1500