Australia’s first regenerative deep-water port has entered the planning stages near Exmouth on Western Australia’s north west coast.
The project is run by Gascoyne Gateway, which is planning to do more than simply protect what’s left of the environment, but enhance it using environmental regeneration initiatives.
They include better marine management for larger vessels; reducing long haul trucks and road freight emissions; reducing shipping emissions; a solar farm and battery storage to power the jetty; and providing desalinated water using renewable energy.
The port’s 900-metre jetty will be able to house all kinds of vessels passing through the Exmouth Gulf, including navy, cruise ships, private yachts and small scale cargo vessels.
Gascoyne Gateway managing director Michael Edwards said the project was important on many levels.
“There is currently little organisation or oversight of the movement of ships and maritime activities in the Exmouth Gulf,” Edwards 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.”
On top of the project’s direct effects on the environment, Gascoyne Gateway will also co-fund an annual grass seeding program, adding to the project’s aim of habitat regeneration.
The planning process has involved two community reference groups to ensure the project is aligned with local opinions and preferences for the area.
“The design and environment group focussed on minimising environmental impact and maximising regenerative environmental opportunities in the marine and terrestrial environments,” Edwards said.
“The jobs and community group addressed 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.”
Construction is expected to create 400 jobs, while the operation will employ 70 full time positions.
The port should also contribute $34 million per year to the local Exmouth community.
Edwards said no one had seen anything like it before.
“Other ports have added green initiatives after they’ve begun operating, but Gascoyne Gateway will be designed to improve environmental outcomes from the outset,” Edwards 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.
“We believe Gascoyne Gateway will set the benchmark for this type of infrastructure world- wide.”