Proposed Gascoyne Gateway subject to highest level of assessment by the Environmental Protection Authority
The environmental impact of a proposed deepwater port and renewables hub in the Exmouth Gulf will be subject to the highest possible level of assessment by the State’s Environmental Protection Authority.
The Gascoyne Gateway marine facility is a single-jetty deepwater port capable of servicing vessels from the navy, cruise ships, and private yachts in the Exmouth Gulf.
The port would run on renewable energy and be the first in the country to incorporate environmental regeneration initiatives into its initial planning.
A public record released by the EPA last Monday stated the proposed clearing of up to 259ha of native vegetation and fauna habitat could have potential impacts to subterranean fauna and impacts to social surroundings.
“Several preliminary key environmental factors require assessment due to the high biological and social significance of the area,” it stated.
“Further information and detailed assessment is required to determine the extent of the proposal's direct and indirect impacts and how the environmental issues could be managed.”
The report stated consultation and engagement with Traditional Owners was also required.
Gascoyne Gateway managing director Michael Edwards said the organisation was committed to setting a new benchmark in marine environmental management.
“Some time ago we started a number of environmental studies that would support the EPA assessment process, including marine habitat surveys, shoreline movement assessments, coastal processes assessment and flora and fauna baseline surveys,” he said.
“We will avoid extracting water from the local aquifers by creating our own desalinated water, potentially producing drinkable water to support the local community and reducing existing impacts on subterranean fauna.”
Mr Edwards said the port would also establish proper management of vessel movement in the gulf and reduce marine traffic impact on the Exmouth Gulf.
“It’s expected that much of the existing traffic within the Gulf will use our facility, making it immediately viable and delivering a net environmental benefit as this traffic becomes better regulated,” he said
Protect Ningaloo released a statement on Facebook stating it was pleased the EPA had set the highest level of environmental assessment.
“This decision reflects the multiple threats that the port and shipping channel would pose to the fragile, highly diverse Exmouth Gulf-Ningaloo environment including whales, dugongs, dolphins, corals, seagrasses - the list goes on,” it stated
Gascoyne Gateway Limited will have to submit a technical report and peer review to the EPA which will be subject to a public comment process.
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