Port concerns deepen
PROPONENTS of a new port have seized on the Fremantle Port Authority’s (FPA) 2016-17 annual report, saying growth is restricted, and more dredging and new cranes could be needed.
“Why does FPA call for significant infrastructure upgrades to a port that has no capacity to provide space for industry expansion and again attempts to lock in all the associated problems with freight transport?” Western Harbours Alliance (WHA) spokeswoman Kim Dravnieks said.
The 2016-17 report said urban encroachment and nearby land uses in Fremantle would “restrict the ability of the port to develop its optimum capacity” and increases public safety risks.
The WHA argues a new port at the north end of Kwinana would have land for unrestricted operations that could develop new industries and about 30,000 jobs.
Ms Dravnieks said the report was the first time the FPA had said its harbour needed deepening for planned 12,500container New Panamax-class ships, which needed new larger cranes and tugs.
“How much this could cost could be $500 million, $1 billion or more, and it doesn’t even consider the road and rail upgrades required, and it is possible that environmental consultants are already looking at widening the harbour for turning larger ships,” Ms Dravnieks said.
WHA argues a new port could be future-proofed with new technologies such as electric container trucks in the precinct.
New port advocates say higher-value industries and specialist agriculture products could develop at the facility to resolve WA’s trade imbalance, which causes empty containers to be the largest export from Fremantle.
FPA chief executive Chris Leatt-Hayter said the report’s information did not mean additional deepening was now being proposed or imply the FPA would oppose more port facilities in the future.
Mr Leatt-Hayter said the 2010 deepening of the harbour and 27ha reclaimed at Rous Head had enabled containers to now be served efficiently.
A new port forum is on November 20 at 7pm, Victoria Hall, High Street, Fremantle.
Proponents of a new port say more dredging, larger cranes and tugs could be needed if Fremantle Port Authority is to battle restricted growth.