Port con­cerns deepen

Weekend Courier - - Street Watch - Jon Bas­sett

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.

Pic­ture: Jon Bas­sett

Proponents of a new port say more dredg­ing, larger cranes and tugs could be needed if Fre­man­tle Port Author­ity is to bat­tle re­stricted growth.

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